Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel includes UD scientists

Two University professors are members of a working group within the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize jointly with former U.S. Vice President Al Gore.

Frederick “Fritz” Nelson, professor of geography and director of UD’s Permafrost Group, and John Byrne, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and director of UD’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy, have contributed to the panel’s reports.

IPCC, a scientific body advising the United Nations on the dangers of global warming, was established in 1988 in recognition of the problem of potential global climate change.

Nelson contributed a lengthy section on climate-change impacts on permafrost to the 2007 IPCC report in the panel’s Working Group I and Working Group II. Byrne is a contributing author to Working Group III, which made contributions to the fourth assessment report, produced special reports on aviation, emission scenarios, technology transfer, ozone and climate, carbon dioxide capture and storage, as well as the third assessment report.

“I have been stunned in a pleasant way with the news of the award of the Nobel Peace Prize for the IPCC,” Rajendra K. Pachauri, IPCC chairman, wrote in a letter to members of the panel. “This makes each of you a Nobel Laureate, and it is my privilege to acknowledge this honor on your behalf....The fact that the IPCC has earned the recognition that this award embodies is really a tribute to your knowledge, hard work and application.”

IPCC does not carry out research nor monitor climate related data, but it assesses the scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant to understanding the scientific basis of risk of human-induced climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation.

“Selecting the IPCC for the Nobel Peace Prize underscores the need for all of us in all of our communities to use the gift of thought to seek peace not only among ourselves but with the entire life web,” says Byrne, who is a faculty member in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy.

Byrne says UD’s Center for Energy and Environmental Policy will continue its research on climate justice, investigating economic and policy strategies to meet the needs of a sustainable and equitable future.

Nelson has been a professor of geography at UD since fall 1997. He received an honors bachelor of science degree in geography in 1973 from Northern Michigan University, which recently designated him a “Distinguished Alumnus,” the institution’s highest honor. He earned master’s and doctoral degrees in geography from Michigan State and the University of Michigan, respectively.

Nelson has published seven monographs and edited volumes and more than 110 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. During 2002-04 he co-chaired a task force on the impacts of climate change on permafrost and civil infrastructure for the U.S. Arctic Research Commission, a group of scientists, engineers and other leaders appointed by the U.S. president.

Since 2003, Nelson and UD research associate Nikolay Shiklomanov have directed the Circumpolar Active Layer Monitoring program, an international global-change monitoring program that oversees 168 permafrost observatories in both polar regions and selected mid-latitude mountain regions. Nelson has garnered more than $5 million to support his research, mostly from the National Science Foundation.

Byrne, in addition to his work with IPCC, is co-executive director of the Joint Institute for a Sustainable Energy and Environmental Future, co-founder of the International Solar Cities Initiative, policy adviser to the Environmental Forum of the Korea National Assembly and a member of the board of directors of the Urban Environmental Center.

Byrne received his bachelor’s degree in economics and his master’s and doctoral degrees in urban affairs and public policy from UD. He was named director of UD’s Energy Policy Research Group in 1981 and was appointed an assistant professor in urban affairs and public policy in 1982. He has received UD’s Excellence in Teaching Award.

Byrne also created UD’s graduate program in energy and environmental policy—the first such doctoral degree offered in the U.S. He was a Fulbright senior lecturer/researcher in 1995, jointly affiliated with Seoul National University and the Korea Energy Economics Institute.

Byrne has published extensively in his field and is coeditor of the Bulletin of Science, Technology and Society and general editor of the Energy and Environmental Policy book series. His most recent books are Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.