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Iowa State University meeting launches a project and an institute

A preliminary workshop of the Project to Intercompare Regional Climate Simulations (PIRCS) was held at the new International Institute of Theoretical and Applied Physics (IITAP) at Iowa State University (ISU) in November. IITAP and the Center for Global and Regional Environmental Research at the University of Iowa cosponsored the workshop. The purpose of the workshop was to bring together a group of mesoscale modelers to discuss the needs and methods for evaluating mesoscale models run in climate mode driven by observed boundary conditions. Thirty-five attendees from Canada, Denmark, Germany, and the United States represented 17 distinct models.

The meeting was called to coincide with the official launching of IITAP through the signing of an agreement between ISU and the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The institute is divided into six "thrust areas": materials science, fundamental science, biophysics, computers and communications, applied science, and environmental and earth sciences.

The first day of the workshop was devoted to presentations designed to give participants a common framework for approaching the intercomparison. After a welcome by Martin Jischke, president of ISU and UCAR trustee, UCAR president Richard Anthes gave an overview of mesoscale modeling and its advantage in revealing more detail and variability in regional climate simulations. Jerry Potter of Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory reported on AMIP, the Atmospheric Model Intercomparison Project, and Clement Chouinard of Environnement Canada discussed the progress and experiences of COMPARE (Comparison of Mesoscale Prediction and Research Experiments) the intercomparison of mesoscale models run in 36-hour forecast mode. Federico Mayor, director-general of UNESCO, commented on the need for both basic and applied science in developing countries: "There is no applied science if there is no science to apply!" He pointed out that there are 30,000 scientifically active Ph.D. scientists from sub-Sahelian Africa residing in developed countries, and that there is an urgent need to provide training and support for scientists to work in developing countries. He also indicated an intent to launch a quarterly "State of the Planet" document to facilitate use of environmental information by policy makers.

Federico Mayor, director-general of UNESCO, spoke of the need for science and scientists in developing countries. He also gave a public address in the evening on "Culture of Peace: Science, Education and UNESCO."

Frederick Semazzi of North Carolina State University reported on mesoscale simulations he had done for the Sahel region and the need for more numerical simulation research on environmental issues unique to this area. University of Iowa hydrologist Witold Krajewski discussed the hydrological perspective on mesoscale modeling.

Filippo Giorgi of NCAR led a discussion focusing on objectives of an intercomparison project and what it could achieve. William Gutowski of Iowa State proposed a draft mission statement for the project that was given tentative approval by the group. Discussion of the design of the initial experiment and, in particular, the space and time domains, was led by Jens Hesselbjerg Christensen of the Danish Meteorological Institute. He and Daniela Jacob of the Max-Planck Institute for Meteorology described the experience of European groups that have done regional climate model intercomparisons for Europe. The consensus of workshop participants was that the first experiment should focus on the midwestern United States and consist of two parts. The first simulation would be of a one- to three-month period covering the drought of 1988. A second phase would study the floods of 1993 over the same region.

Discussion on the initial and lateral boundary conditions was led by Rene Laprise of the University of Quebec at Montreal. Chouinard followed with a discussion on verification and made several recommendations based on the COMPARE experience.

The workshop concluded with a strong endorsement of the IITAP concept to involve scientists from developing countries in the experiment. IITAP will provide opportunities for such scientists to participate in PIRCS data analysis while in residence at ISU or other host institutions and through Internet connections to their home countries. IITAP was also encouraged to facilitate collection of a data set for Africa that would form the observational basis for a future intercomparison focusing on a tropical region.

Details of the workshop may be found on the IITAP home page:

The full text of Mayor's speech is at

PIRCS workshop organizers emphasize that the intercomparison is open to groups not able to attend the initial meeting. Says Eugene Takle, workshop co-organizer and coordinator of the IITAP Environmental and Earth Science Thrust Area, "We definitely want this to be a community effort." For more information, contact Takle at 3010 Agronomy Hall, Iowa State University, Ames, IA 50011 (gstakle@iastate.edu; 515-294-9871; fax: 515-294-3163).

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Edited by Carol Rasmussen, carolr@ucar.edu
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Last revised: Mon Apr 3 17:49:41 MDT 2000