RIYADH: Saudi Arabia has launched a world-class center for climate change research. The Center of Excellence for Climate Change Research (CECCR) on the campus of King Abdulaziz University (KAU) in Jeddah was established on Monday a few hours before the meeting in Copenhagen at which energy and environment ministers were making pledges for a clean global climate.

“The center is designed to play a pioneering role in the field of climate change research in line with policies and commitments of Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques King Abdullah and the Kingdom’s government agencies,” said Osama S. Tayyeb, KAU president, after formally opening the center late Monday.

Tayyeb said a fund of SR14 million had been earmarked for the center. The CECCR had been set up as part of a KAU’s initiative in this field, he said.

Tayyeb said the center was a natural addition to KAU, which has a faculty of meteorology, environment and arid land agriculture. “The center will also work in collaboration with the world’s leading research centers,” he said.

“Moreover, the center aims to establish a national climate database and develop state-of-the-art global and regional climate models to project the potential impact of long-term weather change,” said professor Adnan Hamza Zahid, KAU vice president for postgraduate studies and scientific research. “In the recent past, the Arabian Peninsula in particular and West Asia in general have had lesser periods of rainfall because of climate change, and hence mitigation efforts have to be planned and implemented to cope with this tendency,” said Mansour Almazroui, the center’s director.

Almazroui, who is also an associate fellow in climatic research unit (CRU) at the University of East Anglia (UEA) in the UK, said the impact of climate change on Saudi Arabia was aggravated by the absence of large inland water bodies. “Therefore, sustained, systematic and thorough analyses of these trends are called for to gauge their socio-economic impacts on the Kingdom,” he added. The center, he said, would open its research, training and computation facilities to M.Sc. and Ph.D. students from other Saudi, regional and international institutions.

Almazroui said center would support local and regional activities through the sharing of knowledge and skills and provide a forum for discussion and guidance not only for climate scientists but also for governmental agencies. He said the center had already enrolled six students, including three international ones, in its postgraduate program. It will begin a Ph.D. program in the next academic year.

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