OSA and AGU Leaders to Discuss Global Climate Change on 1 December 2020

On the first day of the AGU Fall Meeting, OSA and AGU will jointly present a three-part session titled “Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring Technologies: Current Capabilities and Future Needs.” Moderated by Tom Baer, 2009 OSA President, the program will look at the current state of regional measurement and monitoring priorities in three areas: Arctic; Urban Air; and Freshwater and Coastal Ecology. The session will provide an overview of how these measurements feed into climate models and the need for improved measurement capabilities for progress.

Nobel Laureate and 2013 OSA President Donna Strickland will be a special guest speaker during the session. The event is organized under the auspices of the Global Environmental Monitoring and Measurement (GEMM) Initiative.

The Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring (GEMM) is jointly sponsored by The Optical Society and American Geophysical Union (AGU). The program engages universities, research centers, measurement standards agencies, companies, and other scientific societies around the world to form GEMM regional centers and provide a critical focal point for researchers, technology developers, and policymakers. These multidisciplinary centers of excellence are focused on developing and sharing new measurement technologies and improved climate models. New regional data is integrated with data collected from existing environmental and climate networks to improve climate models and the accuracy of specific regional climate change forecasts. With the support of their regional, subnational, and national governments, these centers are addressing information gaps to enable more effective government and commercial industry decision-making.

OSA Fellow, Allister Ferguson of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, UK, is at the forefront of the GEMM initiative. The University of Strathclyde is where one of the first GEMM centers has been established and is deploying a network of 25 sensors to gather real-time information on emissions of CO2 and various gases. More centers are being planned for the future. Ferguson is taking an interdisciplinary approach by examining where more GEMM centers could be identified and creating a center for doctoral training and master’s program at U. Strathclyde.
Ferguson stated in a September 2020 video, “What’s important to me is showing that science, basic science, is important in tackling this; but also in recognizing that other approaches, other disciplines, are absolutely crucial in making a difference ... It’s getting the political and social will to take on the challenge and recognizing that we are doing something not for the current generation, but for future generations.”
In a recent article in “Optics & Photonics News” Ferguson explained, “It’s not just about photonics and making the most sophisticated measurements — because that’s not going to be any good unless there are people in the field that can make these measurements, other people who can interpret them, and still others who can then take those measurements into policymaking. So it’s a whole spectrum; that’s what we’re interested in. And we’re finding that people are very open to these kinds of cross-disciplinary collaborations.”

Strickland and Baer serve on the International Photonics Advocacy Coalition (IPAC) Steering Committee. Founded in 2017, IPAC brings together experts from industry, academia, and government to: educate policymakers and influencers about photonics technologies; collaborate and coordinate among industry, government, and academia to advance knowledge of photonics technologies; and advocate for funding for optics and photonics initiatives. The Global Environmental Measurement and Monitoring (GEMM) initiative is IPAC’s primary focus.

This year, the AGU will host one of the world’s largest virtual scientific conferences from 1-17 December 2020. The event schedule includes over one thousand hours of content that can be viewed in real-time and on-demand. OSA Members receive the AGU Member registration discount.

Registration and programming information is available online

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