Sunday, April 1, 2012


cc: plemke <>, ewwo <>, "r.r.dickson" <>, "Simon.J.Brown" <>, mccave <>, haugan <>, studhope <>, "B.Turrell" <>, rwood <>, "cvy.NERC.NERC" <>, "nrc.NERC.NERC" <>, "nth.NERC.NERC" <>, "ppn.NERC.NERC" <>, "j.m.slingo" <>, "p.j.valdes" <>, Lowe J <>, C Gommenginger <>, "Jochem.Marotzke.SOC.NERC" <>, Jochem Marotzke <>, Meric Srokosz <>, Peter Challenor <>, "a.j.watson" <>, "k.briffa" <>, "m.hulme" <>, lkeigwin <>
date: Fri, 7 Dec 2001 17:34:20 -0000
from: Lowe J <>
subject: RE: Rapid draft Science and Implementation Plans
to: 'Philip Newton' <>, "simon.tett" <>

Dear All

I have been away in Sweden for time, and have come back to an avalanche of
emails on the RCC Science and Implementation plans. I am a bit non-plussed
by the degree of apparent misunderstanding between us, and I think it won't
be resolved very much by adding to the paper mountain. I suggest we try to
identify the key issues in the correspondence and broker some frank talking
at the meeting on 18 December. Like Philip, and several others, I actually
like the Science Plan as it is written, IF it means what I think it means.
For me the key issues that I seek clarification on (at the meeting) are:

1) What is meant by focussing the programme on the THC ? Like several
others on the committee, I had taken that to mean that we include assessment
of the impacts of THC variations on climate. I actually support the idea
that the programme should be focused on the THC, but we must allow some
assessment of what makes the THC tick, and what impacts changes in THC
strength have on regional climate. I don't see how we can satisfy these
elements by earmarking the bulk of the finance to a short-term measurement
programme only. That aspect is important indeed - but it should not be done
in isolation from other very important scientific work.

2) The make-up of the Steering Committee presumably reflects the mix of
science communities that are deemed important to the success of the
programme. If the programme is not to embrace studies of terrestrial
palaeo-records and the various types of studies mentioned in despatches from
Keith, Paul, Sandy etc., then some of us on the committee may feel
redundant. I think we might need some clarification of the mix of
importance attached to the different elements of the programme (measurement,
modelling, ocean palaeo-records, terrestrial palaeo-records, climate changes
over different timescales, etc.). Hopefully this will be ironed out on 18

3) We should not lose sight of the fact that other factors may have
played an important role in driving climate changes in the North Atlantic
region in recent times (Holocene, for example). Bjorck et al. have a paper
coming out in next issue of Geology which argues (on very strong grounds)
that the early Preboreal cold oscillation that affected the whole of the
northern hemisphere was not initiated by ocean changes at all, but by
variations in solar activity. Bond et al. also have a paper coming out in
next issue of Science (out on Science Express just now) which also argues
that the 1500-year cycles that appear in Holocene palaeo-records are also a
response to solar forcing, and not to ocean changes. Now, I am not
suggesting at all that this diminishes the importance of THC - but we have
to be able to establish the importance of the role of THC variations against
other things. I don't see how that can be done without making very precise
comparisons between oceanic, terrestrial and (perhaps) ice-core records.
The papers by Bjorck et al and Bond et al are examples of the
multi-disciplinary studies now required to attain the wider perspective. So
I am arguing for placing the RCC within a wider context, although the crux
of the programme should be the mode of operation of the THC.

Meric: I will try to get the details of the publications mentioned above
to you on Monday - if you want them. I am running out of time just now -
having just got back to the department, I am trying to catch up with a lot
of things.

I hope we can resolve the various issues and viewpoints expressed in the
email correspondence. In the end we have to present a programme that knits
together the various communities represented by SC members, around the
common theme - otherwise I do not see the point of the programme any more.
The excitement lies in that objective, as much as in understanding better
what is essentially one element of a complex global climate system,
important though that element might be.

John Lowe

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