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3 Preliminary Assessment of CCSP Progress C hapter 2 recommends dividing the evaluation of Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) progress into two stages: (1) a broad over- view of the entire program and (2) an in-depth analysis of areas in which progress has been inadequate. The committee addressed task 1b—a preliminary analysis of CCSP progress—by carrying out the first stage of the evaluation. The first stage is focused on major issues that are relatively easy to identify, so it can be carried out using mainly the knowledge of the evaluators. Because the program is so broad, however, the committee supplemented its knowledge with input from a workshop, consultation with CCSP program managers, and reference to the literature. Qualitative scores and commentary from the first stage of the evaluation appear in Part II, and overall conclusions and a discussion of key areas that should undergo the second stage of the evaluation are given below. EVALUATION APPROACH The committee’s preliminary (stage 1) assessment was structured around a matrix of 33 research questions versus five categories of outputs and outcomes (see Appendix C). Scores were assigned to each cell of the matrix. The scores of the cells were then combined and analyzed to draw conclusions about progress in the research elements, cross-cutting issues, and one of the overarching goals. At the request of the CCSP, progress was assessed for the last four years of effort—the lifetime of the program. Nearly all of the milestones and products in the CCSP strategic plan were to have been completed within 5

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 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP four years, although in several cases this objective has not been met. Where longer periods were required to demonstrate progress of fundamental re- search (e.g., see NRC, 2005), the committee’s assessment extends beyond four years. Program results were gleaned from accomplishments listed in Our Changing Planet (CCSP, 2005, 2006a) and the scientific literature. It is generally not possible to distinguish between accomplishments that re- sult from agency-sponsored activities (1) that are carried out to address CCSP or related objectives and are counted in the CCSP budget, or (2) that are relevant to the CCSP, but are not considered part of the program (e.g., National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System [NPOESS]). Only CCSP workshops, coordinated activities (e.g., interagency working groups [IWGs] and their science committees), and synthesis and assessment products can be linked unambiguously to the program. In the absence of information to make this distinction, the committee treated all U.S. government-sponsored climate science as part of the CCSP. However, a final evaluation of CCSP progress would focus ideally only on areas at- tributable to the program. A significant source of input for the evaluation was a workshop of CCSP stakeholders (listed in Appendix D) organized by the committee in September 2006. Stakeholders that generate or use CCSP information and products include research scientists; private companies and nongovern- mental organizations in the insurance, agriculture, energy, forestry, trans- portation, water resources, public health, and emergency response sectors; federal, state, and local government agencies; and policy makers (NRC, 2005). Their insights are particularly important for assessing program qual- ity and outcomes. However, about 80 percent of the workshop attendees were scientists, making the exercise more of a peer review than a broad stakeholder assessment. Although chosen for their expertise in different aspects of the CCSP, no small group of individuals can represent the scope of the CCSP. Nevertheless, their collective insights enabled nearly all of the cells in the matrix to be scored. Because the stage 1 assessment focused on identifying major strengths and weaknesses, the committee chose to score progress on a scale of good, fair, and inadequate. The objective was to assign five scores to each research question, one for each column of the matrix. However, in some cases a score was not applicable. For example, not all research questions follow the same progression from improving data sets to informing policy. Some will lead simply to new research directions. Other research questions mirror the matrix columns (e.g., question 3.1 focuses on data and physical quantities). In such cases it did not make sense to score all columns of the matrix. Many of the research questions are broadly written and include mul- tiple components, each of which may have progressed at a different rate.

