The following special section consists of papers that were presented at the First Science Conference of the Global Analysis, Interpretation and Modelling Task Force (GAIM) that was held September 24–29, 1995, in Garmisch-Partenkirchen, Germany. The goal of GAIM is to advance the study of the coupled dynamics of the Earth system using as tools both data and models. The goal of the science conference was to provide a venue for the dissemination of scientific findings that would be steps toward developing prognostic biogeochemical models which could, in time, be coupled to models of the physical climate system.
The science conference focused on papers in the areas of global data analysis and assessment, modeling of biogeochemical systems and their relationship to physical climate and hydrologic systems, and interpretation of current trends as indicated by global databases and model results for extrapolation with regard to future global change. Oral and poster session topics were grouped by time periods, including “Paleo” (<20 kyr), “Historical” (<2 kyr), “Contemporary” (<20 years), and “Future,” with an additional session concerned with global systems integration. The new and continued research directions stemming from these contributions should eventually lead to answers regarding the measurement, causes, and consequences of natural and anthropogenic global change.