New: Accomplishments of the U.S. Global Change Research Program

February 22, 2017
Washington, D.C.

*Excerpts cross-posted from the report, the (BASC) website and related National Academy of Sciences communications*

Accomplishments of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (2017)

This new National Academy of Sciences (NAS) report 'highlights advances in global change science in the quarter century the USGCRP has been in existence, and documents some of its contributions to that growth. Accomplishments are discussed in terms of the two primary functions of the USGCRP: (1) strategic planning and coordination of global change research efforts in 13 participating federal agencies and departments; and (2) high-level synthesis of global change research results presented in assessments and other products that are shared with decision makers and the American public.' Get the Report 

Carbon Cycle Science Accomplishments (from the report summary):

'Carbon-Cycle science Carbon-cycling research has been a focus for USGCRP agencies because of the role carbon plays as a major regulator of Earth’s climate and as a key factor in controlling the acidity of the global oceans in order to assess and predict change, both carbon fluxes to the atmosphere (sources) and carbon sequestration in land and ocean ecosystems (sinks) need to be understood and quantified. The USGCRP agencies have championed strategic planning activities and promoted and coordinated core observations and process studies on global carbon sources and sinks. In 1998, the Carbon Cycle interagency Working Group (CCIWG) was formally constituted to coordinate efforts that 12 U.S. government agencies and departments now lead as part of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program. During the past 25 years, research organized and supported in part by the USGCRP has greatly increased our understanding of the processes involved in, for example, the potential for enhanced decomposition of soil carbon as the climate warms, and the processes influencing carbon dioxide uptake in a warming ocean. Important components of this research are intensive, interagency coordinated field campaigns that unite in-situ, air-borne, and satellite-based observations.'
The schematic from the report below shows examples of USGCRP activities and pertinent feedback among USGCRP science questions, research coordination, research syntheses products, use of research and research prioritization mechanisms.

From the BASC website: 'Established under the Global Research Act of 1990, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has provided strategic planning and coordination to 13 participating federal agencies working to advance the science of global environmental change. This new report highlights notable accomplishments of the program, both in through its coordinating work and the many synthesis and assessment products it has published to share research findings with decision makers and the public. One of the first priorities of the program was to address the need for a global observational system. Today there is a large and growing portfolio of global measurements from space designed to inform global change science. Other demonstrable contributions of USGCRP include significant improvements in Earth-system modeling capabilities and advancement in understanding of carbon-cycle processes. USGCRP has also made considerable strides in making scientific knowledge more useful to decision makers. For example, it has documented substantial increases in heavy downpours in most regions of the United States over the past 50 years, which can cause flooding that overwhelms the existing infrastructure of sewers and roads. Awareness of such trends can help governments, businesses, and citizens respond accordingly in many realms, including agriculture, conservation, and human health. In the face of increasing impacts from climate change and other global changes, the report recommends that the USGCRP build on its accomplishments by sustaining, expanding, and coordinating observations of the Earth system and maintaining a balanced program of discovery-driven and use-inspired research to support the needs of the nation at local, regional, national, and global scales. USGCRP will need to make further progress in incorporating the social sciences into its work to provide the information needed to effectively and efficiently manage current and likely consequences of global change.'

The full report and chapters can be downloaded from the National Academy of Sciences website here.

A PDF of the full report is also available here.

A summary of the report is available here.

Authoring Body:

Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program

Primary Board:

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Collaborating Unit:

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

Other Reports in this series:

A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Strategic Plan (2012)
Enhancing Participation in the U.S. Global Change Research Program (2015)
Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document (2016)

Other NAS reports on related topics:

Climate and Weather (e.g. The Future of Atmospheric Chemistry Research: Remembering Yesterday, Understanding Today, Anticipating Tomorrow (2016))

Climate Change