Chris Rapley

Global Environmental Change



Professor of Climate Science, University College London, London, UK

Volunteer experience that relates to this position:

Chair-elect of the European Science Foundation's European Space Science Committee (ESF ESSC); president of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research; chair of the International Planning Group for the International Polar Year; chair of the London Climate Change Partnership; member, then chair, of the European Space Agency Director General’s High-Level Science Policy Advisory Committee; Science Museum (London) Advisory Board member; member, U.S. National Academy of Sciences panel on the “Legacies and Lessons of the International Polar Year 2008-2009.”


Council members play critical roles as communication conduits among AGU members and leaders. How will you engage with members of your section to advance AGU’s new strategic plan? How might you facilitate engagement with other sections and people outside AGU to support our mission?

I believe strongly that there is a current imbalance between “discovery” mode science and the delivery by the environmental science community of “benefit to society.” The latter requires approaches and skills with which academics are traditionally poorly trained and ill prepared — requiring a familiarity with the body of knowledge generated by neuroscience and the social sciences more generally, of which natural scientists are, by and large, unaware. In addition, the academic esteem, rewards and funding systems militate against the shift. That's not to say that there has not been some progress since Lubchenco's 1998 "New Social Contract” appeal. But given the environmental changes under way, the scale and scope of the “delivery mode” urgently needs to be increased. I am pleased and encouraged to see this issue addressed in the AGU's strategic plan. If elected, I would use my existing role at University College London as chair of its Policy Commission on Communicating Climate Science (https://www.ucl.ac.uk/public-policy/policy-commissions/ucl-commission-communicating-climate-science-i/ucl-policy-commission) plus my role as ESF ESSC chair to promote AGU's efforts in this area, as well as acting as a champion, encouraging AGU members to join a dialogue about how best to engage in achieving AGU's goals — and to promote their ideas and initiatives as a result. This follows on from my role as a convenor of the U24A session "Is Environmental Science Serving or Failing Society? Strategies for Rapid Progress on Climate Solutions" at AGU’s Fall Meeting 2019.

Section affiliations:

Cryosphere; Earth and Planetary Surface Processes; Global Environmental Change; Hydrology; Space Physics and Aeronomy