February 28, 2022
Staff Accomplishment

O’Neill Helps Lead International Report on Climate Change

PNNL scientist brings his expertise on risks, societal factors to IPCC report

Brian O'Neill

Scientist Brian O'Neill helped lead the synthesis of important climate data for the IPCC report.

(Photo courtesy of Brian O'Neill)

Brian O’Neill, an Earth system scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL), is a leading contributor to an international climate assessment released today.

O’Neill is a lead author of today’s report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), a body of hundreds of scientists from around the world convened by the United Nations to assess the science of climate change and possible actions to minimize its impact.

O’Neill, a chief scientist at the Joint Global Change Research Institute and a PNNL Laboratory fellow, led the compilation of one of the report’s three synthesis chapters, exploring which climate-related risks are most pressing and what impacts are unfolding now.

He is an expert on modeling the potential impacts of climate change by analyzing a host of societal factors that are affected by climate but which also influence how the world reacts to climate change. O’Neill’s work draws on the human dimensions of global environmental changes, including poverty levels, disease, access to health care, education levels, the availability of food, and the political landscape.

“The impact of climate change is inextricably bound up with what else is happening in the world,” said O’Neill, who has contributed hundreds of hours to several IPCC efforts. “It’s not simply the amount of warming that will determine our future. How society changes over time is just as important.”

Today’s report comes from one of IPCC’s three working groups, this one devoted to impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability connected to climate change. The three reports from the groups, which are being issued between August 2021 and April 2022, comprise the organization’s sixth overall assessment.

Published: February 28, 2022