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 PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF CCSP PROGRESS Where this was the case, multiple scores were assigned to the cell and described in the commentary. A score for progress in the overall research question was assigned based on the scores of the five cells and the judgment of the committee about which cells were most significant. Overall, the committee and workshop participants found that they were able to use the matrix to score progress in all of the research ques- tions. The primary difficulty in scoring the left columns of the matrix (col- umns A, B, and C) was that data, processes, and predictions can overlap significantly, sometimes making it difficult to differentiate progress in one area from progress in another. The most difficult cells to score were those concerning synthesis and assessments, and risk managements and decision support (columns D and E). Any CCSP accomplishments in these areas are not yet widely published or known in the community. In many cases, the committee was able to gather additional information to adjust or verify the initial scores. However, a larger number of social scientists and state and local decision makers would ease future evaluations. RESULTS OF THE STAGE 1 EVALUATION Few of the CCSP research questions scored good or fair on all five columns of the matrix. Below is a summary of which areas of the research elements are proceeding as well as or better than expected, and which areas should undergo careful (stage 2) evaluation to diagnose problems and im- prove CCSP outcomes. In selecting the areas for stage 2 analysis, the com- mittee strove for both practicality, which limits the number of issues that can reasonably be evaluated and monitored, and breadth. Although not all of these areas have equal potential to improve program results, progress in each would advance CCSP objectives. Atmospheric Composition Good progress has been made in understanding the factors that alter atmospheric composition and how these alterations affect climate, humans, and ecosystems. Examples include much better knowledge of the direct and indirect effects of aerosols, air quality, and tropospheric ozone and the impacts of pollutants on human health. However, limiting factors still exist, and these could benefit from a stage 2 evaluation. For example, inclusion of aerosol interactions, including aerosol-cloud interactions, in coupled climate change models has been slow, and the CCSP may be able to im- prove this by fostering better coordination between observational, process modeling, and coupled model development groups. The CCSP has also not undertaken a coordinated effort to evaluate future scenarios of changes

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 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP in worldwide aerosol emissions, which is critical for projections of future climate, decision support systems, and policy actions. Climate Variability and Change Significant advances have been made in understanding the Earth’s climate system components, their interactions, their variability, and the mechanisms driving current changes. For example, the CCSP synthesis and assessment report on atmospheric temperature trends resolved the discrepancy between in situ balloon observations and satellite microwave observations and confirmed that tropospheric warming is consistent with surface warming (CCSP, 2006b). Likewise, observations of ocean heat content confirmed that the warming has penetrated to deeper layers of the ocean. Proxy records have expanded our knowledge of past abrupt climate changes, including the relationship between climate variability and droughts or wildfires. Improved understanding has led to state-of-the-art climate models that now reproduce many aspects of the climate of the past century, and simulations of the evolution of global surface temperature over the past millennium are consistent with paleoclimate reconstructions, thus improving confidence in future projections. However, progress in some key areas has been inadequate, and the second stage of evaluation might show why. Ice sheet dynamics remains a major uncertainty in future climate projections because of the need for longer observations and the development of more advanced models. Ob- servations are also insufficient to substantially advance understanding and modeling of cloud and aerosol processes. In addition, even the best models are deficient in their ability to represent extreme events (e.g., hurricanes, heat waves), abrupt climate changes, and smaller-scale (regional to local) processes. The CCSP does not have a coordinated strategy to collect and archive climate observations, and this may be slowing the understanding of some climate processes as well as the improvement of models that must be initialized with estimates of the observed state of the climate system. Finally, little information on climate variability and change is being used by resource managers and planners, perhaps because sufficient bridging or translating functions are not available. Water Cycle Understanding of the mechanisms that control water fluxes among the components of the Earth system has improved over the last several years. Good progress has been made in quantifying water fluxes and budgets from multiple data sources, and in understanding and modeling processes such

