Reinvigorating the LTER Climate Committee

Network News Spring 2009, Vol. 22 No. 1
Site News

In 2007, Doug Goodin stepped down as Chair of the LTER Climate Committee. Having worked for the Network for more than a decade, Doug decided to move on to other endeavors. Doug, thanks for your service! At the behest of LTER leadership I have agreed to chair the Climate Committee.
In his report to the LTER Executive Committee dated 11 June 2007, Doug, outlined the purpose of the Climate Committee and offered arguments for its continued existence. He also outlined how the structure and composition of the committee could be changed to better serve the needs of the LTER community. Offering such advice is surely the duty of those who serve as committee chairs for more than a decade.

In his analysis, Doug noted that there were more committee members than there were LTER sites. How could a committee be more successful than that? This demographic statistic reminded me of my University's academic procession committee. When I took over the chair of that committee, I found that it was populated in part by people who had died in the previous decade. Similarly, the current Climate Committee roster lists "members" whom we might call retired. Doug recommended one committee member per site. To facilitate the Committee's work, he suggested the formation of an executive committee of dedicated colleagues, and that the position of committee chair be term-limited. This is a somewhat problematic proposition because we are a "long-term" network with a history of taking on activities that are never finished or require a protracted and dedicated effort. Like the sites, the Climate Committee needs to plan for the orderly transfer of leadership. Discovery and training of the next chair should be one of the tasks of the Climate Committee.

Doug also recommended that the Committee be constituted in such a way that both climatological and hydrological sciences are adequately represented.

The lifeblood of a network is membership participation. Without communication, participation falters. The glue that holds it all together is an agenda of shared values and activities. That is why the Climate Committee has a long history of completing activities valued by the network.

The proposed reinvention of the Climate Committee must include the crafting of an agenda for the coming decade. This agenda should be completed at the All Scientists Meeting this fall. To that end a roster of Committee activities needs to be built this summer. That will require the help of LTER site representatives.

To get the ball rolling, I am asking committee members to think about a proposed thematic follow up to David Greenland, Douglas G. Goodin, and Raymond C. Smith's 2003 Oxford University Press synthesis volume, "Climate Variability and Ecosystem Response at Long-Term Ecological Research Sites". For such a long-term project, a planning horizon somewhere around 2013 might be appropriate. As we get ourselves reorganized, I will put out the call for suggestions and pester sites for ideas to reinvent the Climate Committee, and get ready for the All Scientist Meeting.

The Goodin report may be found at

By Bruce Hayden, VCR, Chair, LTER Climate Committee