Obituary: Prof. Yuri Antonievich Izrael


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change is greatly saddened to announce the loss of one of its most distinguished friends and long-serving contributors.

Yuri Antonievich Izrael, an outstanding scientist in the fields of nuclear geophysics, atmospheric physics, oceanology, and applied ecology and climatology, died on 23 January 2014. Professor Izrael will be remembered for proposing and introducing a new concept into science: comprehensive monitoring of the environment.

From the establishment of the IPCC, Professor Izrael served as national coordinator of IPCC-related issues in the USSR and subsequently Russia; for 20 years he was a member of the Bureau of the IPCC. At the First Session of the Panel (Geneva, 9-11 November 1988), Professor Izrael was appointed Chair of Working Group II. The Working Group was tasked with viewing the environmental and socio-economic impacts of climate change in an integrated manner. Its report The IPCC Impacts Assessment was finalized in May 1990 in Moscow and formed part of the first IPCC Assessment Report.

At the 8th Session of the IPCC (Harare, Zimbabwe, 11-13 November 1992), Professor Izrael was elected IPCC Vice-Chair, a position he held until 2008. In his 20 years of involvement with the IPCC as member of the Bureau, Professor Izrael was an advocate of scientific excellence. He emphasized the importance of observational networks and comprehensive monitoring of environmental changes and the need for long-term scenarios of climate change and possible impacts. He was also instrumental in shaping the IPCC’s processes and procedures: he highlighted potential weaknesses in the processes and was a strong supporter of the participation of experts from all regions of the world in the IPCC’s work. Until the end of his term in the IPCC Bureau he proved to be a strong source of support and ensured the development of a robust fourth Assessment Report. Professor Izrael was a member of the IPCC delegation in Oslo when the IPCC received the 2007 Nobel Peace Price together with former U.S. Vice-President Al Gore.

Professor Izrael devoted special attention to environmental sciences, meteorology and climatology and to his work in international organizations, particularly the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). He was Vice-President of the WMO for 12 years. He participated in the formulation of the new World Climate Programme and its climate change impacts component. His wide interests in the field of ecology and protecting the human environment and oceans are embodied in his monographs Ecology and Control of the Natural Environment and Anthropogenic Ecology of the Ocean. In 1990, Professor Izrael established the Institute of Global Climate and Ecology and was its director until 2011. From 1996 until 2002, he served as academic secretary of the Department of Oceanology, Atmospheric Physics and Geography of the Russian Academy of Sciences. In the last few years, he continued to work as a senior research fellow of the Institute he had set up and as adviser to the Russian Academy of Sciences.

All of us who had the privilege of working with Professor Izrael will greatly miss his thoughtful advice. He was unstinting in sharing his wisdom. Yuri was also a generous and warm personality and we will greatly miss his friendliness and his sense of humour.


Obituary in Russian