History of the IRI - Establishing An International Research Institute
This scientific development has since led to the call by many nations to have a coordinated multinational effort to produce and distribute experimental forecasts. As a result, the initiative to establish an International Research Institute for purposes of El Niño forecasting began in the late 1980s. In 1992, a concrete proposal for an international research institute and regional applications centers was presented among the programs and activities introduced by the U.S. during the United Nations Conference on Environmental and Development. During the conference, the U.S. invited government officials and scientists from all interested nations to join in developing an IRI.
There was a reiteration of the international obligation to this effort during the November 1995 International Forum on Forecasting El Niño: Launching An International Research Institute. Leading experts and high-level government officials were convened to address critical economic and public policy issues effected by year-to-year ENSO-related climate variability. The Forum resulted in the adoption of the Forum Statement, which further acknowledged the commitment by individual countries and organizations to actively work toward building an IRI.
Since that time, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's (NOAA) Seasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction Program (SCPP), under direction of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), has taken the lead in the development of the Institute. And as a result, the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory of Columbia University (LDEO), in partnership with the Scripps Institution of Oceanography of the University of California, was selected to prepare the provisional IRI that the U.S. will offer to the international community.) The proposed IRI is being designed to capitalize on the recent scientific achievements in forecasting climate variations associated with ENSO. As envisioned, the IRI will be a global network of research centers and applications activities linked by a central IRI facility. The facility will assemble and issue experimental forecasts at least once a year and disseminate them to those regions performing applications activities. The forecast information will then be tailored to the specific area, taking into account climate conditions, forecast needs and interests as indicated by local decision-makers and managers. From this point, statistics based on rainfall patterns will be used to create effective laws, policies, strategies, and incentives for adapting to these changes.
Scientists now recognize that technology available today can be a tool in combating the effects of various climate deviations. By making early warning forecasts available to those affected by drastic changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, these scientists are aiming to improve the relationship between humans and the natural environment. An International Research Institute represents the dedication of the scientific community to build upon and utilize the technology available to improve the quality of life for societies worldwide. By depending upon strong international collaboration and cooperation, many are hopeful that this global effort will achieve results no single nation could produce alone.