India boosts climate data contribution to IPCC

The network will assess the impact of climate change on areas such as agriculture Copyright: Flickr/World Bank Photo Collection

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[NEW DELHI] A scientific network set up recently by India’s environment ministry will contribute formally to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the country’s prime minister has announced.

It is the first time that Indian scientists will be involved at an institutional level with the IPCC, whose job is to assess the information relevant to understanding the risks of climate change. Its scientists have hitherto made individual contributions.

The Indian Network for Climate Change Assessment (INCCA), formed last year (October 2009), will provide its first research findings to the IPCC by November 2010, prime minister Manmohan Singh told a sustainable development summit in New Delhi today (5 February). Its findings will form part of the panel’s fifth assessment report, due to be finalised in 2014.

INCCA comprises more than 200 scientists drawn from 120 institutions across the country and will focus on the ‘three Ms’ — measuring, modelling and monitoring — to make comprehensive assessments of climate change’s impact on key sectors such as agriculture, water, biodiversity, natural ecosystems and health, environment minister Jairam Ramesh said yesterday (4 February).

A group within INCCA, made up of scientists from the environment ministry, the Indian Institute of Tropical Meteorology and the Indian space department will provide "institutional inputs" to future IPCC reports, Ramesh said.

The announcements come amid international debate over an IPCC claim about the melting rate of the Himalayan glaciers (see Glacier dispute reveals holes in research) and suggestions that scientists from the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom, were selective about which of their climate research results they publicised.

But Singh emphasised that, despite some criticism of the IPCC’s reports, "India has full confidence in the IPCC process and its leadership and will support it in every way that it can".

Ramesh said that the Indian initiative "will help fill an important scientific knowledge gap in the IPCC assessment by providing robust information at the sub-regional level". 

INCCA is one of a series of measures by the Ministry of Environment and Forests to strengthen India’s scientific base.

Others include the Global Advisory Network Group on Environmental Sciences (GANGES) that will focus on creating a research agenda and promoting collaboration in the field; a national environmental sciences research programme; a scientific expert committee to the ministry; and an action plan to enhance forestry science.

Ramesh said that the intended scientific focus of the environment ministry has "got somewhat diluted" over the years and the initiatives will bring science "back into the mainstream of our work and decision-making".

The country is also setting up a national institute on Himalayan glaciology in Dehradun, northern India, said Ramesh.