Learning from the authors of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report and its findings to help guide future strategies for climate change observations and research was the key objective of a workshop organised jointly by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) in Sydney, Australia, 4-6 October 2007.
The strong altitudinal gradients in mountain regions provide unique and sometimes the best opportunities to detect and analyse global change processes and phenomena. Meteorological, hydrological, cryospheric and ecological conditions change strongly over relatively short distances; thus biodiversity tends to be high, and characteristic sequences of ecosystems and cryospheric systems are found along mountain slopes. The boundaries between these systems experience shifts due to environmental change and thus may be used as indicators of such changes. The higher parts of many mountain ranges are not affected by direct human activities. These areas include many national parks and other protected environments. They may serve as locations where the environmental impacts of climate change alone, including changes in atmospheric chemistry, can be studied directly. Mountain regions are distributed all over the globe, from the Equator almost to the poles and from oceanic to highly continental climates. This global distribution allows us to perform comparative regional studies and to analyse the regional differentiation of environmental change processes as characterised above. Therefore, within the IGBP an Initiative for Collaborative Research on Global Change and Mountain Regions was developed, which strives to achieve an integrated approach for observing, modelling and investigating global change phenomena and processes in mountain regions, including their impacts on ecosystems and socio-economic systems.
The Global Land Project (GLP) Science Plan and Implementation Strategy represents the joint research agenda of IGBP and IHDP to improve the understanding of land system dynamics in the context of Earth System functioning. This plan is therefore a first critical step in addressing the interaction between people and their environments. It is part of the broader efforts to understand how these interactions have affected, and may yet affect, the sustainability of the terrestrial biosphere, and the two-way interactions and feedbacks between different land systems within the Earth System. GLP will play a clear role in improving the understanding of regional and global-scale land systems, as well as promoting strong scientific synergy across the global change programmes. This Science Plan and Implementation Strategy develops a new integrated paradigm focused on two main conceptual aspects of the coupled system: firstly, it deals with the interface between people, biota, and natural resources of terrestrial systems, and secondly, it combines detailed regional studies with a global, comparative perspective. GLP takes as its points of departure ecosystem services and human decision making for the terrestrial environment. These topics are at the interface of the societal and the environmental domains, and serve as conceptual lenses for the research plan.
The iLEAPS Science Plan and Implementation Strategy defines the scientific objectives and key research issues of the land-atmosphere project of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. It also outlines a strategy for addressing the key research questions. The scope of iLEAPS research spans from molecular level processes - such as synthesis of volatile organic compounds in vegetation - to Earth System science issues, climate and global change. iLEAPS research emphasises the importance of connections, feedbacks and teleconnections between the numerous processes in the land-atmosphere interface. Due to the complexity and wide range of scientific issues, iLEAPS stresses the need for increased integrative approaches and collaboration, involving scientists from various disciplines, experimentalists and modellers, and international research projects and programmes.
Coastal zones play a key role in Earth System functioning, by contributing significantly to the life support systems of most societies. Human activities modifying riverine hydrology and riverine material fluxes to the coastal zone, have increased in both scale and rate of change in the last 200 years. The underlying processes that drive changes to coastal systems occur at a multiplicity of temporal and spatial scales. These changes alter the availability of ecosystem goods and services. However, disciplinary fragmentation impedes our ability to understand the regional and global changes that affect coastal systems, and thus limits our ability to guide management and decision making. Progress has been made in understanding the changes in Earth System processes that affect the coastal zone, and the role of coastal systems in global change. This includes identifying proxies that describe the state of coastal systems under existing conditions and change scenarios. Typologies have been developed to assist in the interpolation of results into areas where primary information is lacking. This has enabled a first-order up-scaling to a global synthesis.
This Science Plan and Implementation Strategy sets out the research agenda for the second phase of IGBP. The document describes the IGBP strategy for producing high quality, unbiased, credible, fundamental scientific research in the area of global change: a strategy centered on ten projects, to be carried out by the several thousand scientists worldwide who are part of the IGBP network. Further, the document describes how the organization will communicate the results of this research to different audiences, in order to realize its vision: "to provide scientific knowledge to improve the sustainability of the living Earth".
The IGAC Science Plan and Implementation Strategy lays out the scientific objectives and key research issues of the atmospheric chemistry project of the International Geosphere Biosphere Programme (IGBP) as both IGAC and IGBP enter their second phase. It also lays out a framework for addressing these objectives and issues, recognizing the need for collaboration with partner programmes and projects. The scientific focus of this document emerged from the first decade of IGAC research, much of which was conducted in the context of focused, intensive measurement campaigns. The scope of IGAC in its next phase includes both regional characterisation and the extension into issues that cross more expansive boundaries in space, time and discipline. While local and regional-scale atmospheric chemical composition will be a primary focus, it is now clear that issues such as intercontinental transport and transformation of chemically active species and the interactions between atmospheric chemistry and climate must also be addressed in order to better understand atmospheric chemical composition and to provide guidance to the public and policy-making community.
This report outlines a strategy for the new AOGCM/ESM modeling components in terms of aerosols/atmospheric chemistry and carbon cycle/dynamic vegetation components that are under development and implementation in ESMs that involves a proposed experimental design that integrates impacts and scenarios (represented in IPCC WG2 and WG3, respectively) and physical climate science (WG1). We summarize with a suite of recommendations for the joint WGCM, AIMES and IPCC communities.
SOLAS (Surface Ocean - Lower Atmosphere Study) is a new international research initiative that has as its goal: To achieve quantitative understanding of the key biogeochemical-physical interactions and feedbacks between the ocean and the atmosphere, and of how this coupled system affects and is affected by climate and environmental change. Achievement of this goal is important in order to understand and quantify the role that ocean-atmosphere interactions play in the regulation of climate and global change. The domain of SOLAS is focussed on processes at the air-sea interface and includes a natural emphasis on the atmospheric and upper-ocean boundary layers, while recognising that some of the processes to be studied will, of necessity, be linked to significantly greater height and depth scales. SOLAS research will cover all ocean areas including coastal seas and ice covered areas. A fundamental characteristic of SOLAS is that the research is not only interdisciplinary (involving biogeochemistry, physics, mathematical modelling, etc.), but also involves closely coupled studies requiring marine and atmospheric scientists to work together. Such research will require a shift in attitude within the academic and funding communities, both of which are generally organised on a medium-by-medium basis in most countries.
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