PORTLAND, Ore. December 10, 2007. The October
announcement that several PNW Research Station scientists shared
in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize, came as a surprise to many employees.
Even to the winners.
Ralph Alig, Ron Neilson, and David L. Peterson,
co-recipients of the Prize with former Vice-President Al Gore,
were recognized for
their work on the climate change synthesis report as members of
the United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change
(IPPCC). The panel was honored for its efforts to build up and
disseminate greater knowledge about human-made climate change,
and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to
counteract such change.
Alig, along with Neilson, contributed to
the 1998 Special Report on Regional Impacts. “My contributions
centered on the team’s
development of a large-scale model to examine opportunities in
forestry and agriculture to sequester greenhouse gases,” explains
Alig, team leader for Land Use and Land Cover Dynamics. “We
continue to enhance the model [and to] examine adaptation and mitigation
An e-mail was sent around the office,” recalls Neilson about
how he learned of the announcement, “but at first, I didn’t
put two and two together. It’s still a bit of a shock. It’s
still sinking in.” The Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil-System
Model developed by Neilson and his team was part of the report
on regional impacts of climate change. The model helps predict
vegetation distribution, growth, and disturbance dynamics under
current and future climatic conditions.
Peterson says he heard
the announcement about the Nobel Prize while driving in the Colorado
Rockies after attending a climate change
meeting. Peterson, team leader for Fire and Environmental Research
Applications, contributed research findings on understanding the
effects of climate on fire and other ecosystem disturbances. “It’s
great that the scientific community can work together across disciplines
and borders to address the issue of climate change,” says
Peterson who is a member of the 1995 Second Assessment Report,
Working Group II. “It seems appropriate; shows what the international
scientific community can do when focused on a critical issue that
affects everyone on the planet.”
The IPCC was founded in 1988
in Geneva, Switzerland. The IPCC reports are written by teams of
authors from all over the world who are
recognized experts in their fields.
The panel was created in response
to a growing concern about the risk of anthropogenic climate
change. The General Assembly of the
United Nations asked the two UN bodies most engaged in the issue,
the World Meteorological Organization and the United Nations Environment
Programme, to set up the panel to provide balanced, objective information
to policymakers. About 11 Forest Service scientists contributed
to the IPCC report, according to Al Solomon, the Forest Service’s
National Program Leader for Global Change Research.
To read the
entire IPCC report, visit www.ipcc.ch/. Al Gore received the
prize today during ceremonies in Oslo, Norway. The ceremony
will be streamed on the Nobel Prize Web site www.nobelprize.org.
The Pacific Northwest Research Station is headquartered in Portland,
Oregon. It has 11 laboratories located in Alaska, Oregon, and
Washington and about 500 employees.