20 October 2023, by Ute Kreis
Photo: UHH/CEN/S. Nandini-Weiß
Hamburg colleagues in Kigali (left to right): Detlef Stammer, Chair of the WCRP; Sri Durgesh Nandini-Weiß from the University's Cluster of Excellence for Climate Research CLICCS, Sarah Kang Director at Hamburg's Max Planck Institute for Meteorology (MPI-M) and Chao Li also CLICCS/MPI-M.
From October 23 – 27, Kigali, Rwanda will host the Climate Research Programme (WCRP) Open Science Conference – a cutting-edge event that will bring together researchers and stakeholders in an unprecedented way. Prof. Detlef Stammer from the Center for Earth System Research and Sustainability is Chair of the WCRP. Before he departed for the conference, we asked him about his expectations.
Professor Stammer, the event in Kigali is an open conference. Why?
“We’re currently at a very critical point in the evolution of the Earth system. It’s time to think about what it will mean to live in a warmer world – about what we know so far, and about what kind of research we’ll need in the years and decades to come. To do so, we need to hear about all related problems, gather input from diverse academic disciplines, and try to find suitable solutions for each one. That goes far beyond standard scientific exchanges.”
How many participants do you expect?
“Roughly 1,500 people have registered for the event, with more or less half attending live and half online. In this regard, the COVID years taught us plenty of lessons – and now we’ve not only made the conference significantly climate-friendlier, but also made it more accessible for the relevant target groups. About half of the participants hail from the Global South.”
It sounds like there will be a broad range of perspective and types of expertise. But, given the global nature of the problem, it still might not be enough. What’s the next step? Will you try to get politicians on board?
“First, we’ll release daily summaries on the main topics, so that everyone can get informed and take part. At the end of the event, we’ll issue the Kigali Declaration, a review of the most important points and research needs, which will be agreed upon on the last day of the conference – essentially, the central message from the international climate research community, which we’ll take with us to the COP (Editor’s note: UN Climate Change Conference, early December 2023 in Dubai).”
Which topics will be discussed there?
“On the one hand, advances in climate research, that is, new findings on predictability and physical phenomena like storms or monsoons – or more generally, on interactions between the atmosphere, land and ocean. But another central aspect will be the connections between climate and society, for example, in connection with the global carbon cycle, the impacts of land-use changes, or how our actions affect ecosystems, food security and health. The third pillar will consist of potential solutions and services and address aspects such as regional information, observation systems, and providing information for political and administrative decisionmakers. Not to mention attribution research, that is, research into how climatic trends and extremes are connected to climate change.”