Can America cope with impending climate change? In the uncertain future, what kinds of information do business and government leaders need to make informed decisions on time scales from seasons to decades? What sorts of efforts, and what kinds of new, intelligent, interactive delivery systems, will it take to get accurate, targeted forecasts to the right people in the most useful possible form?
Those were the key questions addressed at a national conference, Climate Information: Responding to User Needs (CIRUN), held at the University of Maryland Inn and Conference Center in College Park on Oct. 22 and 23, 2007. More than 400 experts in dozens of fields - from transportation and insurance to water distribution and national security - met to begin an unprecedented dialogue between climate scientists and decision-makers in commerce and the public sector.
"This landmark event signaled the beginning of a new partnership between providers of climate forecasts and users who urgently need that information to make critical management decisions in a changing world," said CMPS Dean Steve Halperin, who opened the conference with Nariman Farvardin, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Provost.
"The University is committed to continuing and encouraging that partnership in conjunction with our colleagues in federal agencies. Working together, we can create a new generation of climate information systems that provide customized solutions to specific needs, from individual industries to local and regional government," Halperin said.
The CIRUN event was organized by CMPS and the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), and co-sponsored by NOAA and NASA. ESSIC Director Antonio Busalacchi served as co-chairman with James Mahoney, former head of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.
Plenary speakers included former Lockheed-Martin CEO Norman Augustine, former CIA Director R. James Woolsey, and Bryan Hannegan, Vice President for Environment at the Electrical Power Research Institute, among many others. In addition, a dozen 90-minute panel discussions addressed the detailed impact of climate change on specific areas including energy, coastal and marine ecosystems, human health, manufacturing and agriculture.
The meeting also featured a reception and poster session. UMCP Vice President for Research Mel Bernstein closed the conference.
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