World Climate Research Program (Global Warming)

The world climate Research Program (WCRP) is sponsored by the International Council for Science (ICSU), the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), and the Intergovernmental Oceano-graphic Commission (IOC) of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). The program brings together the intellectual and structural potentialities related to climate and climate change of more than 185 countries. The program thus aims to work as an international forum to share scientific discoveries and facilities to advance the understanding of the phenomena that influence climate. The two underlying objectives of the WCRP are to determine the predictability of climate and to assess the effect of human activities on it.

These two objectives stem from the needs identified by the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. To achieve its objectives, the WCRP adopts a multidisciplinary approach, organizes extensive observational and modeling projects, and encourages researches on aspects of climate too large and complex to be addressed by any one nation or single scientific discipline. The WCRP is not open exclusively to scientists. On the contrary, it aims to involve different subjects such as policymakers, information end-users, and sponsors in a scientifically accurate debate on climate change and variability.

The WCRP was established in 1980. It was initially joint-sponsored by the ICSU and the WMO. Since 1993, the IOC of UNESCO has also become a sponsor of the program. Since its establishment, the WCRP has contributed to the advancement of climate science. Thanks to WCRP researchers, climate scientists can monitor, simulate, and project global climate with improved accuracy so that climate information can be used for governance, in decision making, and in support of a wide range of practical applications. In 2005, after 25 years of serving science and society, the WCRP launched its Strategy Framework 2005-2015, which expresses the program’s commitment to working efficiently and effectively toward strengthening knowledge and increasing capabilities with regard to climate variability and change. Titled the Coordinated Observation and Prediction of the Earth System, the framework aims "to facilitate analysis and prediction of Earth system variability and change for use in an increasing range of practical applications of direct relevance, benefit and value to society." The WCRP is thus devoted to provide a larger series of products and services to an ever-increasing group of users. The WCRP intends to reach this goal through the integration of observations and models to generate new understanding and improve climate predictions.

Today, the WCRP covers studies of the different parts of the Earth’s climate system: global atmosphere, oceans, sea and land ice, the biosphere, and the land surface. The major core projects, diverse working groups, various cross-cutting activities, and many cosponsored activities of the WCRP all aim to improve scientific understanding of processes that can enable better forecasts.

The Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) project studies the dynamics and thermodynamics of the atmosphere, the atmosphere’s interactions with the Earth’s surface (especially over land), and the global water cycle. GEWEX uses suitable models to represent and forecast the variations of the global hydrological regime and its effect on atmospheric and surface dynamics. GEWEX also focuses on variations in regional hydrological processes and water resources and their response to changes in the environment, such as the increase in greenhouse gases. GEWEX projects are divided into three focus areas corresponding to the key elements in the global energy and water cycle: radiation, hydrometeorology, and modeling and prediction.

The Climate Variability and Predictability (CLI-VAR) project, set up in 1995, specifically targets climate variability. Its mission is to observe, simulate, and predict the Earth’s climate system, with a focus on ocean-atmosphere interactions. CLIVAR seeks to develop predictions of climate variations on seasonal to centennial timescales and to refine the estimates of anthropogenic climate change. CLIVAR also includes a Working Group on Seasonal to Interannual Prediction, which oversees development of improved models, assimilation systems, and observing system requirements for seasonal prediction.

The section of WCRP dealing with the Stratospheric Processes and Their Role in Climate (SPARC), founded in 1993, carries out research on the chemistry of the climate system. In particular, it focuses on the interaction of dynamic, radiative, and chemical processes. SPARC’s projects include the construction of stratospheric reference climatology and the improvement of understanding of trends in temperature, ozone, and water vapor in the stratosphere. SPARC also studies gravity wave processes, their role in stratospheric dynamics, and how these may be represented in models.

The Climate and Cryosphere (CliC) project, founded in 2000, measures the effects of climatic variability and change on components of the cryo-sphere and their consequences for the climate system. CliC is also charged with the task of improving the management of data and information relating to the cryosphere and climate, and with making data more readily available for use by the broader scientific community. To this end, CliC has established a Web-based Data and Information Service for CliC.

The Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study aims to quantify the key biogeochemical-physi-cal interactions and feedbacks between the ocean and the atmosphere. WCRP cosponsors the project jointly with the Commission on Atmospheric Chemistry and Global Pollution, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme and the Scientific Committee on Oceanic Research. The project investigates biogeochemical interactions and feedbacks between ocean and atmosphere, exchange processes at the air-sea interface and the role of transport and transformation in the atmospheric and oceanic boundary layers, and air-sea fluxes of carbon dioxide and other long-lived radiatively active gases.

The Working Group on Surface Fluxes was established in 2007 to review the requirements of the different WCRP schemes for surface sea fluxes including biogeochemical fluxes, to coordinate the various related research initiatives, and to encourage research and facilitate operational activities on surface fluxes.

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