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 PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF CCSP PROGRESS as cloud formation, air-sea interaction, and land-atmosphere interaction. However, additional work needs to be done on feedbacks that cut across disparate physical processes (e.g., aerosol and moist processes; coupled wa- ter, energy, and carbon fluxes) and physical-human processes (e.g., account- ing for managed ecosystems and water transfers in climate models). Fair progress has been made on understanding long-term change and decadal variability, but future progress will require investments in sustained and global observing systems and in the development of robust coupled models. Progress toward understanding the consequences of water cycle variability for human societies and ecosystems has been inadequate, as has progress in understanding how information about such consequences can be used to inform decision making. A rigorous stage 2 evaluation of research activities related to water cycle questions 4 (consequences) and 5 (information) could reveal whether this assessment of progress is accurate and, if it is, whether inadequate progress to date reflects low agency priorities or poor interac- tion with relevant stakeholder communities. A stage 2 evaluation could also gauge whether a synthesis and assessment product targeted specifically at the water cycle might focus agency and community efforts in a way that spurs progress across the entire research element. Land Use and Land Cover Change Good progress has been made in the quantification and characteriza- tion of land use and land cover change. The availability of high-resolution (30 m) satellite data has enabled regional estimation of rates of land cover change. Improved understanding of the processes of change is enabling predictive modeling of future land cover changes. However, less progress has been made on the land use aspects of this research element. Areas that would benefit from a stage 2 evaluation include land use modeling and the societal impacts of land use and climate change and their interactions. Land use modeling is in its infancy, with social, economic, and biophysical processes only beginning to be incorporated. Researchers are just starting to quantify the impacts of land use change on climate and to understand the impacts of climate change on land use (e.g., on agriculture, forest, and rangeland distribution and productivity). The absence of a national review of land use models to guide the development of global, spatially explicit, dynamic land use models for integration with global climate models may be slowing progress in this area. Finally, considerable growth potential exists for research on climate and land use interactions. The inadequate progress to date likely reflects limited CCSP support for the social science aspects of land use and land cover change research and analysis.

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0 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP Carbon Cycle Good progress has been made in developing strategies for evaluating the spatial distribution of, and processes responsible for, current carbon sources and sinks. However, the fate of carbon dioxide from fossil fuels and land use emissions is still not completely determined. Thus, priorities for a stage 2 evaluation are the current carbon budget and our ability to predict and manage future CO2 levels. Major uncertainties remain in the magnitude and even the sign of the feedbacks between climate change and the distribution of carbon among atmosphere, ocean, and land reservoirs. Coupled carbon-climate models and observation networks emphasize seasonal-to-interannual variations in surface-atmosphere CO2 exchange, and areas of uncertainty for the feed- backs they address are well known. However, potentially critical processes are difficult to assess or predict given current understanding, including the role of disturbances (e.g., fire, pollutant deposition, vegetation change) in land carbon balance and the potential for changes in ocean ecosystems and thermohaline circulation to affect ocean carbon exchange. A stage 2 evalua- tion could focus on finding ways to balance process studies, data collection, and modeling that would yield the greatest improvements in predictions of future CO2 levels. Predicting how current land and ocean carbon sinks will behave in the future is a key area of uncertainty. However, the greatest uncertainty in predicting future atmospheric CO2 levels involves the choices that people make about energy, carbon management, and land use. Inadequate progress has been made in supplying scientific information to inform these choices, perhaps because social science investigations of human choices have not been incorporated into scenarios on which predictions are based. Ecosystems Good progress has been made in understanding the potential con- sequences of natural and anthropogenic climate change for ecosystems. Knowledge of carbon cycling processes has improved, and better estimates of carbon inventories in marine and terrestrial ecosystems have been made. High-quality integrated data sets have been acquired from satellite and in situ measurement programs, and long-term sites for measuring carbon have been established. Coupled ecosystem-climate models for marine and terrestrial systems have advanced as a result of improved understanding of carbon processes and advances in computation. However, progress has been inadequate in two key areas that would benefit from a stage 2 evaluation. First, quantitative understanding of potential feedbacks among ecosystem components, especially those that cross boundaries (e.g., land-ocean), may

