Bert Bolin

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Bert Rickard Johannes Bolin (Swedish: [bæʈː bʊliːn]; 15 May 1925 – 30 December 2007)[1] was a Swedish meteorologist who served as the first chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), from 1988 to 1997. He was professor of meteorology at Stockholm University from 1961 until his retirement in 1990.


Bolin was born in Nyköping, Sweden [2] and graduated from Uppsala University in 1946. He earned a master's degree in 1949 and a doctorate in 1956, both in meteorology, at Stockholm University.[1] During his doctorate he spent a year in 1950 at the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, where he worked with Jule Charney, John von Neumann and others on the first computerized weather forecast, using ENIAC, the first electronic computer.[3]

Bolin's marriage to Ulla Frykstrand ended in divorce in 1979; they had three children: Dan, Karina and Göran.[1] Bolin resided in Österskär, north of Stockholm. He remained active until shortly before his death. He died in 2007 in Danderyd near Stockholm aged 82.

Career and awards

Bolin was Professor of Meteorology at Stockholm University 1961–1990, and involved in international climate research cooperation from the 1960s. Bolin was involved in organising use of the new satellite tools for climate research, which led to the formation of the ICSU Committee on Atmospheric Sciences (CAS) in 1964, with Bolin becoming its first Chairman. CAS started the Global Atmospheric Research Programme (GARP) in 1967, which Bolin also chaired; GARP became the World Climate Research Programme in 1980.[3]

Bolin served on the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases[4] from 1985. In 1987, the 500-page Brundtland Report which Bolin was involved with contributed to the setting up of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).[5] Under his chairmanship (from 1988 to 1997), the IPCC produced its First Assessment Report (1990) and Second Assessment Report (1995), contributing to the IPCC sharing the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize with former US Vice President Al Gore.[1] Bolin was asked to accept the Prize on behalf of the IPCC, but was too ill to attend.[5] Bolin is credited with bringing together a diverse range of views among the panel's 3,500 scientists into something resembling a consensus.[6] The first report led to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, and the second to the Kyoto Protocol.[1]

He has been scientific director of the European Space Research Organisation (now known as European Space Agency).[2]

He received many awards and honors for his work in climate research, including the International Meteorological Organization Prize (1981), Carl-Gustaf Rossby Research Medal (1984), the Tyler Prize for Environmental Achievement (1988), the highest atmospheric science award of the American Meteorological Society and the Blue Planet Prize (1995), often considered as the Nobel Prize for environmental sciences.[2] He also jointly received the Global Environment Facility's 1999 Global Environment Leadership Award.[7] Bolin was a member of the Swedish, Norwegian and Russian Academies of Sciences.[6]

In November 2007, shortly before his death, Bolin published the partly autobiographical A History of the Science and Politics of Climate Change: The Role of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.[5]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 Hevesi, Dennis (4 January 2008), "Bert Bolin, 82, Is Dead; Led U.N. Climate Panel", New York Times<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Rodhe, H. (1991). Bert Bolin and his scientific career, Tellus 43AB (4), 3–7.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Bert Bolin Centre for Climate Research, About Bert Bolin, accessed 13 March 2009
  4. David L. Downie, Kate Brash (September 2008). Climate Change: A Reference Handbook. ABC-CLIO. ISBN 1598841521. Bolin served on the Advisory Group on Greenhouse Gases<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  5. 5.0 5.1 5.2 The Guardian, 9 January 2008, Bert Bolin:Swedish meteorologist who persuaded the world to take climate change seriously
  6. 6.0 6.1 Nick Sundt, IPCC Chairman Ber Bolin Builds Consensus at the Wayback Machine (archived November 16, 2002)
  7. GEF's 1999 Global Environment Leadership Award (PDF file)

External links

Political offices
Preceded by
Chairman of the IPCC
Succeeded by
Robert Watson