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UNH Scientist Member of Nobel Peace Prize Winning Panel

By David Sims, Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
November 7, 2007

Berrien Moore III, director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at UNH, was among the network of scientists awarded the Nobel Peace Prize as part of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which shared the prize with former Vice President Al Gore.

“Berrien Moore served as a convening lead author for the final chapter in the IPCC Third Assessment Report entitled, ‘Advancing our Understanding,’” said President Mark Huddleston. “Not coincidentally, this title symbolizes Berrien’s contributions as director of the Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space at UNH, as a valued and respected voice in the field of climate change on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., and as a leading presence within the global scientific community.”

For more than 20 years, and in a variety of capacities, Moore has helped lead the scientific charge on how best to study and address global climate change issues. In particular he has focused his attention on steering the scientific community towards a more holistic, Earth-system approach to investigating the changing planet through long-term, satellite-based observation of Earth’s physical and biogeochemical processes.

Moore notes that scientists are looking for very small patterns that tend to take a long time to unfold in the immense, and immensely complex, atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial interplay that drives climate change. Convincing policymakers that time, patience, and money is required to uncover these patterns “is tough sledding, particularly in the U.S,” he said.

Recently Moore appeared on CNN and decried the decline in long-term observational capabilities.

“Whether it’s for climate or oceans, weather forecasting, or geological hazards, there is going to be a significant decline, and the reason is that beginning in the year 2000, the Earth sciences budget at NASA has been cut in real terms by more than a third,” said Moore.

Coincidentally, the need for continued long-term, space-based observation was hammered home last week by a report from the Global Carbon Project showing carbon dioxide levels rising even faster than computer models had predicted.

Discouraged though he may be with developments over the last seven years, Moore does see some potential for hope with respect to steering the ship of science towards an aggressive study and analysis of Earth’s changing climate.

“I do think the message is starting to take hold. If you listen to the presidential candidates debating the issues, across both parties, there is a recognition that we’d better pay a whole lot more attention to the planet – observationally, scientifically – and, perhaps, even be more importantly on the policy side of things,” Moore said.

He adds, “We must understand the Earth as a system, and I think that is the message we must kept banging on over the coming years –that this is not a luxury, not something to satisfy intellectual curiosity. A scientific understanding of the Earth system is required to help human society.”

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