cc: hzimmerm <hzimmermatXYZxyz.gov>
date: Sun, 3 Aug 1997 15:30:45 +0100
from: oldfieldatXYZxyzeigbp.unibe.ch (Frank Oldfield)
subject: Open Science Meeting - additional flier
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At the recent meeting in London with the co-sponsors of the Meeting in UCL and RHUL, we agreed that it was essential to seek additional external sponsors and key 'policy-linked' participants as quickly as possible. We also agreed that in order to do this, we needed a quite diferent kind of flier designed specifically for the purpose. I have tried to draft the possible outline of such a flier as a matter of great urgency. I am hoping it may be possible for Cindy to convert it into reality very quickly indeed - by mid-August at the latest. I therefore need your critical comments on the attached by return in e-mail or fax. I find it a very difficult job since I sense a need both to present something brief and simple for some target groups, yet to give enough detail to convince others that we are not simply puffing out hot air. I badly need reactions from all who are reached by this. I have circulated a formatted e-mail version less widely by FAX - please let me know if you would like to see this. The leaflet, as presently designed, would be 4 pages, with interspersed colour graphics if and where possible. I would not think to produce more than, say 200. It could also go on the web. REACTIONS PLEASE.
With all good wishes and thanks in advance,
The First IGBP PAGES Open Science Meeting
Royal Holloway University of London
April 19 - 23, 1998
'Understanding the past for a better view of the future'
The Past Global Changes (PAGES) project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) works towards a better understanding the earth's past environment and its natural variability, above all as it affects our ability to predict and respond to future climate change. It therefore focuses on those aspect of past global change that are of greatest relevance to future policy issues.
The first Open Science Meeting of PAGES will be a major international landmark in the development of an area of science that makes crucial contributions to future planning and management for human welfare in a changing environment.
The Meeting will take the form of a carefully planned sequence of invited overview papers by some thirty experts drawn from all over the world, interspersed with poster sessions illustrating the best scientific research in the field. The final afternoon will include a Panel Discussion addressing future policy issues on a global scale in the light of the presentations made at the Meeting and the needs of present day decision makers.
Past Global Changes and their Significance
for the Future
The majority view among informed scientists is that human activities, by increasing the concentration of Greenhouse Gases in the atmosphere, will have a discernable influence on global climate in the next century. The magnitude and nature of this impact is still very hard to estimate, but two things are quite certain:-
� Whatever the impact, it will be superimposed on and interact with natural variability as recorded in the record from the past
� The alternative to a future climate modified by human activity is not a stable one - natural climate variation has occurred and will continue to occur on all timescales and it affects people and their livelihood in ways that are still hard to predict and plan for.
Both points reinforce the need to document and understand the course of past climate variation, its causes, regional expression and consequences.
Among the needs of policy makers concerned with future global changes and their impacts on human society are the following:-
� a range of possible future scenarios that are consistent with both empirical evidence and theory, can be articulated at global, regional, and preferably national and local level, and can form a framework for policy making
� an increasingly realistic assessment of the balance of probabilities within the range of scenarios presented
� some indication of the potential rates of change under realistic forcing and feedback conditions
� a robust framework within which to assess the possible future resource implications both of predictable trends and of changes in the magnitude and frequency of extreme events such as severe droughts or floods
The notes that follow give a brief outline of some of the key ways in which PAGES Science helps to meet these needs.
The highly focused research agenda of PAGES Science provides essential evidence underpinning the information and advice needed of policy makers by:-
� reconstructing the history of forcing mechanisms and their effects. Links between forcing mechanism such as solar variation and volcanic activity and the response they generate in the earth's climate must be established through studies of past events, as well as modelled and explained in theoretical terms. These forcing processes will persist through and interact with any greenhouse gas effects. We need to know much more about how they have affected past climate before we can assess their future significance.
