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November 2007

IPCC contributors share in Nobel Peace Prize

It was no ordinary morning: on October 11 several dozen staff learned that a group they were part of had won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

“My husband saw the news first and when he came upstairs to tell me, I didn’t quite believe it,” says Kathy Miller (SERE/ISSE). “When I realized it was true, I felt like our efforts were finally paying off.”

The prize was awarded to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and former Vice President Al Gore.

The IPCC involved scientists from around the world. Forty NCAR staff served as coordinating lead authors, lead authors, reviewers, or contributors on the 2007 report. An even greater number have contributed to previous IPCC reports since the panel was formed in 1988.

peace prize

Contributors to the IPCC line the stage during a celebration at Center Green on October 18.

In addition, a group of JOSS staff worked exclusively for the IPCC under NOAA’s Susan Solomon, handling travel arrangements and other logistics, and publishing some of the panel’s 2007 assessment reports. Many UCAR/NCAR technical and support staff, including software engineers, data specialists, and administrators, have played important behind-the-scenes roles, particularly in ESSL/CGD, CISL, and F&A.

The Nobel committee cited the IPCC’s two decades of scientific reports for having “created an ever-broader informed consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming.” The panel’s fourth assessment reports, published this year, present a clear picture of a planet undergoing a rapid climate transition with significant societal and environmental impacts.

At an all-staff party held on October 18 to celebrate the prize, NCAR director Tim Killeen congratulated all contributors and invited them onto the Center Green auditorium stage. “This is a once-in-a-lifetime moment for us,” he said.

Tim went on to describe the decades of patience, dedication, and diligent work that went into making “an analysis of the human relationship with the planet in such a way that is going to affect all future generations.”

UCAR president Rick Anthes also praised the group. “It’s truly an amazing achievement that thousands of scientists and officials from over 100 countries have been able to collaborate and create a consensus about the connection between human activities and global warming,” he said.

“You went way, way beyond your job descriptions, and way beyond the call of duty,” he continued. “You truly have made a difference.”

IPCC contributors from other Boulder-area research organizations were invited to attend the celebration, which included a spread of appetizers provided by Event Services.

For the 2007 report, Kevin Trenberth (CGD), Jerry Meehl (CGD), and Guy Brasseur (ESSL) served as coordinating lead authors for the section of the assessment that details the science of climate change. Five other scientists served as lead authors of that report: Bill Collins (CGD), Beth Holland (ACD), Reto Knutti (CGD), Linda Mearns (ISSE), and Bette Otto-Bliesner (CGD).

Linda, Kathy, and Paty Romero-Lankao (ISSE) served as lead authors for the section that focuses on the potential impacts of climate change and how society can adapt.

The prize resulted in a busy few days for some of the scientists, who fielded calls from the media.

“I expect this will provide greater visibility to the issue of climate change and to the importance of educating the general public and decision makers about this critical problem,” Kevin says.

“I am hopeful that this kind of recognition will help to overcome inertia so we can achieve progress on the policy front,” Kathy adds.

On the Web

List of current and former staff who, while at NCAR or UCAR, have served as authors or reviewers for any of the four IPCC assessments conducted since 1990

More about NCAR’s connection to the Nobel Peace Prize

In this issue...

IPCC contributors share in Nobel Peace Prize

Remembering John Firor and Janet Roberts

Sunrise test flight successful

Same library, new home

A firsthand look at disappearing sea ice

NCAR launches Women in Science committee

Fantastic forum

Staff win awards for science, multicultural service

Just One Look


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