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A new integrated approach to climate change research


The first scientific conference of the international iLEAPS-IGBP research programme (Integrated Land Ecosystem Atmosphere Processes Study) was recently held in Colorado, USA. At this multi- and cross-disciplinary conference, leading researchers in the field were discussing the interactivity between Earth and the atmosphere and climate change connected with it. The main aim was to clarify how vegetation, as well as aerosol particles and the composition of the atmosphere, relate to climate change.

The results presented in Colorado indicate that the interrelation between climate change and atmospheric chemistry and the ecosystem is very complex, not forgetting the direct and indirect impact of human activity. The future challenge in the field is to better understand the cause and effect relationship between normal natural phenomena and climate change to determine the role mankind plays in the scenario.

Six international, interdisciplinary research projects are being run under the auspices of iLEAPS. The objects of research are key regions from the point of view of how the world works, climate change and global changes, such as the Arctic and Boreal region, the Amazon rain forest and the monsoon areas of West Africa and Asia. These projects are approaching climate change and global change in a new way, concentrating on feedback data and distant effect. There are plans to launch a new project, headed by Professor Markku Kulmala, studying the global formation of aerosol particles, the Finnish participants being the University of Helsinki, Finnish Meteorological Institute and the University of Kuopio.

The large meetings connected to the iLEAPS series of conferences and aiming at creating a synthesis of interdisciplinary study approaches are organised every second year, the next being held in Italy in 2008. The meetings are organised by the iLEAPS Project Office located at the University of Helsinki, in co-operation with local research institutes. iLEAPS belongs to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), and its goal is also to promote the international funding of interdisciplinary research and to facilitate worldwide networking between researchers.

Coordinating the iLEAPS Project from Finland means that Finland can play a globally significant role in steering research in this field. The project gives research groups here the chance to emphasise the targets of research which are of greatest importance to Finland. These include the significance of Arctic regions, the Boreal forest belt and the forests as absorbers of carbon and as sources of aerosol particles, both in research and in international environmental policy.

Minna Meriläinen | alfa
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