date: Thu, 14 Aug 2008 13:56:08 +0100
from: H J Fowler <H.J.FowleratXYZxyzcastle.ac.uk>
subject: RE: FYI: Top climate-impacts programme shut
to: Phil Jones <p.jonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk>, C G Kilsby <C.G.KilsbyatXYZxyzcastle.ac.uk>
Yeah. I noticed this. That is a real shame as Mickey is such a character. I thought that
things might get stirred up a bit when Linda stepped down (I think ISSE have all but been
disbanded with their move over to Mesa and lack of director). They really don't have any
funding left over at NCAR at the moment - they couldn't even afford to bring Claudia
Tebaldi back when she left.
Rob's (Wilby) over there at the moment - think he is back next week - but things were not
good when I was there over Xmas. No money and too much politics.
From: Phil Jones [mailto:firstname.lastname@example.org]
Sent: 14 August 2008 13:51
To: C G Kilsby; H J Fowler
Subject: Fwd: FYI: Top climate-impacts programme shut
FYI. This is likely to by in the NYT as well.
Seems as though the new broom Eric Baron is stirring things up there.
All doesn't seem happy in the state of NCAR.
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Date: Wed, 13 Aug 2008 14:44:04 -0500
From: Michael Schlesinger <schlesinatXYZxyzos.uiuc.edu>
Subject: FYI: Top climate-impacts programme shut
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Published online 12 August 2008 | Nature | doi:10.1038/454808a
Top climate-impacts programme shut
National Center for Atmospheric Research axes developing-world initiative.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research.
The lay-off last week of a senior political scientist involved in helping poor countries
prepare for climate change has exposed a stark division in opinions on the core purpose
of a key US climate-research institution.
The National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder, Colorado, says its hand
was forced by several years of largely stagnant budgets. These have resulted in the loss
of 12% of its core workforce during the past five years - ironically, during a period in
which climate change moved to centre stage in Washington DC.
But the lay-off of Mickey Glantz, a high-profile researcher who has chalked up some 34
years at the institution, has raised questions about whether NCAR is turning its back on
the social sciences at a time when international efforts are focusing on mitigation and
adaptation. Certainly Glantz believes this is the case, saying budgets are just an
excuse and that the leadership is defensively "circling the wagons". His dismissal is
tied to NCAR's announcement last week that it is shutting its Center for Capacity
Building, the highly respected outreach programme that Glantz has run since 2005.
But others associated with the programme say they believe the NCAR leadership still
backs them despite its budgetary problems. "I don't think this has anything to do with
shutting down social science at NCAR," says Linda Mearns, who recently stepped down as
director of the Institute for the Study of Society and Environment there. Mearns says
social scientists within the institute will continue to work with physical scientists at
NCAR on integrated research projects. "And that's the proper role for an institute in
social science at NCAR."
Mickey Glantz's social science department has been axed.
IISD/Earth Negotiations Bulletin
On the other side, some scientists are questioning whether the institution has done
enough to maintain, let alone build, its expertise in the physical sciences,
particularly in climate modelling. These questions have been driven home by the
departure of key scientists, including William Collins, who helped oversee NCAR's
climate modelling programme. "I can tell you in the science divisions here, it's the
worst mood people have seen in a long time, and one reflection is people walking away,"
says Caspar Ammann, a palaeoclimatologist at the institution.
NCAR's new director, Eric Barron, who took over in July, says the institution is in an
"interesting position", caught between a dismal budgetary outlook and ongoing concerns
about where NCAR should direct its limited resources. "A number of people are saying
that our climate modelling programme has taken too big of a hit. People are saying very
loudly that NCAR is not setting its priorities the way it should," he says. "The simple
fact of the matter is that years of tight budgets are coming home to roost."
Barron says he supports the social science mission but was able to preserve several
positions throughout the institution "that are of critical importance" by eliminating a
single programme that he says cost upwards of $730,000 annually.
NCAR's base budget - almost $88.5 million in the fiscal year 2008 - comes from the US
National Science Foundation, although the institution receives significant funding from
other federal agencies as well. In the fiscal year 2007, its overall budget came to
$149.3 million. Although current appropriations bills in Congress would increase NCAR's
budget, few expect this legislation to pass in an election year. Congress is likely to
wind up passing a "continuing resolution" later this autumn that would effectively
freeze current spending levels until at least early next year.
Roger Pielke Jr, a climate policy expert at the Center for Science and Technology Policy
Research at the University of Colorado at Boulder, says it's not clear why Glantz was
singled out or, more broadly, how NCAR is addressing its fiscal situation. "There's
really no transparency in how these decisions are made," he says.
Glantz, who has been guaranteed one year's salary, says he plans to stay on for a while,
although such courtesies will not be extended to his staff, including an administrative
position and two researchers.
Prof. Phil Jones
Climatic Research Unit Telephone +44 (0) 1603 592090
School of Environmental Sciences Fax +44 (0) 1603 507784
University of East Anglia
Norwich Email p.jonesatXYZxyz.ac.uk
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