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Milutin Milankovitch Anniversary Symposium

After the symposia organized by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts to mark the 125th anniversary of the birth of Milutin Milankovitch in 2004, and the 130th anniversary in 2009, both supported by UNESCO, a follow-up symposium will be held in 2014 to commemorate the 135th anniversary. It will include the following sessions: one addressing climate change inferences from studies of paleoclimate, the legacy of Milutin Milankovitch (1879-1958), and the other focusing on regional climate change aspects, in particular to those of South-Eastern Europe, the venue of the Symposium, and on the fundamental issues of regional climate modeling. Serbian scientists have achieved results of international acclaim in the latter two topics, so that exposure of young scientists from the region to their work in progress, facilitated by the symposium, should advance these important branches of climate science both in the region of the symposium as well as at large.


Several points of the recently released Summary for Policymakers (SMP) of the Intergovernmental Panel’s for Climate Change (IPCC) Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), have caused widespread media attention. Yet, in many instances implications for the future derived from paleoclimate data and studies are known with insufficient confidence, in spite of the critical nature of the issues at hand. At the forefront are the lessons to be learned from improved understanding and knowledge of the conditions during the previous interglacial periods, such as the Eemian peaking near 125 kilo years ago, and the one before that, the Holsteinian, 400 kilo years ago. The support of the European Union and others for policies aimed at keeping global warming at less than 2°C relative to preindustrial times, is based on expectations that humanity can adjust reasonably well to this amount of warming. Still, it is known with high confidence that sea levels during the Eemian were 4-6 m higher, or maybe more, than today. However, ice core and ocean core data do not seem to agree how much warmer this and the preceding interglacial period were compared to today. They both appear to have been less than 1°C warmer than today according to ocean core data. Nowadays, feedback processes in place are also studied using numerical Earth climate system models. Clearly, increased knowledge of and confidence in implications involved with a given level of global warming are critically important. This refers not only on changes in sea level, but also on changes in the oceanic and atmospheric circulation, hydrological cycle, biosphere, and plant and animal life that we know and are used to.

While a global measure of warming, such as the near-surface average temperature increase of 2°C, is essential, what should be expected in a given region is, of course, what matters to the people of that region. Projections of changes in the amounts of precipitation, precipitation distribution over the year, severity and duration of droughts, frequency of intense storms, and temperature and wind conditions for a region of choice are obtained by running regional coupled climate models driven by lateral boundary conditions derived from global climate models. It is this information that is critical for water management and land use planning purposes. As reviewed in Chapter 9 of the Final Draft of IPPC Working Group I , available on the IPCC web site, there are numerous science issues that need to be addressed to improve the performance of and confidence in results of numerical regional climate models (RCMs). Modelers active in Serbia have achieved pioneering results in some of these areas, so that exposure of a wider scientific audience to these achievements and discussion of related research in progress at the conference will be beneficial to young scientists and RCM users. Among the issues to be addressed are those related to mathematically consistent prescription of lateral boundary conditions of RCMs, and to the choice of RCM domains so that added value can presumably be obtained on RCM-simulated large scales. Large scales in turn drive smaller scales, thus positively impacting the results of interest to users. Still, beyond the technical aspects of RCM modeling, presentation of the latest RCM results pertinent to the region in which the conference will be held, needs to be timely given the fast pace of the research in the area and the need of users for climate change information, to be exposed to the variety of specific projections of climate to be expected.

The two preceding Milutin Milankovitch anniversary symposia, in 2004 and 2009, both supported by UNESCO, have been widely recognized successes, and have both led not only to productive science exchanges at the symposia, but also to acclaimed books of proceedings. The first was published by the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts, and the second by the major international science publisher Springer-Verlag. The editors of the latter, André Berger, Fedor Mesinger, and Djordje Šijački, have been informed by the publisher that the book was among the top 25% of electronically bought chapter downloads of the year. It is believed that a sequel-symposium, 5 years after the previous one, this time just as on the previous two occasions with a somewhat different and new emphasis, is timely.



Past Climate: A Lesson for the Future
  1. Interglacials of the past one million years
  2. Pliocene and Interglacials: lessons for the future
  3. Paleo-data and modeling issues
  4. Earth’s climate sensitivity
  5. Feedbacks as deduced from paleo-data

Regional Climate Change Aspects

  1. Regional climate modeling (RCM) issues
  2. Mediterranean and SE Europe climate change
  3. Added value via RCM use
  4. Domain size and lateral boundary conditions
  5. Verification: how well are we doing?
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