On February 28, 2012 the inauguration of the University of Maryland and Beijing Normal University Joint Global Change and Earth System Science Center was held at the Riggs Alumni Center on the College Park Campus attended by 70 people. Senior representatives from Beijing Normal University along with high-ranking officials from the Chinese Ministry of Science and Technology and the Chinese Embassy attended.
President Wallace D. Loh gave remarks at the beginning of inauguration followed by Yanhua Liu, President of the Geographical Society of China, and former Vice Minister of Ministry of Science and Technology of the P.R. of China; Jonathan Wilkenfeld, Associate Provost and Associate Vice President for International Programs, University of Maryland; Chaochen Li, Minister Counselor of Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.; Maotian Fang, Minster Counselor of Chinese Embassy in Washington D.C.; Peijun Shi, Executive Vice President of Beijing Normal University and John Townshend, Dean of College of Behavioral and Social Sciences (BSOS), University of Maryland, who chaired the ceremony.
During the ceremony, President Loh officially announced that Dr. John Townshend would be the Co-Director of the joint center and Dr. Mengxue Li, Director of BSOS International Programs of BSOS, would be the Co-executive Director from the UMD side. Professor Peijun Shi and Professor Bing Xu would be the Co-Director and Co-executive Director respectively from the BNU side.
Following the inaugural event, a symposium was held. A series of brief research presentations were given on a range of topics to be addressed by the center including:climate change science and technology in China by Prof. Yanhua Liu, President of the Geographical Society of China; Global Agricultural Monitoring by Dr. Christopher Justice, Department of Geographical Sciences; Global cultivated soybean area estimation using multi‐resolution, multi‐temporal satellite data sets by Dr. Matthew Hansen, Department of Geographical Sciences; How environmental changes can affect climate change by Dr. Zhanqing Li, Earth System Sciences Interdisciplinary Center, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science; Regional earth system modeling by Dr. Xinzhong Liang, Earth System Sciences Interdisciplinary Center, Department of Atmospheric and Oceanic Science; Estimating of key biophysical properties from satellite observations by Dr. Shunlin Liang, Department of Geographical Sciences; Long term climate land data record from multiple satellite system by Dr. Eric Vermote, Department of Geographical Sciences; Developing land change records using Landsat data by Dr. Chengquan Huang, Department of Geographical Sciences; and Global change research at Beijing Normal University, given by Prof. Wenjie Dong, College of Global Change and Earth System Science, BNU.
Cooperation between UMD and BNU goes back to 2005, the time that a general MOU was signed and considerable progress has been achieved in terms of research activities, especially in remote sensing technology and earth observation. Exchange of visitors and graduate students in earth system sciences has occurred. In June of 2011, President Loh visited BNU and met with Minister of Education Yuan Guiren and former Minister of Science and Technology, Xu Guanhua. During that meeting, a proposal for a joint institute on global change and earth system science was developedand an agreement was signed in October of 2011. The initial work of the Center is based on two major existing cooperative projects, ‘Produce and Application of Global Land Surface Variables’ and ‘Deployment of the DOE/ARM Mobile Facility in China for Studying the Aerosol Indirect Effects on Climate’,which involve funding from both countries. The objectives of the Joint Center are to: i) Promote and strengthen bilateral cooperation in the fields of Global Change and Earth System Science; ii) Share resources to facilitate the application of research projects and funding in China and the US; iii) Cooperate and collaborate on a wide range of international research programs; iv) Explore new strategies for Sino-US academic cooperation to train and cultivate young scholars and research leaders; v) Share the intellectual property rights resulting from research at the Joint Center.