Health :: Lab scientists contributed to work behind Nobel Peace Prize

More than 40 Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory employees are key scientific contributors to the reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which today, along with former Vice President Al Gore, won the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize.

The Norwegian Nobel Committee today announced that the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 is to be shared, in two equal parts, between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Gore for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about manmade climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.

The Lab’s Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI) has made major contributions to all four of the IPCC reports, from the First Assessment Report in 1990 to the Fourth Assessment Report in 2007.

“Many PCMDI scientists have worked diligently to improve our scientific understanding of the nature and causes of climate change, and to facilitate the distribution of climate model data to our entire community,” said Benjamin Santer, one of the Lab contributors. “I’m delighted that the award of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize to the IPCC recognizes the contributions of many, and not simply the contributions of one or two individuals.”

By awarding the Nobel Peace Prize for 2007 to the IPCC and Gore, the Norwegian Nobel Committee is seeking to contribute to a sharper focus on the processes and decisions that appear to be necessary to protect the world’s future climate, and thereby to reduce the threat to the security of mankind.

“Our scientists have been lead authors on the IPCC reports since 1990,” said Tomás Díaz de la Rubia, associate director for the Lab’s Chemistry, Materials, Earth & Life Sciences Directorate. “The Department of Energy’s Office of Biological and Environmental Research funded the PCMDI program at the Lab and the scientists are a key element in providing comparisons and assessments of worldwide climate models that ultimately go into the IPCC conclusions and recommendations. LLNL scientists, indeed, play a strong, central role in the IPCC that was just awarded the Nobel peace prize today.”

“This is the ultimate recognition of the importance of this work,” said Jane Long, principal associate director at large for Global Security at LLNL, “as well as justification for why this type of research needs to continue.”

In the opening acknowledgements of the 4th Assessment Report of the IPCC, Working Group I Co-Chair Susan Solomon thanked PCMDI for “the archiving and distribution of an unprecedented amount of climate model output,” and PCMDI was publicly honored by the IPCC itself with the presentation of a plaque with the inscription, “In recognition of extraordinary contributions to the Fourth Assessment Reports.”

Within Chapter 8 of the 4th Assessment Report, specifically notes that: “Perhaps the most important change from earlier efforts was the collection of a more comprehensive set of model output, hosted centrally at the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI)…The enhancement in diagnostic analysis of climate model results represents an important step forward since the Third Assessment Report.”

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was created in 1988 in response to growing concern about the risk of anthropogenic climate change. The General Assembly of the United Nations asked the two UN bodies most engaged in the issue, the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment Programme, to set up this panel to provide the best available information on climate change science, the likely impacts of climate change and mitigation and adaptation strategies.

The First Assessment Report of 1990 was submitted to the UN General Assembly, which responded by formally recognizing that climate change required global action and launched the negotiations that led to the adoption of the 1992 UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.

The Second Assessment Report published in 1996 reached the historic conclusion that the “balance of evidence suggests a discernible human influence on global climate.” Lab research in “climate fingerprinting” made an important contribution to this conclusion and to subsequent IPCC findings, and helped to strengthen the scientific case for a pronounced human influence on many different aspects of the climate system.

Hundreds of worldwide authors have devoted an incredible amount of time and labor to writing and reviewing IPCC the reports. None of the authors has been paid for their time.

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