CORVALLIS, Ore. – A national leader in analyzing the impacts of climate change will direct a new legislatively established institute in Oregon that is designed to facilitate research on issues related to global climate change.
Philip W. Mote, the Washington state climatologist, will direct the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute and become a professor in the College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences at Oregon State University, where the institute will be located. He will begin his new duties on a part-time basis in the spring, transitioning to full-time in the summer of 2009.
This Oregon University System research institute was established in 2007 to help the state better plan for and respond to climate change. In addition to facilitating research and providing climate change information to Oregon decision-makers, OCCRI will support the state’s new Oregon Global Warming Commission, created last year by Oregon Gov. Ted Kulongoski.
"I am pleased that Phil Mote has agreed to be the first director of the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute,” Kulongoski said. “This institute will be critical to advancing Oregon’s position as a leader in climate change research and policy development, and Phil’s world class background in this area will help ensure Oregon continues to be a leading resource on climate science nationally and around the globe."
Mote is a leading scientist on the impacts of climate change, including variations in Pacific Northwest and national snowpacks, sea levels, water resources, precipitation and temperatures. He was a lead author for the fourth assessment report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which received a Nobel Prize for its efforts.
Washington’s state climatologist since 2003, Mote also is a research scientist with the Climate Impacts Group at the University of Washington, where he has worked since 1998, and is an affiliate professor in the Department of Atmospheric Sciences. He has a Ph.D. in atmospheric sciences from the UW and received his undergraduate degree in physics from Harvard University.
“I am really excited to lead this new institute, building partnerships both among researchers across the Oregon University System and between researchers and people who need to understand what climate means for them – whether in state government, the private sector, or whatever,” Mote said.
“The level of enthusiasm among researchers and many other Oregonians for this new institute is part of what made this job so appealing,” Mote added.
Mark Abbott, dean of OSU’s College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences, said Mote’s leadership experience and extensive collaborative research will position the new center to become a critical asset for the state. Broadening scientific understanding will lead not only to better policy, Abbott added, but it will help Oregon make wise investments for the future.
“Because our society has become so technologically dependent, in many ways we have become increasingly fragile,” said Abbott, who is a member of the National Science Board. “When we are confronted by extreme phenomena – whether it is a Hurricane Katrina, a severe drought, or even a sudden snowstorm in Portland – things tend to grind to a halt.
“Gaining more scientific understanding of these processes is critical, whether they are natural, caused by humans or a combination of both,” Abbott added. “That understanding will allow us to target our resources more strategically – on a broad scale when considering things like water availability, or down to the local level of determining whether to buy additional snowplows.”
George Pernsteiner, chancellor of the Oregon University System, said Mote will help coordinate climate change research and outreach among faculty from a variety of fields through Oregon’s public institutions and develop new research partnerships to help the state and the private sector meet the challenges and opportunities of climate change.
Before joining the University of Washington staff full-time in 1998, Mote was a research scientist at NorthWest Research Associates in Bellevue, Wash., and spent two years in Scotland as a research fellow at the University of Edinburgh. He also taught for two years at Monte Vista Christian High School in Watsonville, Calif.