|DSAR meeting summary and
The DSAR conference was structured with
a series of themes, spanning the basic and applied atmospheric sciences, and research
strategy. Climate, meteorological modelling, micrometeorology, wind energy, and air
pollution, each were well represented across various themes. Presentations were in general
of a high quality. Solid participation by the Danish Meteorological Institute, National
Environmental Research Institute, University of Odense, Risø, and the University of
Copenhagen - CU were noted among the participation list. In addition, visiting scientists
from Russia, Italy, and Germany were among the participants.
In the afternoon of the second day of the conference, a panel
discussion convened in order to discuss various aspects of the atmospheric sciences in
Denmark, and to provide a synopsis of the status of the research capacity and
opportunities. Members of the panel were Gary Geernaert (DMU), Søren Larsen (Risø),
Flemming Nicolaiesen (University of Copenhagen), Marianne Glasius (University of Odense),
and Jens Rostrup-Nielsen (Haldor Topsøe). The panel discussion was lead by Aksel Walløe
Hansen (University of Copenhagen).
|The following general conclusions
- There was overwhelming broad support for the DSAR concept, and the
community of scientists present advocated a repeat performance in 2000. Thematic sessions
hosted by various institutions was strongly encouraged. All ideas were requested to be
sent directly to any member of the steering committee, with a copy to the secretary of
- Denmark has a strong research community, covering a wide range of
subjects. For example, DMI, DMU, and Risø have strong internationally recognized research
programs, and training within the two universities was recognized to be of high quality.
Scientific productivity in the form of journal articles is relatively strong.
- Most researchers have placed a higher priority on international
collaborations, not domestic collaborations. This is perhaps a consequence of the funding
sources, which require strong international profiling of research activities over domestic
collaboration. The DSAR community therefore has a reputation of not collaborating at the
national level, and the community is on appearance uncoordinated. This may be illustrated
by a Ministry of Research evaluation of the Danish research capacity, two years ago, where
the atmospheric sciences were not even noticed. This implied either the lack of interest
(or knowledge) within the Ministry of Research in the atmospheric sciences, and/or the
lack of expertise in the atmospheric (or related) sciences among the Ministrys
research panels. This poses an identity problem for atmospheric sciences at the ministry
level in Denmark.
- The universities are under stress. The demand for PhDs is
going up, and the number of faculty is going down. There are also limited resources for
financing PhD studies, with diminishing resources. With socioeconomics and technology
driving Danish science policy, a new mode of defining PhD studies in the atmospheric
sciences will be required. In this context, COGCI has been formulated as a prototype
academic organization within CU, with a strategy to integrate sector institutes in the
training of PhDs, and integrating disciplines more closely. Ole John Nielsen is the
point of contact.
- The job market generally demands a degree of PhD in atmospheric
sciences. Except for DMI (who hires Bachelor and MSc level scientists), there are fewer
and fewer opportunities for bachelor and MSc level scientists in Denmark. Hence, the
discipline has difficulty attracting university students.
- The general reduction of basis funding in sector institutes has
resulted in increased demands on scientists to sell their ideas to a variety of sponsors.
It was agreed that experience should be given to PhD students, both from the universities
and from sector institutes, in scientific writing and presenting in both Danish and
- It was highlighted that Denmark is weak in some of the atmospheric
subjects which are gaining in scientific importance in both the environmental and
climate-related sciences, e.g., cloud physics and cloud chemistry. A strategy was
suggested to be developed during the next year, in order to address this deficiency.
- It was agreed that an optimum for successful scientists would
involve roughly 65% level of effort on active research, 25% on maintaining scientific
expertise, and 10% on proposal writing. It was agreed research managers should give
serious effort to assure that the level of 65% will be maintained, in spite of decreasing
basis funding to sector research institutes. As was pointed out by many, the funding to
sustain this optimum level of scientific production is in decline, and the efficiency of
science has a downward tendency. The distribution of effort within the universities was
acknowledged to be different from the 65-25-10 percentages expected of the sector
institutes, due to inborn teaching priorities within the universities.
|Some suggestions for 2000
- Consideration of an annual one-day meeting, plus half-day thematic
meetings held throughout the year. In the annual one-day meetings, a broad public talk
(with journalists) should be given. This could be followed by overview talks of 45
minutes, where the subject matter is directed to the whole audience. Overview talks should
summarize the state of the art, deficiency of knowledge, and strategic questions; posters
could supplant the major overview papers in a coordinated fashion.
- Themes could change, in order to emphasize hot scientific topics,
based on deficiency of knowledge, new challenges, opportunities, etc. Examples are: toxic
air pollutants, particulates, modelling, traffic, wind energy potential, etc.