From the Director

Welcome to the Center for Global Change Science. We undertake large interdisciplinary initiatives to solve complex scientific problems that impede our ability to predict and respond to changes in our natural and managed environments. Here you will find an exciting interactive group of researchers from throughout the Institute, and also from elsewhere through our partnerships around the world. I am proud to direct this group, which represents the collective vision of MIT—united to tackle difficult and challenging scientific issues such as global climate change, air and water pollution, severe storms, destruction of the ozone layer, sustenance of ocean and land ecosystems, and sea level rise. 

At the Center for Global Change Science, we combine theory with observations, and computer models to better understand and predict environmental changes especially over the next century. Specifically, we focus on research areas that are fundamental to global change such as: the chemistry and circulation of the atmosphere; the origin, dispersal and destruction of greenhouse gases and aerosols; convection, atmospheric water vapor and cloud formation; land surface hydrology and the coupling of hydrology with vegetation; ocean circulation and its coupling to ocean ecosystems; and processes that couple the ocean, land, biosphere and atmosphere.

These broad research topics are addressed in significant part through three large programs associated with the Center. I am proud to co-direct the Joint Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change, founded in 1991, which weaves together the natural and social sciences to explore the interplay among our environment, society and economy in relation to many facets of global change. At the heart of the program is a unique Integrated Global System Model (IGSM) that I and many others have worked to develop. The model couples economics, climate physics and chemistry, and land and ocean ecosystems to illuminate and estimate uncertainty in environmental predictions, and to analyze proposed mitigating technologies and policies.

I also have the pleasure of leading the Advanced Global Atmospheric Gases Experiment (AGAGE) founded in 1978. This program measures on site the rates of change around the world of the concentrations of over 50 trace gases involved in the greenhouse effect and ozone depletion. Along with these observations, we have pioneered the use of inverse methods, which use such measurements and state-of-the-art three-dimensional models to determine trace gas emissions and sinks and to understand atmospheric chemical processes, especially those processes involving the oxidation (or self-cleansing) capacity of the atmosphere.

The Center also houses the Climate Modeling Initiative, directed by Professor John Marshall. The Initiative has developed world-class coupled ocean and atmosphere models that are widely used to analyze existing global physical, chemical and biological observations, and to stimulate key new ones in order to generate better scientific understanding and models that incorporate that new knowledge.

Along with providing our vision and research goals and programs, this website is intended to communicate our results through a series of publications. It also serves as an education and outreach portal to improve public understanding of global environmental challenges. 

Please visit us here often to learn about our latest news and events, as we work to inform the debates about global change in natural and human systems and the technology and policy challenges those changes generate.

Best Regards,

Ronald Prinn
Director, Center for Global Change Science
TEPCO Professor of Atmospheric Science

Learn more about Professor Prinn.