UNH Web Site Provides One-Stop
Shopping On Climate Change Information
Contact: David Sims
Institute for the Study of Earth, Oceans, and Space
Nov. 29, 2005
DURHAM, N.H. -- How will changing climate affect ecosystems, human
health, agriculture, and economic growth? As the topic of climate
change rapidly becomes one of the world’s more pressing issues,
teachers, students, policymakers, community and business leaders,
members of the media, and the public at large will need to become
better versed in the subject and have easy access to the tools that
provide answers to such questions.
To that end, EOS-WEBSTER, a University of New Hampshire web-based
Earth science digital library, has launched a new site that is a
compendium of the latest climate change information. The site provides
one-stop shopping for the best scientific evidence to date on climate
change, easy access to policy documents, concise summaries of specific
climate change issues, and links to additional resources. At the
heart of the site is state-of-the-art climate change modeling data
that can be tailored to individual needs and downloaded free of
The information available from the “Climate Changes in the
21st Century” collection can be used by a diverse group of
people – from teachers and students at the elementary, middle,
and high school level, undergraduate and graduate college students
to scientists and researchers and members of the public. For example,
teachers can use the scientific data in a variety of forms to show
students how climate is expected to change over both short- and
long-term timescales depending upon economic growth, energy usage,
international cooperation, new technologies, etc.
The new collection is the result of a partnership between EOS-WEBSTER
and the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) in Boulder,
Colorado. NCAR, under the sponsorship of the National Science Foundation
(NSF) and in collaboration with the university community and several
federal agencies, has developed a powerful supercomputer-based system
called the Community Climate System Model (CCSM) to model Earth's
climate and project global temperature rise and the effects of climate
change in coming decades.
EOS-WEBSTER, which stands for “WEB-based System for Terrestrial
Ecosystem Research,” was developed through a $3.5 million
dollar grant from NASA and is now supported by UNH’s Institute
for the Study of Earth, Oceans and Space (EOS). Some 250,000 Earth-science
data products have been distributed to users worldwide since 1999.
The CCSM is yielding new insight into the complexities of the Earth's
climate system and the likely responses of our planet to natural
and man-made influences. The model simulates all the major aspects
of the global climate – the atmosphere, ocean, sea ice, and
the Earth's land surface – using the most current data from
climate scientists on different aspects of the Earth's climate.
The NCAR data will be a key part of the 2007 Intergovernmental Panel
on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Report. The IPCC is widely recognized
as the world’s foremost authority on climate change and released
three previous assessment reports in 1990, 1995, and 2001. Because
of the partnership between EOS-WEBSTER and NCAR, the critical data
to be used in the new IPCC report is now available to the general
public some two years before the next assessment is published.
Denise Blaha, a research associate in the Complex Systems Research
Center at EOS, says that in her initial work developing the EOS-WEBSTER
climate change site she discovered that while there was plenty of
specific information to be found perusing the World Wide Web, there
was no user-friendly, central repository of broad climate change
information that could be used by the lay public.
Says Blaha, “People need to understand that scientists are
in agreement that our climate is changing now, that human activities
are contributing to these changes, and that projections for climate
change in this century warrant governments getting involved and
taking action. That’s really an important piece with respect
to creating this resource, because I think many people still believe
there’s a lot of debate on the topic.”
To view the EOS-WEBSTER Climate Change Resource site, visit http://eos-webster.sr.unh.edu/climate_change.jsp.
Step-by-step assistance on how to access and use the NCAR data and
other resources is available online.