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NOAA’s Ko Barrett elected vice chair of international climate science panel
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NOAA’s Ko Barrett elected vice chair of international climate science panel

Ko Barrett (left) joins Youba Sokana of Mali and Thelma Krug as IPCC vice chairs

The United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) elected NOAA’s Ko Barrett to serve as one of three vice chairs for the international body. The IPCC was created to review and assess the most recent scientific, technical, and socio-economic information produced worldwide that is relevant to the understanding of climate change. 

Barrett, who is acting deputy assistant administrator for NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, was elected last week in Dubrovnik, Croatia, where the IPCC was holding its 42nd Session. Hoesung Lee of the Republic of Korea was elected the new chair of the IPCC. Thelma Krug of Brazil and Youba Sokana of Mali were also elected vice-chairs.

“I’m excited to serve on the executive committee and look forward to working with the world’s leading scientists to engage the wider scientific community and the public on the most important issue of our time,” said Barrett.

As part of the executive committee, Barrett will help advise the chair and panel on scientific and technical issues, work to engage the scientific and public community, ensure scientific quality, and facilitate coordination among the body’s scientific working groups.  She will serve in this capacity through the publication of the next set of IPCC climate assessment reports.   

Barrett hopes to use her new position to advocate for more girls and women to enter and advance in fields of Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). “With more women in IPCC leadership than ever before, we hope to work together to encourage more women to choose STEM careers that will be good for them and for their nations’ economic futures,” Barrett said.

Barrett brings to the IPCC position 15 years of experience representing the U.S. on delegations charged with negotiating and adopting scientific assessments made by the IPCC. The IPCC produces scientific reports that support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, the main international treaty on climate change.

Barrett is widely recognized as an expert on climate policy, particularly on issues related to climate impacts and strategies to help society adapt to a changing world. She has won multiple awards for contributions to both NOAA and the nation, notably the U.S. Department of State Meritorious Honor Award in 2011, NOAA Administrator’s Awards in 2010 and 2015, and a Nobel Peace Prize she shared with members of the IPCC in 2007.

Prior to joining NOAA in 2005, Ms. Barrett was the director of the Global Climate Change program at USAID, and oversaw climate activities in over 40 countries. While at USAID, she also initiated its Vulnerability and Adaptation Program, the first of several tools USAID developed to help planners and stakeholders cope with changing climate.

Ms. Barrett has a bachelor of science degree in environmental studies from the University of North Carolina in Asheville, where she was named University Scholar as well Distinguished Research Scholar, and elected a member of Sigma Xi, the Scientific Research Society.

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For more information, please contact Monica Allen, director of public affairs for NOAA Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, at 301-734-1123 or by email at

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Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) - or "NOAA Research" - provides the research foundation for understanding the complex systems that support our planet. Working in partnership with other organizational units of the NOAA, a bureau of the Department of Commerce, NOAA Research enables better forecasts, earlier warnings for natural disasters, and a greater understanding of the Earth. Our role is to provide unbiased science to better manage the environment, nationally, and globally.


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