Prize-winning research

In 2014, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) presents its Fifth Assessment Report. The Bjerknes Centre is heavily involved with the report.

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On the walls of Eystein Jansen’s cramped office, partly hidden behind a door, hangs a prize. It is a copy of the Nobel Peace Prize that the IPCC and Al Gore shared in 2007 for «their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change».

Jansen received his copy of the prize based on his role as a co-ordinating lead author in the IPCC’s Fourth Assessment Report from 2007. The Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research provided the coordinating lead author, lead author, and several contributing authors.

Read more about the work at the Bjerknes Centre, which celebrates its ten-year anniversary in 2012.

Comprehensive work

The centre is once again heavily involved with the next report, which is to be presented in 2013 and 2014, with four lead authors and several contributing authors, mostly in Working Group 1 which deals with the natural science basis for climate change.

Jansen himself is in the midst of work on the next report. The responsibility of the lead authors of IPCC reports is to assess available information about climate change drawn mainly from the peer-reviewed and published scientific and technical literature.

After a number of meetings and surveys, the first draft has now been out for expert review. An IPCC report is comprehensive work.

– We have had 2,000 comments so far in my chapter. This is as many as in the whole process the last time around. All comments must receive a written reply. I doubt that you will find a more thorough research work than this, says Jansen.

The report will go through several drafts and reviews before a final plenary session of the IPCC between government representatives and the authors, for Working Group 1 in 2013 and the rest in 2014. Researchers and representatives of the UN’s member states will review the final summary report line by line.

– Certain myths do exist about researchers taking dictation from politicians, but people who think so don’t have a clue about how researchers view the world. There may be some political tug of war involved in the process, but we have the final say, Jansen points out.

Change comes quickly

Jansen believes that the fifth IPCC report will stress the gravity of the climate situation to an even greater extent than previous reports.

– We are in an altogether extraordinary situation as far as climate change is concerned, where changes take place more rapidly than nature is accustomed to on the global level.

Although there is every indication that addressing climate change is urgent, one doesn’t always get the impression that the powers that be implement the required measures. Jansen does not however lose heart.

– My motivation is to figure things out. That is my driving force. Research results that are of importance for the whole planet must be presented in public. And even if the message from climate researchers has been known for years, we need to keep repeating this urgent message, Jansen makes clear.

This article was first printed in UiB's research and education magazine Hubro international 2012/2013. Translated from the Norwegian by Sverre Ole Drønen.