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Fostering Advances in Interdisciplinary Climate Science

Organized by Rita Colwell, Christopher Field, Jeffrey Shaman, and Susan Solomon

March 31 to April 2, 2011
Washington, DC

Meeting Overview:
Climate science is addressing issues that require an increasingly interdisciplinary perspective, posing new challenges to scientists and to the organization and support of this science. Like other interdisciplinary activities, recognition and support of interdisciplinary climate science by the broader scientific community—including university and government administrators, journal editors and reviewers, and funding agencies—is advancing slowly. Often it is easier to recognize ideas that would represent major advances within a discipline than ideas that would provide major advances but cut across multiple disciplinary foundations. This circumstance poses a challenge to interdisciplinary research and may slow interdisciplinary scientific advances. Such issues are of particular significance for studies of climate impacts, which may, for example, represent linkages between physical and social science, as well as feedback among physical, chemical, and biological systems.

This Sackler Colloquium provided a forum for addressing these issues, specifically, how high-quality interdisciplinary scientific ideas are best recognized and nurtured in their nascent phase, and how this recognition process can be  improved to better support interdisciplinary climate science advances. The colloquium examined the history of successful, innovative interdisciplinary scientific advances, drawing on experience not only in climate science but also in other fields.  The purpose of the colloquium was to identify patterns in the evolutions of research in these area. Are there common characteristics and/or principles that allowed critical efforts to succeed, thereby leading to significant advances?  Did they begin as small concepts or as big, break-out ideas?  How were these efforts nurtured, supported, or hindered? At what career stages were the primary researchers? How might future, novel interdisciplinary ideas in climate science be better identified?

  Video Available   

Thursday, March 31, 2011

11th Annual Sackler Lecture:

  "The Energy and Climate Change Challenge: Risks and Opportunities"  
Steven Chu, U.S. Secretary of Energy

Friday, April 1, 2011

Opening Remarks:

Ralph Cicerone, National Academy of Sciences

  Toward a Comprehensive Earth-System Model 
Ronald Prinn, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

  The Rise of Interdisciplinary Climate Research  
Spencer Weart, AIP Center for History of Physics (retired) 

  My Affair with El Niño; Interdisciplinary Reminiscences and Present Preoccupations  
Mark Cane, Columbia University

  The Fingerprints of Sea Level Change 
Jerry Mitrovica, Harvard University

Conversations across Divides: Reflections on Social Science Contributions to Interdisciplinary
 Climate Science and Policy
Diana Liverman, Institute of the Environment, University of Arizona

  Climate Health and Disease 
Peter Daszak, EcoHealth Alliance

  The Land as a Source or Sink of Carbon—Past, Present and Future 
Susan Trumbore, Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry

Biodiversity, Ecosystem Services and Climate Change: the Science, Assessments, Observations and Policy Responses
Harold Mooney, Stanford University

Saturday, April 2, 2011

Journal Panel:

  Georges Benjamin, American Journal of Public Health  
  Philip Campbell, Nature  
  Randy Schekman, Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences  

Government Agency Panel:

John Balbus, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences 
  Ari Patrinos, Synthetic Genomics, Inc.  

Foundation Panel:

  Maria Pellegrini, W.M. Keck Foundation  
  William Robertson, The Andrew W. Mellon Foundation  

Closing Remarks

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