The International Center for Climate Governance (ICCG) is pleased to award the winner of the ICCG’s 2014 Climate Think Tank Award with a special event at FEEM premises in Milan.

On October 5th at 12:00 p.m., Prof. Carlo Carraro, Coordinator of FEEM’s CCSD Programme and ICCG Director will award Dr. Scott Goetz, Deputy Director and Senior Scientist of the Woods Hole Research Center (WHRC, Falmouth, Massachusetts, USA), winner of the 2014 Think Tank Ranking Award for the second time in a row.

Following the award ceremony Dr. Scott Goetz will deliver a Lecture focusing on the research conducted by WHRC on “Changes in the Arctic and their Climate Feedback Implications”.

Arctic surface air temperatures have risen at approximately twice the global rate, generating a range of ecosystem responses and associated climate feedbacks. Well-documented examples include changes in vegetation productivity, fire disturbance, the expansion of woody shrubs into tundra, and associated changes in surface reflectivity and permafrost degradation.

Dr. Goetz will briefly review these and other changes across the pan-Arctic domain using a combination of field measurements and satellite remote sensing observations being conducted by the Woods Hole Research Center, thus will summarize the evidence for change that has already occurred, as documented in various time series data sets, and also discuss predictions of likely future ecosystem responses under different climate change scenarios. Dr. Goetz will identify research and data needs that would help to resolve discrepancies and disparities that have been reported. In particular, model predictions indicate rapid shifts to larger woody growth-forms, rapid colonization due to long-distance dispersal, and favorable conditions for vegetation recruitment following disturbances like tundra fire and thermal erosion of permafrost. Future albedo, evapotranspiration and aboveground biomass will change with the redistribution of Arctic vegetation, and the climate feedbacks of these ecosystem changes will be significant.

Albedo and net surface shortwave radiation changes will dominate the influence on climate, largely due to the snow masking effects of taller vegetation. The carbon implications of Arctic ecosystem change will also be dominated by processes that influence permafrost thaw vulnerability, but predictions indicate that vegetation in the Arctic will affect climate primarily as a biophysical medium (i.e. via albedo change). As with thawing permafrost, predicted vegetation changes would exacerbate currently amplified rates of regional warming. New interdisciplinary research efforts focused on the Arctic, particularly NASA’s Arctic Boreal Vulnerability Experiment (ABoVE), will address the research and data needs to inform our understanding of the net feedback of multiple ecosystem responses to climate, increasing confidence in our ability to understand changes that are already being observed, predict future change, and the implications for climate, ecosystems and people both within and outside the Arctic domain.

Finally, Dr. Goetz will touch upon various educational advancement and policy intervention activities that the WHRC is pursuing to raise awareness of the Arctic as a critical component in maintaining a climate that will be habitable for the future of humanity.

Working language: English
Admission free. Registration is required. For information and registration: or 041/2700444 (Giovanna Bettio).


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