� documenting the internal dynamics and feedback effects that modulate climate changes from seasons to centuries.. These too will interact with and modify any human-induced changes that may occur and they will happen even in their absence. They often involve complex leads and lags that can only be explored in the evidence from sources such as tree rings, corals, ice cores and sediments that allow us to reach beyond the short time span of instrumental records. They affect the way in which we interpret present day trends and they will strongly affect the course of future changes. To predict their future impacts , we need to greatly improve our knowledge of their pattern and amplitude in the past.
� providing data for developing, testing and validating climate models. Model simulations of the earth's climate system often highlight particular areas and processes of key importance for improving their validity and predictive power. This in turn requires that evidence from the past is refined in order to test the models against reconstructed past conditions. Models form one of the major links between empirical science and policy. To be fully effective in simulating future climates, they need testing under different boundary conditions and this can only be done with reference to our knowledge of the past. Unless models can achieve an adequate level of realism in their simulations of the past, their value in future prediction remains in serious doubt. Working alongside modellers is one of the key roles of PAGES. Many past climate changes are global in their effect and can be traced as simultaneous responses in both hemispheres and from the equator to the poles; but the way these changes are expressed varies greatly from place to place. The challenge for PAGES is to understand the global mechanisms and document the regional effects. Both are vital for model development and validation, hence for reducing uncertainties in future prediction.
� refining our knowledge of the past role of greenhouse gases during rapid warming episodes.. The parallel trends in past global temperature, atmospheric carbon dioxide and methane concentrations, as revealed in ice core records, provide one of the most dramatic arguments in favour of future greenhouse gas warming, but the precise phasing of and the processes reponsible for the parallel changes in temperature and gas concentractions need to be more fully understood before the future implications can be confidently established. Only the historical record contains the evidence needed to resolve these crucial issues.
� estimating the probability of major instabilities in the earth system under warm climate conditions. It is now clear that the earth's coupled ocean-atmosphere system has been highly unstable in the recent geological past, with massive swings of ocean circulation and associated dramatic changes in climate taking place over the space of a few decades at most. Even though such dramatic 'switches' are more typical of cool, glacial times, there is growing evidence that they cannot be excluded from the range of future possibilities in a warming world. Many lines of evidence from sources as diverse as tree rings and sediments show that even during the warm period since the last glaciation - the period we live in now - climate varied over a much greater range than instrumental records would lead us to believe. The recorded impact of these past, natural variations on, for example, lake levels, river regimes and the incidence of extreme events like droughts and floods, lies beyond the range that human planning envisages. Such impacts would also lead to changes in the resource base of human populations well beyond the scope of adaptation within many social and economic systems. There is also growing evidence for sudden, major changes in climate during the warm period before the last glaciation, the Eemian Interglacial. All these warm climate fluctuations need much fuller investigation, since they may hold part of the key to estimating the likelihood of similarly dramatic changes in the near future, changes that would have human consequences well beyond the range of recent experience.
� documenting the impact of past environmental changes on human resources and activities. The record of the past contained in historical documents, sediments, peats and the like is rich in illustrations of the ways in which climate change and human activity have been closely interwoven. It is not a simple story, for the impact of climate variation through extreme events for example, is often in part a function of the pattern of human resource use at the time. Human activities create the canvas upon which climate variation expresses its consequences for people, their welfare and their very survival. One of the responsibilities of PAGES is to improve our understanding of these interactions so that future resource management and environmental policy can learn from the lessons of the past.
The goals of the PAGES Open Science Meeting are to present the 'state-of -the-art' in these vital research areas, to identify the most urgent future challenges for all those involved in PAGES activities and to optimize interaction between PAGES Science and the formulation of future policy, especially in the areas of environmental planning and resource management.
Academic co-sponsors of the Meeting are The Environmental Change Research Centre, University College London and the Centre for Quaternary Research, Royal Holloway University of London.
Further information and updates on plans for the Meeting are available from the IGBP PAGES International Project Office,B�renplatz 2, CH 3011, Bern, Switzerland.
e-mail - pagesatXYZxyzclu.unibe.ch
PHONE:- + 41 31 312 3133; FAX:- + 41 31 312 3168
CH-3011 Bern, Switzerland
Phone: +41 31 312 3133; Fax: +41 31 312 3168