DOE Sets Up Institute to Study Climate Change

New joint research institute with the University of Maryland to study the cheapest ways to curb carbon dioxide emissions and other economic impacts of global warming.

Published: 13-Mar-2001

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The U.S. Energy Department on Monday said it would create a joint research institute with the University of Maryland to study the cheapest ways to curb carbon dioxide emissions and other economic impacts of global warming.

The DOE's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) and the University of Maryland will investigate the interaction between climate change, energy production, economic effects and regional impact at the new Joint Global Change Research Institute.

"We are working on understanding the most cost-effective way to reduce carbon dioxide emission," said Gerald Stokes, director of the new institute.

"We are looking at understanding what it would take to stabilize carbon dioxide emissions -- what the energy mix looks like, what the profile looks like and what the costs look like," said Stokes, the former associate laboratory director at PNNL, a DOE research and development laboratory.

Carbon dioxide, a heat-trapping gas that is thought to contribute to the global warming trend, is usually produced by the burning of fossil fuels. President George W. Bush has been under pressure from lawmakers and environmental activists to cap the emission of carbon dioxide in power plants which is produced as a byproduct of coal combustion.

Stokes said the issue would be looked at globally to solve what is an international problem.

The new institute brings together climate change researchers from the University of Maryland and the DOE laboratory.

"By combining the capabilities of our two institutions, we expect to have a powerful impact on the study of global climate change," said Lura Powell, director of PNNL.

The experts will also study the vulnerabilities of specific regions to future climate change.

For example, researchers are studying the effects of warming on snow pack irrigation in the western United States.

"The warming predictions suggest that the amount of snow pack will be decreased and make less water available for irrigation," Stokes said.

The institute, located in College Park, Md., will also look into technology strategies to limit the scope of climate change.

The new institute will work in collaboration with other institutes at the university, such as the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center, a campus-based collaboration between the university and NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.

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