New Climate-Research Center Launched by OSA, AGU, Strathclyde University

Attendees at the dinner celebrating the establishment of the new GEMM center at the University of Strathclyde in Scotland. From left to right: Allister Ferguson (U. Strathclyde), Sheila Rowan, Louise Bedsworth, Tom Baer, and Carol Monaghan (Source: Beth Inadomi / OSA)

The Optical Society announces the launch of a new multidisciplinary climate-research center as part of the Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring (GEMM) Initiative, OSA’s flagship international public policy effort.

The new center – established by the University of Strathclyde in Scotland – is joining a growing global network of regional environmental centers established to better understand and forecast the local impacts of climate change. The Strathclyde center combines the university’s strengths in economics, law, optics and geophysics to better understand Scotland’s resources and their usage and impacts, and follows the launch of the GEMM Initiative at an affiliated event of the Global Climate Action Summit in September 2018.

A workshop to kick off the Strathclyde GEMM Center was held on 13 September 2019 in Glasgow. Among the global dignitaries, technology developers and renowned researchers in attendance were Sheila Rowan, chief scientific adviser for the Scottish government; Carol Monaghan, Member of Parliament, UK; Tom Baer, 2009 OSA president from Stanford University, USA; Louise Bedsworth, a representative of the Governor’s Office of California, USA; and Graeme Roy, head of the Fraser of Allander Institute of the University of Strathclyde.

OSA also announced its collaboration with the American Geophysical Union on the GEMM Initiative. The initiative is engaging universities, research institutes, governments, companies, and nonprofits around the world to form regional climate research centers like the one recently established in Scotland. Other GEMM centers under discussion involve the University of California at Berkeley and Stanford University in the USA, the Dodd-Walls Center for Photonic and Quantum Technologies in New Zealand, and the Sentinel North at Université Laval program in Québec, Canada.

These regional centers will operate independently, sharing new measurement technologies and improving climate models, providing more accurate forecasts of the impacts of climate change on their specific regions, training multidisciplinary researchers, and working closely with climate service organizations to provide crucial data and models for policymakers and communities. OSA and AGU will facilitate sharing of research results and new technology between the centers.

“Climate change is one of the major policy and science challenges facing society in the coming decade and beyond,” said Elizabeth Rogan, OSA’s chief executive officer. “With the launch of this first-of-its-kind center, the GEMM Initiative is on course to provide essential research tools to regional decision makers.”

Priority issues common to the GEMM centers include, among others, developing reliable and cost-effective technologies for mapping air quality in dense urban areas over time and distance, tracking the incursion of saltwater into fresh ground-water sources, predicting the changing seasonal availability of fresh water, and monitoring the rapid and complex changes in the polar environments. Optics and photonics technologies play a key role in many of these measurement challenges.

The GEMM Initiative is exploring additional regional centers to improve data availability, forecasting, instrumentation, and ultimately, policy decisions. The initiative welcomes discussions with interested parties around the world. (Source: OSA)

Link: Fraser of Allander Institute (FAI), Department of Economics, University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK

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