About GAIA

GAIA is a new initiative at The Johns Hopkins University connecting decision-makers with the research community. GAIA's focus is on climate disruption and its effects on society. The key to the GAIA approach is building connections through a series of topical cyber-enabled workshops. These workshops feature a structure that brings together people from a wide range of disciplines to exchange ideas and information, to assess and prioritize needs, and to develop approaches to addressing those needs.

The first GAIA workshop, Climate, Climate Change, and Public Health, will be held April 12–14, 2011, in Baltimore, MD. There will be a second major workshop addressing Climate Disruption and Security in August 2011. These workshops feature plenary session overviews that provide all attendees with a common footing and focused tutorials exploring particular aspects of the problem. Small, moderated working groups supported by a dedicated cyber-infrastructure then capture not only invited and contributed talks but also ad hoc comments, contributions, and insights. A typical GAIA event is structured as the investigation of several related themes, with the working groups developing their "top ten" issues as white papers. These white papers are then externally reviewed and distributed to key policy-makers. Each GAIA workshop develops a social network, defines a community of interest, produces documentation of the state-of-the-art knowledge in the field, develops an initial set of decision-making tools, and defines a path forward for future work that will be sustained after the workshop.

GAIA will develop the tools required to bridge the gap between the scientific knowledge of climate change and actionable information needed by decision-makers. The GAIA initiative was created at The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory (JHU/APL). JHU/APL is a not-for-profit University Affiliated Research Center (UARC) that works to provide “critical contributions to critical challenges. ”

GAIA consists of three parts that are currently under development:

  • e-GAIA: a collaboration environment that enables virtual collaborations and supports face-to-face interactions
  • GAIA VxO: a virtual observatory that provides the means for accessing data and model output through a common interface
  • GAIA ACTION: a visualization toolbox and workflow repository

The GAIA project will build connections among the various communities that must deal with the impact of climate change. The first GAIA workshop is the upcoming Climate, Climate Change, and Public Health workshop. A later workshop will deal with Security and Climate Change.

Adaptation strategies must be pragmatic and focus on developing policies and measures that will prevent or ameliorate negative impacts. A partnership between the climate and public health communities needs to be created and sustained. Support for global, national, and local interactions is needed. GAIA workshops are a step in that direction. Linking modeling and planning efforts and building an understanding of the limitations and requirements of this process are the goals of GAIA.