The fifth meeting of COMSATS’ International Thematic Research Group (ITRG) on ‘Climate Change and Environmental Protection’ was held on 28th September 2016, in Beijing, China, in conjunction with the 15th CTWF International Symposium on Atmospheric Aerosol (19-24 September 2016) and the International Lecture Courses on Atmospheric Aerosols (25-27 September 2016). The meeting was hosted by the International Center for Climate and Environment Sciences (ICCES), China, and chaired by its Director, Prof. Zhaohui Lin, who is the designated Group Leader.
The objective of the meeting was to review the progress of the group with regard to execution of the joint research project, entitled ‘Characteristics and Mechanism of the Extreme Climate Events under the Climate Change Background’. This year’s meeting was attended by the existing group members belonging to China, Pakistan, Iran and Thailand. Moreover, a number of other scientists belonging to Pakistan, Brazil, Thailand, Nigeria, Iran, Jamaica, Ghana, Egypt and Sri Lanka, participated in the meeting with a view to contribute to the joint research project. In all, 21 scientists represented 18 organizations during the meeting.
In his opening remarks, Prof. Lin extended warm welcome to the participants and informed that ICCES has a long history with COMSATS, being one of the founding member of COMSATS’ Network of Centres of Excellence. Prof. Lin expressed pleasure on leading the ITRG on ‘Climate Change and Environmental Protection’, which is working in one of the most significant areas for the developing counties. Mr. Farhan Ansari, Sr. Assistant Director (Programmes), COMSATS, felicitated ICCES for consistently hosting the deliberations of the Group by holding its meetings during the last few years, as well as the Center’s active participation in COMSATS’ programme. Highlighting the severe impacts of climate change and global warming on environment, and related threats to human survival, he recalled that the group is executing a joint research project with participation of relevant institutions belonging to various developing countries, aimed at enhancing capabilities to timely predict the extreme weather events and work-out necessary measures for their mitigation at national, regional and international levels.
Subsequently, Mr. Ansari made a multimedia presentation, in which he highlighted the history, mission, mandate, structure and technical activities of COMSATS. He acquainted the participants with the objectives and implementation mechanism of the ITRG programme, as well as recalled the key outcomes of the previous meetings of the group. He stated that the objective of this meeting is to discuss the progress made by the ITRG members, as well as to determine the future course of action. He encouraged the members of the group to publish joint research papers based on their collaboration under this programme, with due acknowledgement of COMSATS.
In his presentation, Prof. Lin overviewed the outcomes of the previous meetings of the group, and recalled that the overall goals of the research project being undertaken by the group are: collecting meteorological datasets from participating developing countries for climate change studies, revealing the characteristics of extreme weather and climate events, understanding the linkage between extreme climate events of different regions in the world for understanding the mechanisms responsible for these events, and providing training opportunities to participating scientists to enhance their research capabilities. Highlighting the significance and impacts of atmospheric aerosol, Prof. Lin suggested inclusion of this component in the overall research project of the group.
During the technical session, the participants of the meeting presented their country-specific meteorological data, on-going projects, and research expertise and interest. It was informed that a joint paper on studying floods and droughts using GIS is being prepared by two ITRG members, Dr. Shahina Tariq (Pakistan) and Dr. Chandima Gomes (Malaysia), in which the support provided by COMSATS is being duly acknowledged.
The group reviewed its progress and identified the following six topics for its future activities: (i) Land use, aerosol and climate change, (ii) Climate change adaptation and sustainability, (iii) Monitoring and comparison of aerosol, (iv) Monitoring and comparison of extreme events, (v) Urbanization and environmental impact, and (vi) Simulations and prediction of aerosol and their validation. The group also designated respective coordinators for the afore-mentioned topics/sub-groups.
The meeting also finalized Work Plan and time-line for the activities of the afore-mentioned sub-groups/topics for the period 2016-2017. It was decided that the members will share the information/experiences related to these topics/areas by the end of October 2016, which includes the following: (i) data (type, period, frequency, site information, location map, version, data policy, etc.); (ii) related research information, (iii) models, and (iv) available observation equipment. Subsequently, the group will draft proposals and conduct pre-meeting assessments (by the end of December 2016) through e-mail communications and web-conferencing. The group will also organize trainings/workshops as well as facilitate expert-exchange through short-term visits and doctoral scholarships. The group members also agreed to publish joint research papers based on their collaborative research findings, acknowledging the support provided by COMSATS Headquarters.
The meeting concluded with the strong commitment of ITRG members to dedicatedly contribute towards the joint research project and submit timely progress reports.