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Getting "down to earth" on climate change effects subject of 32nd Hanford Symposium

October 12, 1993 Share This!

RICHLAND, Wash. – Predicting and understanding the effects of global climate change at scales relevant to humans and the environment is the focus of the 32nd annual Hanford Symposium on Health and the Environment. The symposium will be held October 19-21, 1993, at the Best Western Tower Inn in Richland, Washington.

Entitled "Regional Impacts of Global Climate Change: Assessing Change and Response at the Scales That Matter," the symposium is expected to draw approximately 100 experts from around the world.

Although the magnitude and timing of climate change impacts is uncertain, government and industry are beginning to factor potential effects into their long-range planning. However, most climate change research has focused on "global scale" impacts, where potential effects are predicted only for large geographical areas. To provide an accurate, scientific basis for these decisions, scientists now are "scaling down" their research to identify and understand potential climate change impacts to individual ecosystems, geographic regions and specific human populations.

"For example, to identify specific effects of climate change on forest growth, agriculture productivity and water supplies in Washington state, we need to determine how climate change varies across the region," said William Pennell, symposium chairman and a science manager in the Global Studies Program at the U.S. Department of Energy's Pacific Northwest Laboratory. "Current global climate change predications do not come close to providing this type of detailed information."

At this year's symposium, scientists will describe progress in predicting climate change at small geographical scales and in evaluating the effects of these changes. Discussions will focus on potential impacts to human health and infrastructure, agriculture, ecosystems, water and energy resources and nuclear waste storage. The symposium also will provide a forum to examine how science can aid public policy decisions that ultimately will affect us all.

"Predicting climate change and its consequences will invariably be fraught with uncertainty," Pennell said. "We hope information shared at the symposium will bring us closer to clarifying the types of research needed to reduce this uncertainty and to guide policy decisions for making society less vulnerable to inevitable changes in the Earth's climate."

During the three-day symposium, approximately 40 papers will be presented by representatives from government, educational and research institutions including the National Center for Atmospheric Research, Carnegie Mellon University, the Chinese Academy of Meteorological Sciences and the Harvard School of Public Health.

Tags: Energy, Environment, Fundamental Science, Climate Science

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