ESA to host flagship office to coordinate global climate models

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TAMPA, Fla. — The European Space Agency announced plans Feb. 9 to host an international office to coordinate global climate modeling efforts for at least five years. 

Starting in March, the office for the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), which is partly sponsored by the United Nations’ World Meteorological Organization, will be hosted alongside ESA’s existing climate office in Harwell, U.K.

ESA said the new office will coordinate WCRP’s Climate Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), which brings together modeling centers from 52 institutions across 26 countries that scientists use to forecast climate change.

Demand for CMIP products has grown in recent years to support climate negotiations, according to ESA. 

Individual countries and private companies are also increasingly drawing on climate models to manage the risks — and potential opportunities — associated with changes in the environment.

“With five years of initial funding, the office will be key to ensuring CMIP has the support needed to perform the next generation of climate projections and climate assessments, thereby also supporting the move towards more regional-scale climate change information,” said Detlef Stammer, chair of WCRP’s joint scientific committee.

The office will be run by staff provided by British professional services firm HE Space, which said it won a five-year, four million euro ($4.6 million) contract from ESA.

HE Space said Feb. 9 it has chosen Eleanor O’Rourke, currently a researcher for government-funded environmental organization Zero Waste Scotland, to lead a team for the new office that will be announced later.

O’Rourke is a former director of WCRP’s international project office for the Coordinated Regional Climate Downscaling Experiment, a WCRP framework to evaluate regional climate model performance.