date: Thu, 29 Mar 2001 08:47:29 +0100
from: "Eric W Wolff" <ewwoatXYZxyzail.nerc-bas.ac.uk>
subject: Re: PRESCIENT: Something to consider
to: <njs5atXYZxyz.ac.uk>, <sandy.tudhopeatXYZxyzac.uk>, <rbradleyatXYZxyz.umass.edu>, <r.battarbeeatXYZxyzg.ucl.ac.uk>, <wigleyatXYZxyzker.ucar.edu>, <sfbtettatXYZxyzo.gov.uk>, <p.j.valdesatXYZxyzding.ac.uk>, <J.LoweatXYZxyznc.ac.uk>, <t.atkinsonatXYZxyz.ac.uk>, <k.briffaatXYZxyz.ac.uk>, <t.atkinsonatXYZxyzateway.net>
Dear Tim and other PRESCIENT people,
Thanks you for taking the initiative on this. Your comments on NERC's modus operandi on this programme were very restrained! Between ourselves, I think we should be very angry at the appalling rudeness NERC have shown in not officially informing us even after their decisions have become very public. However, I agree that it is not fruitful to pursue that.
Just to ensure we have pooled our knowledge of what NERC intends, the official report of the STB meeting is at item 3 of:
However, this only mentions that PRESCIENT is reinstated, whereas people at the STB meeting have confirmed that it was agreed (on a recommendation from NERC officials) that PRESCIENT be combined with ACC. My informant used the phrase "incorporated into ACC" but I think was describing the tone of what was suggested rather than the official wording. I understand that Phil Newton, as head of the marine sciences team (and therefore responsible for ACC) appeared unhappy at what he saw as a very late change to plans he already had in place.
Now the problem is to get PRESCIENT aims into the combined programme. The danger is that only PRESCIENT themes that support studies of ACC and THC will get included. While this would be an admirable improvement to ACC (which many of those involved felt had been hijacked by modern oceanography as Tim implies), it would leave the key aims of PRESCIENT untouched (essentially touching only 1 of our 4 themes).
Tim's letter is excellent. Getting an adequate balance on the combined SC is essential. Assuming there will only be one Science Coordinator, finding a person with a suitably broad outlook will also be critical. I guess we really also need to know if NERC intends that all 4 themes of PRESCIENT be pursued within the combined programme or not. If yes, then the title ACC-THC will simply not do for the combined programme However, I do not know how to explore this (which i suspect NERC have not even considered) without provoking the wrong answer.
So, in conclusion, I like Tim's letter, and support that he coordinates it. The only addition I would suggest is a sentence with an overt request that either there be two Science Coordinators, or that the spec for the ACC Coordinator be thoroughly reconsidered and readvertised.
British Antarctic Survey
Cambridge CB3 0ET
Phone: +44 1223 221491
Fax: +44 1223 221279 (note new number)
Alternate fax: +44 1223 362616
>>> "Tim C. Atkinson" <t.atkinsonatXYZxyz.ac.uk> 28/03/01 21:33:53 >>>
Dear PRESCIENT members,
Most of us will have heard by now that NERC will "unfreeze" PRESCIENT funds
but is likely to amalgamate our programme with a new one in oceanography,
"Abrupt Climatic Change and the thermohaline circulation" (ACC-THC). This
was hinted at by David Brown in his e-mail (via Chris Franklin) of 15
February. I got this news two weeks ago from a member of one of NERC's
higher boards, who indicated verbally that PRESCIENT members should "watch
out". I don't think any of us has been informed by anyone at NERC, for
which they have their reasons, no doubt.
I think that this is very good news, but only because the alternative was
complete extinction for PRESCIENT. The danger now is that PRESCIENT
objectives may be overshadowed by those of the ACC-THC. There is a very
large disparity in funding between the two programmes - �17M to �3.5M. The
best way to make sure PRESCIENT survives is for PRESCIENT folk and
PRESCIENT's scientific objectives to be adequately represented in the
Steering structure of the new programme. If we wish to have any influence
on this, we should make our voice(s) heard NOW.
As a first step I have written the attached letter, following discussions
among Battarbee, Valdez, Briffa and myself. Please read it and circulate
your reactions. My personal preference would be for the non-NERC members
collectively to send a suitably revised version to David Brown , and I hope
we may have a consensus for that.
Use Reply-All, please, to keep the discussion open. At this stage,
circulation is to non-NERC members only. If there is a consensus to send
some sort of letter, I would be willing to edit it in the light of
comments, unless someone else feels strongly that they should do this task.
Let's hear from you. Silence is deadening!