In March 2014, a technical support unit (TSU) of ten, headquartered at Global Ecology, had successfully completed a herculean management effort for the 2000-page assessment Climate Change 2014: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability, including two summaries. They were issued by the United Nations (UN) Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group II co-chaired by Chris Field, Global Ecology director, with science co-directors Katie Mach and Mike Mastrandrea managing the input of over 190 governments and nearly 2,000 experts from around the world.

The IPCC, established in 1988, assesses information about climate change and its impacts. In September 2008, Field was appointed co-chair of Working Group II. The process, managed by the TSU, was prescribed by the IPCC to ensure that the report is comprehensive; to incorporate government and scientists’ reviews; to be policy relevant and neutral; and to conduct a line-by-line approval of the 32-page policymaker summary. Image courtesy IPCC

 

Government representatives began by itemizing the topics to address, which were used to produce the outline in July 2009. The report expanded from the fourth assessment with 10 new chapters, including a broader ocean assessment and material on poverty, human security, livelihood, and urban and rural areas.

From January to June 2010, governments and organizations nominated 1,200 experts. Some 242 lead authors and 66 review editors were elected five months later. In all 1,774 experts were enlisted and the outline was refined.

Experts reviewed thousands of sources; over 12, 000 references were cited.  The report went through two extensive rounds of review, one in the summer of 2012, and the other in the spring of 2013.  Over 50,000 comments were addressed.

Mach and Mastrandrea worked with the co-chairs to produce the summaries—a 100-page technical summary and the high-profile 32-page policymaker summary. Their perspective allowed them to see the patterns, similarities, and overlap among the different topics to highlight the most important findings. The policymaker summary was sent for government review in October 2013, with Mach and Mastrandrea coordinating the comment response process.

As a last step, the policymaker summary went through a line-by-line approval process at a March 2014 meeting in Japan. Government representatives, scientists, and others gathered in an auditorium for a 5-day, virtually non-stop review co-chaired by Field and Vicente Barros. Every line was scrutinized aloud. In the end, all IPCC governments and scientists were in full consensus of the content.

 

 

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Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science,
September 20, 2017

Global biological diversity is under enormous and increasing threat from habitat loss caused by land use and climate change. Responding to this problem requires strategies that integrate elements of governance, economics, human welfare, and other societal factors. It also requires the use of geographically explicit approaches to generate safe havens for biodiversity, both in the long-term and as immediate barriers to the ongoing extinction crisis.

Prioritization of new regions for protection is often undertaken with incomplete and/or outdated information on the geography of biodiversity.  In response, Greg Asner and colleagues have created and utilized a novel capability to map

Greg Asner Receives Heinz Award
September 14, 2017

Carnegie staff scientist Greg Asner has been awarded the 22nd Heinz Award for the Environment,* “ for developing ultra-high-resolution imaging technology that provides unprecedented detail on the biodiversity and health of the world’s forests and coral reefs, and the impact of deforestation, land degradation and climate change.” The annual award comes with a cash award of $250,000.

Asner was hired in 2001 as the Department of Global Ecology’s first staff scientist. Since coming to Carnegie, Asner has pioneered new methods for investigating tropical deforestation, degradation, ecosystem diversity, invasive species, carbon emissions, climate change, and much more using satellite and

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, William and Leander Anderegg
August 9, 2017

Washington, DC— The amount of time it takes for an ecosystem to recover from a drought is an important measure of a drought’s severity. During the 20th century, the total area of land affected by drought increased, and longer recovery times became more common, according to new research published by Nature by a group of scientists including Carnegie’s Anna Michalak and Yuanyuan Fang.

Scientists predict that more-severe droughts will occur with greater frequency in the 21st century, so understanding how ecosystems return to normal again will be crucial to preparing for the future. However, the factors that influence drought recovery have been largely unknown until now.

Carnegie Science, Carnegie Institution, Carnegie Institution for Science, NASA Earth Observatory
July 27, 2017

Washington, DC— If climate change is not curbed, increased precipitation could substantially overload U.S. waterways with excess nitrogen, according to a new study from Carnegie’s Eva Sinha and Anna Michalak and Princeton University’s Venkatramani Balaji published by Science. Excess nutrient pollution increases the likelihood of events that severely impair water quality. The study found that impacts will be especially strong in the Midwest and Northeast.

Rainfall and other precipitation washes nutrients from human activities like agriculture and fossil fuel combustion into rivers and lakes. When these waterways get overloaded with nutrients, a phenomenon called “eutrophication,”

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Anna Michalak’s team combined sampling and satellite-based observations of Lake Erie with computer simulations and determined that the 2011 record-breaking algal bloom in the lake was triggered by long-term agricultural practices coupled with extreme precipitation, followed by weak lake circulation and warm temperatures. The bloom began in the western region in mid-July and covered an area of 230 square miles (600 km2). At its peak in October, the bloom had expanded to over 1930 square miles (5000 km2). Its peak intensity was over 3 times greater than any other bloom on record. The scientists predicted that, unless agricultural policies change, the lake will continue to experience

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Chris Field is a co-principal investigator of the Jasper Ridge Global Change Experiment at the Jasper Ridge Biological Preserve in northern California. The site, designed to exploit grasslands as models for understanding how ecosystems may respond to climate change, hosts a number of studies of the potential effects from elevated atmospheric carbon dioxide, elevated temperature, increased precipitation, and increased nitrogen deposition. The site houses experimental plots that replicate all possible combinations of the four treatments and additional sampling sites that control for the effects of project infrastructure. Studies focus on several integrated ecosystem responses to the

Until now, computer models have been the primary tool for estimating photosynthetic productivity on a global scale. They are based on estimating a measure for plant energy called gross primary production (GPP), which is the rate at which plants capture and store a unit of chemical energy as biomass over a specific time. Joe Berry was part of a team that took an entirely new approach by using satellite technology to measure light that is emitted by plant leaves as a byproduct of photosynthesis as shown by the artwork.

The plant produces fluorescent light when sunlight excites the photosynthetic pigment chlorophyll. Satellite instruments sense this fluorescence yielding a direct

Guillermo Blanc wants to understand the processes by which galaxies form and evolve over the course of the history of the universe. He studies local galaxies in the “present day” universe as well as very distant and therefore older galaxies to observe the early epochs of galaxy evolution. Blanc conducts a series of research projects on the properties of young and distant galaxies, the large-scale structure of the universe, the nature of Dark Energy—the mysterious repulsive force, the process of star formation at galactic scales, and the measurement of chemical abundances in galaxies.

To conduct this work, he takes a multi-wavelength approach including observations in the UV,

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He received his BS and Ph D from the University of Utrecht in The Netherlands. Prior to joining Carnegie he was on the faculty of the University of Michigan.

Peter Driscoll studies the evolution of Earth’s core and magnetic field including magnetic pole reversal. Over the last 20 million or so years, the north and south magnetic poles on Earth have reversed about every 200,000, to 300,000 years and is now long overdue. He also investigates the Earth’s inner core structure; core-mantle coupling; tectonic-volatile cycling; orbital migration—how Earth’s orbit moves—and tidal dissipation—the dissipation of tidal forces between two closely orbiting bodies. He is also interested in planetary interiors, dynamos, upper planetary atmospheres and exoplanets—planets orbiting other stars. He uses large-scale numerical simulations in much of his research

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Newman received his AB in physics and mathematics from the Washington University in St. Louis, and his MS and Ph D in astrophysics from Caltech. Before becomming a staff astronomer in 2015, he was a