Foreword

The Scientific Committee on Problems of the Environment (SCOPE) publishes this book as the second in a series of rapid assessments of the important biogeochemical cycles that are essential to life on this planet. SCOPE's aim is to make sure that experts meet on a regular basis to discuss and summarize recent advances within disciplines and evaluate their possible significance in understanding environmental problems and potential solutions. The SCOPE rapid assessment series attempts to ensure that the information so generated is published and made available within a year from the date of the synthesis. These assessments provide timely, definitive syntheses of important issues for scientists, students, and policy makers.

The present volume is intended to be a successor to SCOPE carbon books of the 1970s and 1980s and to complement recent Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports on the scientific basis of climate change, the impacts of climate change, and the potential for mitigation of climate change. This volume's main concept is that the carbon cycle, climate, and humans work together as a single system. This type of system-level approach focuses the science on a number of issues that are almost certain to be important in the future. It should provide a timely examination of the practical consequences of this knowledge and facilitate its application in enhancing the sustainabil-ity of ecosystems affected by humans.

This synthesis volume is a joint project of two bodies sponsored by the International Council of Science (ICSU): SCOPE and the Global Carbon Project (GCP). SCOPE is one of twenty-six interdisciplinary bodies established by the ICSU to address cross-disciplinary issues. In response to emerging environmental concerns, the ICSU established SCOPE in 1969 in recognition that many of these concerns required scientific input spanning several disciplines represented within its membership. Representatives of forty member countries and twenty-two international, disciplinary-specific unions, scientific committees, and associates currently participate in the work of SCOPE, which directs particular attention to developing countries. The mandate of SCOPE is to assemble, review, and synthesize the information available on environmental changes attributable to human activity and the effects of these changes on humans; to assess and evaluate methodologies for measuring environmental parameters; to provide an intel-

xxi ligence service on current research; and to provide informed advice to agencies engaged in studies of the environment.

The recently formed Global Carbon Project is a shared partnership between the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). The attention of the scientific community, policy makers, and the general public increasingly focuses on the rising concentration of greenhouse gases, especially carbon dioxide (CO2), in the atmosphere and on the carbon cycle in general. Initial attempts, through the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and its Kyoto Protocol, are underway to slow the rate of increase of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere. These societal actions require a scientific understanding of the carbon cycle and are placing increasing demands on the international science community to establish a common, mutually agreed knowledge base to support policy debate and action. The Global Carbon Project aims to meet this challenge by developing a complete picture of the global carbon cycle, including both its biophysical and human dimensions together with the interactions and feedbacks between them.

John W. B. Stewart, Editor-in-Chief

SCOPE Secretariat

51 Boulevard de Montmorency, 75016 Paris, France

Executive Director: VĂ©ronique Plocq-Fichelet

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