In November 2011, the former Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research commissioned the Climate Change Centre Austria (CCCA) to develop a science plan for climate research in Austria. This plan is meant to contribute to consolidating and focusing existing climate research by taking into account the principles and strategies of Austrian research policies as well as the definition of prioritised fields of research. One of the project aims was to develop the science plan along with and suited to a CCCA strategy for education and further training in climate research. Besides financial support from the Federal Ministry of Science and Research, the project was also made possible by extensive efforts of and contributions by the CCCA community.
The science plan working group headed by Georg Kaser (UIBK) and the working group for the promotion of young scientists headed by Reinhard Mechler (IIASA/WU) were established to implement the project.
The time between February 2012 and May 2013 saw a process of extensive involvement of Austrian climatologists. Common objectives, research areas, and process steps for a science plan were developed based on intensive discussions and coordination processes in the context of working group meetings.
On 25 and 26 March 2013, a CCCA strategy workshop was held. In its preparation, an overview of given subject matter expertise in Austrian climate research (existing focal points and competences) and of stakeholder perspectives on climate research in Austria was established. The workshop served as a first discussion arena for developing a national science plan for climate research. The dedicated and active participation of researchers from different disciplines and the formation of sub-working groups on content matters pertaining to the respective research areas resulted in creating a valuable basis for designing the science plan in detail.
The central structural result was that the individual sub-working groups were committed to function as editors for their respective research areas and that as such they would further attend to the more detailed development of the science plan beyond the scope of the workshop. For this purpose, the following distribution of tasks was agreed on:
- Research area I: “Physical Scientific Basis”,
coordinated by Leopold Haimberger (University of Vienna)
- Research area II: “Vulnerability, Risks/Impacts and Adaptation”,
coordinated by Markus Leitner (UBA)/Andreas Baumgarten (AGES)
- Research area III: “Mitigation und Societal Transformation”,
coordinated by Wilfried Winiwarter (KFU)/Helmut Haberl (AAU)
The final project report, dated May 2013, documents in detail the results drawn from this extensive process and from the work of the sub-working groups on the three research areas. The report is available to CCCA members on this web page (login required).
Once the project funded by the former Austrian Federal Ministry of Science and Research was completed, the CCCA’s science plan working group continued the process of developing a science plan for Austrian climate research with the financial support of the CCCA.
In June 2013, a broad participatory process was launched in the community in order to adapt the working paper into a science plan (coordinated by Georg Kaser and Bianca Rossmann). The respective document was sent out to all parties hitherto involved, kindly requesting further dissemination. The feedback received was incorporated in the workshop which took place on 14/15 November 2013. The aim of the workshop was to sum up the feedback in a document accepted by everyone concerned, so Austrian climate researchers be perceived as a coordinated climate research community by politics and society. The workshops results have been documented in a detailed protocol which is available to CCCA members on this web page (login required).
Based on the feedback and workshop results, the three sub-working groups continued their work in different ways. The plan was to also consider and integrate the research needs defined in APCC-AAR14. However, the fact that the research needs had not yet been made available in autumn 2013, due to a delay in bringing the AAR14 to completion, caused recess in developing the science plan.
The current draft
By cause of numerous other obligation, Georg Kaser stepped down as head of the science plan working group in autumn 2014. In their function as members of the science plan working group and as CCCA board members responsible for the science plan process until June 2015, Helga Kromp-Kolb and Hans Stötter supplemented all hitherto existing documents with the research needs stated in APCC-AAR14. Furthermore, they edited and merged the documents to compile a first draft of the science plan. All of this was done during the summer of 2015. The resulting first science plan draft, along with all existing documents, was presented to the CCCA board in the summer of 2015.
In the course of the revision and editing process, the chapter structure was expanded. In the introduction, the existing chapter on self-image was supplemented by a section on science communication.
The main section of the science plan originally comprised three research areas. The latter have been divided into six chapters addressing the research priorities. Chapter 3.5 deals with research concerning cultural transformation as its overarching topic. This is justified by the fact that transformation studies are cross-thematic (impact, adaptation, mitigation) and many of the area’s research questions relevant beyond climate policies remain as yet unanswered. By that fact, it should also be stressed that specific sources for funding transformation studies are deemed necessary.
The last section concerned with research priorities deals with cross-sectional issues and specific individual topics, such as climate change in the mountains, in urban spaces, or extreme events.
The research priorities indicated in the individual sections result from two processes: Firstly, the sections state the research needs established in the original working group papers. Secondly, they integrate the research needs defined in APCC AAR14. Since the individual chapters of the AAR14 do not provide a very homogeneous outline of the research needs, Helga Kromp-Kolb and Hans Stötter have tried to provide general descriptions of the respective problems (e.g., model improvements) and to make the research needs palpable by way of examples (e.g., geographic downscaling). However, the first draft of the science plan should and cannot comprehensively record all research needs, for new research questions keep emerging.
A chapter on establishing framework conditions for scientific research and outlining the current state of climate research in Austria conclude the science plan draft.
Version March 2017
In February 2016, the Science Plan working group was reactivated and extended to include new members. A public annotation process of the science plan was conducted from February until May 2016. The final phase of developing the science plan was supervised by review editors. The Science Plan (Version March 2017) was approved by the Ordinary General Assembly of the CCCA is now available online.