with the driving force of global climate change, a need emerged for a mechanism of international cooperation. In response to this need, the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) appointed a committee for planning and implementation. In 1987, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) was formed, and, in 1989, found headquarters at the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in Stockholm, Sweden. The scope of IGBP's mission is to study the dynamics of Earth's biological, chemical, and physical processes, and climate changes, along with the impact of human actions on Earth systems, and Earth systems on human society. By bringing together the wide range of academic and social disciplines on an international level, IGBP ensures a better understanding of the forces shaping the future. By integrating the knowledge base on all these processes and sharing the information, IGBP envisions a sustainable living Earth.
The initial planning took three years (1987-90) and required cooperation from many scientists (IGPB estimates approximately 500) before implementation of initial projects, 1989-92. The first projects addressed interactions of the water cycle with soil, vegetation, and atmosphere; predicting changes in terrestrial ecosystems from changing climate; determining effects of chemical transformations on the atmosphere and air quality; evaluating ocean circulation effects on atmosphere, sea floor, and continents; and collecting and studying climate change data throughout history. During the 1990s, projects were added to address the role of the coastal zone on Earth systems; evaluate how human and biophysical systems change land surfaces; use Global Analysis, Integration, and Modeling for predicting climate changes and directing research to clarify systems dynamics; create a network for the
international institute for Sustainable Development (IISD)
collation and dissemination of research and coordination of projects internationally; and establish access for exchanging data.
Institutions in Europe, North America, and Australia hosted much of the research. The first phase laying the groundwork and completing initial research ended in 1999. The IGBP evaluated past successes and determined a new set of questions to be answered. IGPB launched the second phase of research, 200413. Some projects were considered complete, such as the water cycle, terrestrial ecosystems, ocean circulation, land surfaces, Global Analysis, Integration and Modeling, and established access for exchanging data. The remaining projects were incorporated with new focuses and joined new projects in restructured research programs to include the major Earth System components (atmosphere, ocean and land), the points of interaction between the components, and the dynamics over time and space.
The study of Earth system science parallels the process of Earth systems, as a whole, for common goals. The commitment of IGBP to integrating the activities with the greater international community has fostered cooperation for developing scientific plans and created dialogue between participants to agree on a science question agenda. By involving hundreds of scientists from around the world, IGBP ensures the development of truly international research frameworks, and fosters the building of international and interdisciplinary networks, within national and regional research efforts.
Supporting the work of IGPB are the secretariat and the International Project Offices (IPOs), which maintain the network and manage the various aspects of communication, data exchange, and bringing together the various members of the scientific community. The secretariat manages records, meeting minutes, and membership, as well as public relations, and provides the scientific results of its research to international stakeholders and interested audiences. National Committees are situated around the world (in approximately 73 different countries) to assist with the activities of IGPB on a local or regional level. These committees assist in the coordination of studies in their area and provide a link between their area and the international community, as well as assisting with raising the necessary financial support for the research. The IGBP has received steady funding for project activities through contributions from approximately 35 countries of about $1.5 million per year since 2000.
sEE ALso: International Council of Scientific Unions; Nongovernmental Organizations (NGOs); Sweden.
BIBLIoGRAPHY. Center for International Earth Science Information Network (CIESIN), www.ciesin.org (cited January 2008); International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), www.igbp.kva.se (cited October 2007).
LYN MiCHAUD Independent Scholar
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