The Marine aspects of Earth System History (MESH) Program developed as an outgrowth several U.S. National Science Foundation-sponsored meetings. The largest and most important, an open workshop held in Portland, Oregon in 1993, was attended by about 60 individuals who had submitted white papers outlining important earth history research problems for the U.S. Global Change Research Program. A full discussion of the white papers ensued and several common themes were identified where paleoceanographic research could make important contributions to our understanding of the long-term, natural variability in earth environmental systems.
As defined from these discussions, the scientific goal of MESH is to identify and quantify the natural variability in earth's systems as recorded in the marine sedimentary record. MESH studies focus on understanding the coupled dynamics of the ocean-climate system by determining its sensitivity to external forcing and internal variability. Through the generation and analysis of data on the ocean's response to climate forcing and through integrated model-data comparative studies, MESH research seeks to identify the important feedback mechanisms (such as ocean chemistry and atmospheric greenhouse efficiency), which set the sensitivity of climate to change and how this sensitivity changes through time.
The MESH Office and its Steering Committee are responsible for identifying specific research goals associated with these broad scientific foci, identifying the infrastructure needed to accomplish the research, and coordinating planning activities among the U.S. researchers. The Steering Committee has begun to organize a series of workshops to develop focused implementation plans for MESH-funded US Global Change Research.
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