About Us

The Woods Hole Research Center assesses threats to a safe climate and works with individuals, communities, governments, and NGOs to identify and implement opportunities to stabilize the global and regional climate.

WHRC was founded in 1985 by renowned ecologist George Woodwell to take the insights of science beyond the walls of academia to where they can effect real change. WHRC is focused on climate change because it is the single biggest threat to human and natural systems.

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copyright Chris LinderThe work of WHRC is centered on land-based carbon: where it is stored, where it is changing and at risk of being released, and where and how we can use land differently for a better carbon and climate future. From thawing permafrost in the Arctic, to expanding industrial agriculture driving deforestation in Indonesia and Brazil, to changing agricultural practices in the United States, WHRC scientists work around the globe in places where vast pools of carbon stored on land are at risk, threatening to cause climatic and societal disruption.
Woods Hole Research Center played an active role in setting the stage for the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). The activities started with early negotiations at meetings in Villach, Austria, and Bellagio, Italy, and continued at an international workshop held in Woods Hole in 1988. The results of the workshop were widely referred to in the UN General Assembly session that year. Following that workshop, WHRC strengthened its support by organizing a series of regional meetings in developing countries on the premise that an international agreement designed to stop global warming should reflect the needs of developing countries as well as those more industrially advanced.

Since 1987, WHRC has joined in the preparation of the reports by Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The first report was endorsed in the Second World Climate Conference in 1990, resulting in the creation of the Intergovernmental Negotiating Committee (INC) for a Framework Convention on Climate Change to elaborate a treaty for adoption at the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. The Center’s Dr. Kilaparti Ramakrishna was appointed special advisor and worked extensively with the INC in drafting this treaty, now the UNFCCC, which entered into force on March 21, 1994. WHRC staff have also been instrumental in the drafting of subsequent IPCC reports.

WHRC has worked with the UNFCCC in many capacities since it was created. In drafting the UNFCCC treaty, which entered into force on March 21, 1994, in 1989, for example, the Center helped establish the Climate Action Network (CAN) to facilitate cooperation between nongovernmental organizations in the US and the rest of the international community. This has become an important voice of both the environmental community and civil society throughout the history of the development of the climate regime and has acquired widespread acceptance by the international community, including within the United Nations.

The Parties of the UNFCCC convene annually at a Conference of the Parties (COP), and twice a year for meetings of the subsidiary bodies. Over the years, WHRC has continued to play an active role through its involvement and contributions to each COP.

WHRC is committed to increasing employment and educational opportunities for minorities through recruitment, retention, and mentoring programs for high school, college, and post-graduate students and professionals.

Diversity Advisory CommitteeWHRC joined with other Woods Hole scientific institutions to create the Woods Hole Scientific Community Diversity Initiative, which begins with the premise that greater diversity in the Woods Hole scientific community will provide “a greater understanding of environmental and scientific issues.” The Woods Hole Diversity Advisory Committee acts as a clearinghouse for information and other resources related to the implementation of this initiative. For more information: Memorandum of Understanding.

The Woods Hole Partnership Education Program (PEP) was created to promote diversity in Woods Hole. The program offers college juniors and seniors practical experience in marine and environmental science. The program consists of a four-week course and a six- to ten-week research project in Woods Hole. For more information: www.woodsholediversity.org/pep/about.html.

thepolarisprojectThe Polaris Project is a 3-week field course in the Siberian Arctic designed to provide undergraduate students field research experience. The program was created through a grant from the National Science Foundation to inspire students from diverse backgrounds to become arctic researchers. For more information: www.thepolarisproject.org