Message from ESIG Director Robert Harriss

Robert Harriss and Sport ESIG's most important accomplishment in FY01 was the recruitment of Dr. Heidi Cullen, Dr. Rebecca Morss, and Mr. Jeremy Hackney as new members of our scientific staff. Their research interests and skills significantly enhance ESIG's research program on the societal impacts of weather and climate. These individuals are interdisciplinary researchers whose training and experience bridge physical and social dimensions of impact assessment research. They will significantly strengthen ESIG collaboration with scientists within and external to UCAR and NCAR.

In FY01, several major research and synthesis projects were also completed and published. First, an international assessment of lessons learned from the 1997-98 El Niño event was published by the United Nations University Press. This study provides a unique systematic evaluation of how 16 developing nations were impacted by and responded to the 1997-98 El Niño. ESIG provided the organizational skills and intellectual leadership that enabled in-country multidisciplinary research teams to conduct a comparative assessment of reactions and responses of national governments and institutions, international organizations, public media, and the general public to the climate consequences of this very strong El Niño event. This remarkable synthesis provides crucial information for developing regional and national disaster preparedness plans for coping with future El Niño events. ESIG scientists also contributed significantly to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and to the US National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change. These two assessments are the primary link between science and policy formulation at both national and international scales. Finally, the accomplishments described in this report document another year of active publishing in the scientific literature and community service through leadership in organizing and reporting on multidisciplinary workshops.

The Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (ESIG) will significantly increase its focus and level of effort on evaluating the societal consequences of weather, climate variability, and change for regional and socioeconomic systems in coming years. This ESIG FY01 Annual Scientific Report reflects first steps in the reorganization and rethinking of the ESIG research program. The evolution of a new strategic vision for ESIG in FY02 will be guided by recommendations from the recent NSF Review and by continuing reviews and consultation with external experts in the weather and climate impacts community. The theme for ESIG's strategic thinking process will be "Forging a New Framework for Regional Weather and Climate Impact Assessment."

– Robert Harriss

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