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Hofmann on Advisory Committee for Climate Change Research

Old Dominion University physical oceanographer Eileen Hofmann serves on the select committee that prepared the comprehensive report on climate-change research released late in February by the National Research Council.

The report suggests that the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) expand its investigations beyond the physical climate system to include research about human reactions to a changing climate and how societies can mitigate and adapt to the impacts.

Hofmann, who is affiliated with ODU's Center for Coastal Physical Oceanography, is broadly known for her work on coupled physical-biological models, including research of ecosystems in the Southern Ocean off Antarctica and of the role of environmental conditions in structuring oyster populations on the East Coast of the United States.

She was one of 15 scientists and engineers from academia and industry who served on the Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

The committee said that the CCSP is hindered by its limited research into the social sciences. The report found that spending on human-dimension research has never exceeded 3 percent of the CCSP research budget, and therefore modeling of how people interact with or effect their environments is lacking. New research that is recommended could eventually help communities deal with extreme weather, sea level rise and melting ice, fluxes in fresh water availability, agriculture and food security issues, and new and re-emerging diseases, according to the report.

A specific priority recommended by the committee is the establishment of a U.S. climate observing system that includes physical, biological and social observations to ensure the collection of data needed to address climate change.

The committee was chaired by Veerabhadran Ramanathan, distinguished professor of atmospheric and climate sciences at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. The National Academy of Sciences, National Academy of Engineering, Institute of Medicine and National Research Council make up the National Academies. These institutions are independent and nonprofit, and provide science, technology and health policy advice under a congressional charter.

This article was posted on: March 4, 2009

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