What is SPARC?

SPARC (Stratosphere-troposphere Processes And their Role in Climate) is a core project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP). Founded in 1992, SPARC has coordinated high-level research activities related to understanding Earth system processes for over two decades. More specifically, SPARC promotes and facilitates cutting-edge international research activities on how chemical and physical processes in the atmosphere interact with climate and climate change.

SPARC activities are organised under three overarching themes and result from an integration of process studies, observations, and modelling. Research is largely bottom-up driven and contributes significantly to international assessments, such as the assessments of ozone depletion by the World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) and United Nations Environmental Programme (UNEP), as well as the climate assessments of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). SPARC products include scientific assessment reportsjournal publicationsnewsletters, and datasets.

Much of the science SPARC is coordinating relates to the WCRP Grand Challenges (GC), particularly the GCs on Clouds, Circulation and Climate SensitivityNear-term Climate PredictionClimate Extremes, and Carbon Feedbacks in the Climate System. Grand Challenges are both highly specific and highly focused, identifying specific barriers preventing progress in a critical area of climate science. They enable the development of targeted research efforts with the likelihood of significant progress over 5 to 10 years.

The Scientific Steering Group (SSG) provides leadership for SPARC and represents a broad spectrum of disciplines and nationalities, including both junior and senior scientists. The SPARC SSG is supported by the SPARC Office and activity leaders. All scientists involved in SPARC initiatives work on a voluntary basis and often spend time and resources outside regular office hours on SPARC activities. The continuing success of SPARC relies on the essential contributions of this community.


What does SPARC do?

Scientific research coordination: SPARC brings together the world’s experts to address key questions in atmospheric and climate research.

SPARC workshops, meetings, and general assemblies: To facilitate high-level science, SPARC organises many workshops and meetings related to SPARC activities and themes. The SPARC General Assemblies (SPARC GAs) are held approximately every four years and are key events in the SPARC calendar, bringing together scientists from the international community to discuss SPARC-related research.

SPARC science: SPARC is well known for its comprehensive scientific reports, which assess current knowledge and understanding on topics within SPARC research themes.  These reports are strictly peer-reviewed and of high scientific quality, having been widely cited and influential in the WMO/UNEP Ozone Assessments and IPCC Assessments. Results from SPARC activities are also often published in special issues of scientific journals.

SPARC communication: SPARC’s biannual newsletters are well cited in peer-reviewed publications reflecting their high scientific quality and visibility. They include:  (i) reports of the annual SPARC Scientific Steering Group meetings as well as WCRP Joint Steering Committee meetings and other activities related to WCRP;  (ii) reports of scientific workshops, related meetings, and activities supported by SPARC;  (iii) summary articles on new research activities, measurement campaigns, and programmes related to SPARC. SPARC also communicates regularly with the community through its eNews bulletins.