Global Climate Conference Gets Under Way In Burlington

Mar 22, 2016

An international conference is kicking off today in Burlington. It helps bring the science of climate change to those who implement policy and create practical applications for climate science.

The Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop is held at various locations across the U.S. annually. It brings scientists and stakeholders together to share the latest developments in climate science and determine how the data can be converted to tools that can be practically used.

Vermont State Climatologist and University of Vermont Professor of Geology Lesley-Ann Dupigny-Giroux is an organizer of the 14th annual conference being held in Burlington this week.   “The crux of it is to allow scientists and stakeholders to see what are the new tools, what are the new sets of information, and allow these scientists who are actually developing those tools to get direct feedback from people who use them in the context that the scientists themselves may or may not be aware of. So it’s essentially a data sharing between science development and science use.”

Dupigny-Giroux notes that many of the tools are being developed as part of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan.   “We’re looking at different ways of either analyzing data or performing analyses or visualizing the results in a way that makes sense to an entire spectrum of users. From other scientists all the way to folks who use it on a more day to day basis in regional planning commissions, or state agencies, or water resource conservation districts and so forth.  We’re essentially looking at how do you bring the information that allow you to make the decisions that you need to make.”

This year’s conference features the head of the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization — which co-established the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.  Sessions and workshops include climate and health, food resilience, and interactive decision tools.

Regional Climatologist at Cornell University’s Northeast Regional Climate Center Keith Eggleston will discuss how climate data can be practically interpreted and used.   “The applied climate information has been developed over the last several years and conferences like this allow us to find out what the needs of users are.  What ways they need to have the data summarized to make it most useful to them.  So that’s one of the ways that a conference like this is particularly useful.  It gets together the users of climate data together with the people that have the databases so that they can provide it in a more meaningful way.”

Eggleston emphasizes that what sets this conference apart is the interaction of the users and providers of climate data.   “In this particular conference we have an opportunity to interact with people from other fields and what’s particularly interesting is to find out what those people are doing, what their needs are for climate data, so that we can take the data that we have and make it useful to them. So it’s a great opportunity for us to get together with the people that are out there in the field making decisions based on the type of climatological data that we have.”

Dupigny-Giroux says individuals from across the globe are in Burlington for the conference.   “We have representation from Indonesia, Belgium, Japan. We have the President of the World Meteorological Organization, the director of the Global Framework for Climate Services of the World Meteorological Organization, the governor of the state of Vermont, the chief of the Disaster Risk Reduction Programs at the United Nations. It’s huge.”

More than 130 people registered and 10 keynoters are scheduled to speak during the three-day workshop.