Oral history of British science

Woodworth, Philip (Part 7 of 9) An Oral History of British Science

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  • Recording locations

    British Library studio, London and Proudman Oceanographic Laboratory, Liverpool

  • Interviewees

    Woodworth, Philip 1949- (speaker, male)

  • Interviewers

    Merchant, Paul (speaker, male)

  • Abstract

    Part 7: [1:20:54] Story of inaccurate, exaggerated predictions of global SL rise, 1990s, led by Jim Titus of US Environmental Protection Agency, including own reaction. [4:26] Comments on use of unlikely SL rise predictions by geographers in UK; reduction in magnitude of predicted SL rise, from first [1990] to fourth [2007] IPCC [Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change] assessments [8:18] Comments on role of ‘contributing author’[CA]/ ‘lead author’ [LA] for IPCC assessments. [11:25] Comments on reasons for own selection as CA, first IPCC assessment. Description/discussion of work as LA for second IPCC assessment, including relations with other LAs, own expertise in observations of, rather than explanations for, global SL change. [26:23] Comments on difficulty of assessing effect on SL change of terrestrial hydrology. [29:20] Comments on use of SA data in third and fourth IPCC assessments, including related story of error in range determination of TP exaggerating rate of SL rise. [31:55] Comments on living with/caring for mother, Thornton Hough, 1983 to 2005. Story of awareness of Bidston Observatory as a child. [37:05] Comments on pastimes/friendships, 1983 to present. [40:30] Comments on straightforward arrangement for care for mother in relation to career. [40:32] Story of responsibility for PSMSL from 1983, including formal Directorship from 1988. Mentions contemporary origins of IOC’s [International Oceanographic Commission] GLOSS. Story of establishment of IOC SL training courses. Comments on administrative ability of ES. Mentions ES’s retirement, 1999. Brief description of punched card technology of PSMSL, replaced by Oracle ‘relational’ database, early 1980s. Discussion of advances in computer hardware, IOSB, from 1983. Further comments on work of ES. [50:38] Comments on University of Hawaii Sea Level Center [UHSLC], established by KW, focused on El Nino. Mentions non governmental organisation of PSMSL through ICSU [International Council of Scientific Unions]. Comments on intergovernmental organisation of GLOSS, through IOC as part of UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization]. Mentions GLOSS as first programme of GOOS (Global Ocean Observing System); relations between GLOSS and PSMSL. Mentions numbers of TG sites for PSMSL/GLOSS; international meetings of GLOSS; correspondence between sharing of oceanographic data in IOC/GOOS and meteorological data by UN (United Nations) WMO (World Meteorological Organisation). [56:57] Description of role as Chairman of GLOSS, including attempts to establish TG sites in IOC countries in Africa/surrounding Indian Ocean, including role of training courses. Comments on publication of real time GLOSS data by Flanders Marine Institute, Ostend, France in relation to storm/Tsunami prediction; GLOSS Implementation Plan. [1:03:42] Comments on working relations with GLOSS representative in Africa/South America; difficulties of maintaining TG stations in Africa/South America; arguments for local value of TG measurements, in relation to coastal erosion/shipping. [1:10:39] Comments on popular/media inquiries concerning SL. Mentions appearance on BBC ‘Coast’ programme; involvement in University of Liverpool ‘climate change radio’; forthcoming conference ‘Planet Under Pressure’. [1:14:14] Comments on recent increase in media interest in SL. Mentions collection of clippings of own contributions to newspaper articles; use of PSMSL data in BBC Horizon programme, with US commentary. Comments on nature of media interest in SL. [1:17:03] Comments on JASON and Envisat satellite missions. [1:19:14] Comments on UK National Tidal and Sea Level Facility.

  • Description

    Interview with oceanographer Philip Woodworth

  • Related links

    Visit this interviewee's page on the 'Voices of Science' web resource

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