International climate science conference

Between 350 and 400 of the world's leading climate scientists will descend upon Queenstown in 2014, for the general assembly of Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate [SPARC].

Greg Bodeker, of Bodeker Scientific, who is based in Alexandra and co-chairman of the project, went to Zurich to pitch the bid to host the conference and was financially and strategically assisted by Tourism New Zealand's conference assistance programme.

Destination Queenstown announced this was its first bid in conjunction with the programme.

SPARC was founded in 1992 and is one of the four core projects in the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).

The SPARC conference's four key topics of climate variability and change, ozone, atmospheric chemistry and aerosols, and polar processes, will be discussed over five and a-half days.

Dr Bodeker said around 2500 scientists were involved with the project "in one way or another". A general assembly is held every four years. The last was hosted in Italy in 2008.

"Because we had a big WCRP conference in Denver last year, we decided to postpone SPARC by two years."

New Zealand was one of the countries whose climate was strongly affected by stratospheric changes and this was a core reason Dr Bodeker sought a New Zealand location for the conference.

"You get a lot of changes happening in the stratosphere ... Those changes can affect surface climate in countries like Australia, New Zealand, Argentina, Peru.

"SPARC is all about how stratospheric processes affect climate and New Zealand is one of the countries strongly affected by this and that's why I thought New Zealand should hold this conference."

He also hoped the conference would highlight the importance of stratospheric research for New Zealand policy funders and research companies.

New Zealand used to have "a strong contribution to climate research", which he hoped would be "reinvigorated".

"It's also a shot in the arm for the regional economy in Queenstown."

The conference assistance programme is run on behalf of the Ministry of Economic Development and provides support for anyone considering hosting an international conference in New Zealand.


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