Hopes and Expectations for the Coming Year, 1998 |
On October 1,1997, the Frontier Research System for Global Change was
started. At the same time, EL Nino struck with the greatest force ever
in this century, and many abnormal meteorological events have been reported
from various parts of the world, including dry weather in Indonesia and
Australia and much rain in South America. At the beginning of December,
1997, the Kyoto Protocol which was the memorable first step taken toward
the problem of Global Warming, was agreed upon despite a rough going. However,
the Protocol adopted the "net" method of counting the absorption
of the amount of carbon dioxide by forests. That is to say, the most ambiguous
part in scientific calculations became the key to the settlement of environmental
problems discussed at the Kyoto conference. So we, the scientists concerned,
are not satisfied with this result.
The Frontier Research System for Global Change was established aiming
at predicting natural variations and anthropogenic change of the global
environment. The report " Toward the Realization of Global Change
Prediction (July 1996)", by the Subcommittee on Earth Science and
Technology, Council for Aeronauties, Electronics and Other Advanced Technologies,
Science and Technology Agency, was a basis for our activities. In this
report, with the rapid expanding of recent Japanese earth observations
and the most advanced high speed computers of the world, providing the
background, the following researches were proposed:
1) Observations of the global scale, 2) Computer modeling of the whole
earth environment, 3) Basic researches of individual process, consisting
of these researches as three main targets, and each result being feed-backed
to one another, and finally aiming at realizing the prediction of earth
variation. Among them, the Frontier planned to bear the burden of the individual
process research, which has become a joint project of NASDA and JAMSTEC.
The Global Variations Research needs, as a matter of fact, cooperation
of researchers from all over the world. The World Climate Research Program
(WCRP) and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) have
already been carried out, and Japanese researchers took part in these projects.
From the start of the Program, we have incorporated US cooperation in global
variations research into the Program, based on the US-Japan partnership.
We also plan to reach our target, by incorporation of the results of researches
at the centers abroad, i.e. the International Pacific Research Center (IPRC)
and the International Arctic Research Center (IARC) with that of the Institute
for Global Change Research (IGCR) in Tokyo. Both of the Centers abroad
were inaugurated in October, 1997. Almost at the same time, we were connected
with the International Research Institute on Climate Prediction (IRI),
which have been promoted by the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Agency
(NOAA) and was established recently.
At present, four research programs, i.e. on Climate Variations, Hydrological
Cycle, Global Warming and their Integrated Modeling (Next-generation Climate
Model Research,) have been made, each being supervised by a program director.
In addition, at the IPRC and the IARC, their own research programs have
been planned respectively, and placed under the control of each Center
Director. The Program Director of the Global Warming Research Program is
Dr. Shukuro Manabe, a visiting professor of Princeton Univ., who came back
to Japan from the U.S after about 40 year's absence, and is famous for
the global warming prediction research. He is also a pioneer and a top
runner in climate research by computer modeling. At the time of the acceptance
of applications for researchers last year, many excellent domestic and
overseas applicants were gathered, and we had the opportunity to employ
more talented individuals (including many from abroad) than we had previously
The Frontier has just started, and now we shall proceed with our full-scale
researches. At present, 44 full-time researchers and 39 with additional
posts have already been determined, and they have started their own activities
A feature of this Program is the working researchers system. That is to
say, each contract term is limited, and the contract would be revised according
to the progress of the research.
In addition, better salaries and benefits are offered to talented and hard
working researchers corresponding to the necessity of the project; regardless
of their ages and backgrounds.
They say that the whole of corporate Japan should transfer from the life-long
employment system and the seniority system into a flexible employment system
based on merit, making much of each personality, especially for the community
of the researchers. Still we think it would take much time to realize this
idea. As we try this new system with a step or two beforehand, we would
like to harmonize our system with the communities of surrounding universities
and research institutes, and taking advantage of the new system, we will
find a way in which the researchers could satisfy and exhibit fully their
In 1998, the Frontier Research System started with a great deal of activity.
The campaign of intensified observation of GAME (GEWEX-related Asian Monsoon
Experiment) will be made the in the summer monsoon season. The indispensable
satellite for that purpose, TRMM ( Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission),
which was successfully launched in November, 1997, has been sending the
world's first three-dimensional images obtained by the precipitation radar.
JAMSTEC will start to deploy TRITON buoys, which can always watch oceanic
and atmospheric variations in the tropical Pacific region. I hope in this
new year the Frontier Research System will take off with "its engine"
on full steam ahead toward its projected targets.