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Hot issues in climate change research to be debated at AAAS Annual Meeting

onsiderable insight on complex climate change issues.

"The question of how much climate change was responsible for extreme weather eventssuch as hurricanes, droughts, downpourswas a major focus for us," Melillo says. "We have made real progress in quantifying the relationship between climate change and extreme weather. Part of the story is that climate change alters the context for any weather event now, but we still have much to learn." Understanding of ocean acidification and its consequences, Melillo says, has also improved.

Among the scientific issues that still loom large, and are likely to generate discussion at the AAAS panel, are:

  • Downscaling predictions of climate change to smaller geographic units, such as a county or municipality, so public and private decision-makers can prepare for the impacts. What are the pros and cons of various approaches to downscaling?

  • Reliably predicting extreme weather events.

  • Assessing environmental problems that have multiple drivers or factors, and attributing the relative contribution of those factors to the outcome.

  • Adapting to climate change impacts; quantifying the benefits and costs of adaptation; evaluating the efficacy of various adaptation measures; and understanding what spurs action on and acceptance of adaptation measures. Several of these topics will require new partnerships between natural and social scientists.

"We want to bring forward as rich a discussion as we can about these challenges, both among the speakers and with the audience," says Melillo.


Contact: Diana Kenney
Marine Biological Laboratory

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