The Scientific Agenda of the IAI is defined in Article III of the Agreement establishing the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. Article III explicitly defines the agenda as an “evolving Scientific Agenda” with an appropriate balance among the biogeographical areas of scientific importance and also with an integration of scientific, economic and sociological research. Moreover, the focus of research is based on regional issues as determined by the IAI Conference of the Parties.
The Agreement listed 7 areas of initial research:
a) The study of tropical ecosystems and biogeochemical cycles;
b) The study of the impacts of climate change on biodiversity;
c) The study of El Niño Southern Oscillation and interannual climate variability;
d) The study of ocean/atmosphere/land interactions in the intertropical Americas;
e) Comparative studies of oceanic, coastal and estuarine processes in temperate zones;
f) Comparative studies of temperate terrestrial ecosystems; g) High latitude processes.
The Conference of the Parties, at its 5th meeting (CoP-5, Montevideo, Uruguay, 1998) adopted Decision V/6 which revised the Scientific Agenda by consolidating the initial 7 areas of research into 4 areas:
I Understanding climate variability in the Americas:
II. Comparative studies of ecosystems, biodiversity, land use and water resources in the Americas:
III. Changes in the composition of the atmosphere, oceans, and fresh waters:
IV. Integrated assessment, human dimensions and applications.
The Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC), at its 18th meeting (Mendoza, Argentina, 2003), confirmed the validity of the four areas of research of the Scientific Agenda but agreed on the need of reviewing and updating them. The SAC established two working groups of members to re-draft the paragraphs under each area of research. The recommended text, Document EC-XVII-CoP-X, was presented to the Conference of the Parties at its 10th meeting (Boulder, United States, 2003) for its consideration.
The advice of the SAC was adopted by CoP10 in Decision X/11 and is summarized below:
I. Understanding climate change and variability in the Americas
to observe, document and predict climate change and variability in the Americas and its links to changes in natural systems and societal impacts to understand the role of the ocean-land-atmosphere interactions in climate, to determine the key processes that cause climatic variability, from seasonal to decadal time scales in order to improve weather and climate predictions
II. Comparative studies of ecosystems, biodiversity, land use and cover, and water resources in the Americas
comparative and integrated analyses of the effects of global environmental change on natural and anthropogenic systems and processes among tropical, temperate and cold latitude systems. increase knowledge of the drivers and dynamics of variability, and the impacts of such variability on food security, biodiversity and the provision of ecological goods and services. terrestrial, coastal and oceanic environments; and integration across the land/sea interface
III. Understanding global change modulations of the composition of the atmosphere, oceans and fresh waters
to observe, document and understand the effects on productivity and human welfare processes that modify the chemical composition of the atmosphere, inland waters and oceans using a multidisciplinary approach
IV. Understanding the human dimensions and policy implications of global change, climate variability and land use
to research the dynamic interaction of global change, climate variability, land use and human beings – their health, welfare and activities which depend on the productivity, diversity, and functioning of ecosystems to address the complex interactions between natural and socio-economic systems through interdisciplinary approaches to inform public policies that increase the sustainability of natural systems and human welfare