The 2009 United Nations Summit on Climate Change, which attracted
more than 100 world leaders, including the heads of state of both
the United States and China, is only one recent manifestation of
the growing international concern over human impact on climate. The
political and economic implications of the topic, of course, are
vast. Here, Science Watch® confines itself
to assessing the body of research.
To examine highly cited research on
climate change over the
last decade, Science Watch turned to a special extraction
Reuters-indexed literature, based on such keywords as "global
warming," "climate change," "human impact," and other pertinent
terms, in journal articles published and cited between 1999 and the
spring of 2009. This search produced upwards of 28,000 papers. From
this set, Science Watch identified the most-cited
institutions, authors, and journals.
Table 1a and table 1b
below rank institutions according to two separate measures: first,
by total citations, second, by average citations per paper (among
those institutions that published at least 100 papers in the
climate-change database). Highly cited authors
(table 2) and journals
(table 3) are also listed.
The most-cited paper in the survey is a 2002 Nature
report, "Ecological responses to recent climate change," (G.R.
Walther, et al., 416: 389-95, 2002), now cited
approximately 1,100 times. The nine co-authors include three names
from the list of highly cited scientists: Annette Menzel of the
Technical University of Munich,
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg of the University of Queensland, and
Parmesan of the University of Texas, Austin. Parmesan, in fact,
also contributed to another high-visibility Nature report,
now approaching 1,000 citations (C. Parmesan,
G. Yohe, "A globally coherent fingerprint of
climate change impact across natural systems," 421: 37-42,
Nature also accounts for the survey’s #2 most-cited
paper, which tops 1,050 citations: "The genetic legacy of the
Quaternary ice ages" (
G. Hewitt, 405: 907-13, 2000). Science, meanwhile,
chips in with the third-most-cited paper, which examines broader
aspects of assessing how species and ecosystems adapt to human
disruption (J.B.C. Jackson, et al., "Historical
overfishing and the recent collapse of coastal ecosystems," 293:
629-38, 2001; with just over 1,000 citations). Contributors to this
report include featured authors Jeremy B.C. Jackson of UC San
Diego, Terry P. Hughes of James Cook University, and John M.
Pandolfi of the University of Queensland.
The survey’s most-cited author (and also the contributor to
the highest number of papers in this climate-change dataset, with
57) is F. Stuart (Terry) Chapin of the University of Alaska. His
top paper, with more than 800 citations, is from Science:
"Biodiversity: Global biodiversity scenarios for the year 2100,"
(O.E. Sala, et al., 287: 1770-4, 2000).
Among institutions, the National Center for Atmospheric Research,
based in Boulder, Colorado, registers the highest citation total:
more than 11,000 collective cites to 360-plus papers, the most
cited of which is a Science paper on climate change and
its impact on coral reefs. This paper, now cited more than 450
times, also includes previously mentioned authors Hughes, Jackson,
Hoegh-Guldberg, and Pandolfi. (T.P. Hughes, et al., 301:
Among the organizations whose authors contributed to the coral-reef
report is the Smithsonian Institution, which emerges at #1 by the
measure of impact, or cites per paper, with 136 papers and a
per-paper average exceeding 40 (with the above-mentioned
blockbuster on historical overfishing providing a healthy boost).
As for journals: the multidisciplinary heavyweights Nature
and Science post comparable citation tallies for their
climate-themed papers, while Global Change Biology earns
top citation honors among specialty journals devoted to climate
change and related topics.
For more information and interviews on highly cited research on
this subject, ScienceWatch.com looks at the literature on
Change (including four Research Front Maps) over the past
decade and over the past two years.