UD profs members of Nobel Peace Prize-winning panel
Frederick E. Nelson (left), professor of geography and director of the University’s Permafrost Group, and research associates Dmitriy Streletskiy (center) and Nikolay Shiklomanov study an atlas for permafrost zones.
3:53 p.m., Oct. 19, 2007--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, 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.

IPCC, a science body advising the United Nations on the dangers of global warming, was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) in recognition of the problem of potential global climate change.

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lecture series

Free public lectures highlighting the research and careers of the newly minted 2007 Nobel Laureates will be presented on Oct. 17 and Oct. 24, from noon to 2 p.m., at UD's Trabant University Center Theatre. The talks, sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences, will be presented by UD faculty.

The first set of short lectures, on Wed., Oct. 17, focuses on the Nobel winners in the natural sciences and their areas of scholarship--including knockout mice, giant magnetoresistance, and surface chemistry. Presentations on the Nobel winners in literature, peace, and economics are slated for Wed., Oct. 24.

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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. The panel bases its assessment mainly on peer-reviewed and published scientific and technical literature.

“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,” said Byrne, who also is a distinguished professor in the School of Urban Affairs and Public Policy. “The greater impact is likely to be on policy makers at all levels and in all countries who should recognize the urgent need for action to restore peace to the life web.”

Byrne said the UD 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 received an honors bachelor of science degree in geography from Northern Michigan University in 1973, and went on to earn master's and doctoral degrees in geography from Michigan State and the University of Michigan, respectively. He served as assistant through full professor of geography at Rutgers University from 1986 through 1993, and has held positions as Visiting Professor of Geology and Physical Geography at the University of Michigan and Cornell University.

Nelson was named Honorary Fellow in the Department of Geography at the University of Wisconsin-Madison for 1990-91, and served as Professor of Geography and Geological Sciences at SUNY-Albany from 1994 to 1997. Nelson, who was recently designated “Distinguished Alumnus” by his alma mater, Northern Michigan University, the highest honor bestowed by the University, has been professor of geography at UD since fall 1997.

Nelson has published seven monographs and edited volumes and more than 110 peer-reviewed papers in scientific journals. During 2002-04 he cochaired 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 (CALM) 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.

John Byrne, Distinguished Professor of Public Policy and director of UD's Center for Energy and Environmental Policy

In addition to his work with IPCC, Byrne is coexecutive director of the Joint Institute for a Sustainable Energy and Environmental Future, cofounder 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. He was instrumental in obtaining United Nations observer status for CEEP related to the Framework Convention on Climate Change.

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 Energy and Environmental Policy book series. His most recent books are Energy Revolution and Environmental Justice.

Article by Martin Mbugua
Photos by Kathy F. Atkinson