By J C Suresh
In the face of U.S. President Donald Trump claiming that “the concept of global warming was created by and for the Chinese in order to make U.S. manufacturing non-competitive,” international scientists have lauded Canada’s achievements in the field, and called for Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to re-invest in climate science.
In an open letter to him, released in Ottawa on January 22, hundreds of prominent international scientists have raised concern that a crisis is looming for Canadian climate and atmospheric research following the government’s failure to renew or replace the Climate Change and Atmospheric Research (CCAR) program which funded seven research networks.
“Canada is uniquely placed to monitor the changing atmosphere in the high Arctic regions,” said Dr. Clare Murphy, Director of the Centre for Atmospheric Chemistry at the University of Wollongong in Australia. “As such Canadian atmospheric and climate science plays a pivotal role in the global effort to understand our changing environment.”
The CCAR funded projects measure, observe and model many important international environmental issues including: aerosols; biogeochemical tracers in the Arctic Ocean; sea ice and snow cover; weather prediction and climate projection; changes to land, water, and climate; and the temperature of the atmosphere in the high Arctic.
The government provided temporary funding for one of the CCAR projects, the Polar Environment Atmospheric Research Laboratory (PEARL), in November 2017. This funding only goes until 2019 and there has been no new funding announced for the other projects, says the letter.
“At the highest levels of government in the United States, climate science is devalued and dismissed,” says Dr. Benjamin D. Santer, a climate researcher at the U.S. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratories and a MacArthur Fellow.
“In these difficult times, U.S. climate scientists look to our Canadian neighbors for encouragement. Canada possesses unique capabilities for measuring, monitoring, and modeling climate change. I hope that the Canadian government is committed to sustaining these unique capabilities, and is committed to preserving Canada’s role as one of the world’s leaders in climate science.”
The letter highlights the importance of Canadian climate science at a time when research funding is being cut in other countries and urges Prime Minister Trudeau to ensure that Canada continues to be a global leader in climate science by re-investing in these valuable research projects that have international significance.
“Canada is a world leader in climate science, and is uniquely positioned – by geography, resources, and expertise – to observe and study the Arctic, arguably the most critical region on Earth for quantifying how and why the climate is changing and predicting future changes,” says Dr. Gloria Manney, Senior Research Scientist at the Northwest Research Associates in the U.S.
She adds: “Continuous, stable funding support for Canadian atmospheric and climate science is thus crucial to advancing understanding of our planet.” Canadian and U.S. expertise in measuring, analyzing, and modeling changes in climate and weather and their effects on humanity is unparalleled, nors Dr. Manney.
With the U.S. now abdicating leadership on, and potentially undermining support for, climate science in the U.S., sustained support for Canadian climate science is doubly important, the researcher declares
“With the Montreal protocol, Canada has played a unique and pioneering role in the protection of our environment. Since decades, its involvement in the monitoring of the Earth’s atmosphere through satellite and ground-based measurements has been critical for the understanding of the depletion of the ozone layer and climate change,” notes Dr. Sophie Godin-Beekmann, Director of Research at Centre National de La Recherche Scientifique in France and President of International Ozone Commission (IO3C).
She adds: “Arctic is a sentinel of climate change. Due to its location, Canada’s leadership in the study and monitoring of Arctic atmosphere has become even more important to our understanding of the rapidly evolving Arctic climate and environment.”