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Greenhouse Gas Emissions Quantification and Verification Strategies Workshop
National Institute of Standards and Technology
Thank you and welcome.
The National Institute of Standards and Technology initiated this workshop to provide an opportunity for you, our customers and stakeholders, to lay out both the needs and the opportunities for accurate quantification of greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. This workshop is the second in a series of "NIST External Needs Assessment Workshops" intended to focus on problems that are important to you.
Scripps is a natural partner for NIST in the effort to quantify and verify GHG emissions because of their long commitment to monitoring and characterizing the Earth's climate.
So on behalf of both NIST and Scripps, we're glad you have come to our gathering, because we need your help. The whole planet does.
So far, we've been looking at the Earth's climate with somewhat blurry vision. But even with blurry vision, it's more than clear that we're in a bad place.
In December of last year, John Holdren, the President's Science Advisor, pointed out some of the effects we have already observed in his testimony before Congress's Select Committee on Energy and Global Warming:
Scientists have tried to determine long-term climate essentially by repurposing satellites and weather stations. But these are best at observing short-term changes. So it's a less than a perfect fit.
But for the first time in history, we are now attempting to create a generation of dedicated climate scientists and the greenhouse gas monitoring instruments necessary to this research. These instruments should allow scientists to figure out just where greenhouse gases are coming from, and the "sinks" where some of these gases are being absorbed.
We in this room are in an ideal position to define how accurately these new instruments should be monitoring greenhouse gas fluxes. So over the course of the next two days, I hope you will have a vigorous and frank discussion about the best ways of doing that.
Why does NIST and the rest of the planet need you to talk this over? Because one thing is certain even before we begin: What we monitor will have to be measured, and measured accurately over long time periods.
In short, we need standards: standards that are traceable to the International System of Units, the so-called SI which includes the meter and kilogram. We need recommendations about how best to make accurate measurements of greenhouse fluxes from sources and into sinks.
To get started we've included five breakout sessions in today's workshop, one each is dedicated to a major contributing factor in atmospheric GHG levels.
When you meet in your breakout sessions, a great number of questions need answering. A few of these:
Answering these questions by the end of the workshop is only the first step in the learning process. We will use the results to inform our strategic decision making in a report, tentatively titled the "Opportunities Document", to be prepared by the end of the summer. The NIST Visiting Committee on Advanced Technology will release the result, which we hope will inform planning activities at the technical level. Our aim is for it to become a vehicle for partnership building, communications, and acceleration of the most critical measurement solutions.
With this goal in mind, we look forward to your input.
1 U.S. Global Change Research Program's "Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States" (Thomas R. Karl, Jerry M. Melillo, and Thomas C. Peterson, eds., Cambridge University Press, 2009), and UN Environment Program's "Climate Change Science Compendium" C.P. McMullen and J. Jabbour, eds., UNEP, 2009).
2 Data from Charles Keeling's Curve
3 Bullet points drawn from testimony delivered by John P. Holdren, Director of OSTP, before the House Select Committee on Energy Independence and Global Warming on December 2, 2009. (This testimony also draws from reports in footnote 1.)