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1 PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF CCSP PROGRESS be hindered by insufficient coordination among CCSP programs that focus on different parts of the marine and terrestrial ecosystem. A coordinated ef- fort to develop a carbon model that includes land, marine, and atmospheric components could also foster projections of future climate states and the de- velopment of management policies to deal with these future states. Second, the effects of climate change on marine and terrestrial ecosystems cannot yet be predicted reliably, perhaps because of shortcomings in coordinated community efforts, computational resources, and/or sustained measurement programs. Human Contributions and Responses Although some gains have been made in understanding stakeholder needs and characterizing the impact of uncertainty on decision making, overall progress has been inadequate given the breadth and depth of issues encompassed by the research questions. Achievements have been particu- larly insufficient regarding human drivers of ecosystem change; the nature, magnitude, and value of climate change impacts; and the cost of mitiga- tion and adaptation. These issues would benefit from a stage 2 evaluation because of their importance in preparing for and responding to climate change stressors. Inadequate progress may reflect the absence both of a conceptual framework to understand the diverse human-ecosystem inter- actions that work over time and of a research agenda to characterize and measure impacts, vulnerability, and adaptive capacity. These in turn depend in part on leadership to foster and coordinate research efforts across agen- cies. The United States risks lagging behind other developed countries in understanding these issues. OVERARCHING CONCLUSIONS Discovery science and understanding of the climate system are pro- ceeding well, but use of that knowledge to support decision making and to manage risks and opportunities of climate change is proceeding slowly. Good progress has been made in documenting climate changes and their anthropogenic influences and in understanding many aspects of how the Earth system works (e.g., aerosol direct forcing, glacier melting). Cou- pled ocean-atmosphere-land climate models have also improved, although models that enable exploration of feedbacks, assessment of human driving forces, or trade-offs of different resource management and mitigation op- tions are still relatively immature. The program has made a significant con- tribution to international climate research, particularly to Working Group 1

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2 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). CCSP research and the temperature trends report (CCSP, 2006b) have also played a role in the findings of the recently released IPCC (2007) report. In contrast, inadequate progress has been made in synthesizing research results, assessing impacts on human systems, or providing knowledge to support decision making and risk analysis. Reports on temperature trends (CCSP, 2006b) and scenarios of greenhouse gas emissions (CCSP, 2007) were the only CCSP synthesis and assessment products completed in the last four years; most synthesis activities have been small, focused, community efforts. A previous review of the CCSP strategic plan found that decision support activities were underdeveloped (NRC, 2004). The committee’s preliminary assessment of progress (Chapters 4 and 5) shows that decision support has been incorporated into some aspects of the ecosystems research element (i.e., management strategies that consider the effect of climate vari- ability on fisheries) and the human contributions and responses research element (e.g., Decision Making Under Uncertainty [DMUU] centers). How- ever, these programs are small, and decision support is treated primarily as a service activity, rather than a topic that requires fundamental research. As a result, decisions about climate and associated environmental change have had to be made without the benefit of a strong scientific underpinning. Progress in understanding and predicting climate change has improved more at global, continental, and ocean basin scales than at regional and local scales. The disparity in progress is partly a result of the site-specific nature of impacts and vulnerabilities and the much greater natural variability on smaller scales. For example, the interannual variability of surface tempera- ture is an order of magnitude greater on the scale of an individual town than the global average. It is these smaller spatial scales that are most rel- evant for state and local resource managers, policy makers, and the general public. Future projected land cover changes and changes in the distribution of continental water due to dams and irrigation, for example, are just begin- ning to be included in climate models. However, improving understanding of regional-scale climate processes and their impacts in North America would require improved integrated modeling, regional-scale observations, and the development of scenarios of climate change and impacts. Improved predictions of climate change at local levels should help the CCSP bridge the gap between science and decision making. Our understanding of the impact of climate changes on human well-be- ing and vulnerabilities is much less developed than our understanding of the natural climate system.

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 PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF CCSP PROGRESS The greatest progress in the CCSP has been made on basic climate science associated with overarching goals 1, 2, and 3 (although human driving forces have lagged) and the least has been made on the interac- tion of climate change with human systems (overarching goals 4 and 5). Improved progress toward overarching goals 4 and 5 will require stronger connections with the social science community and a more comprehen- sive and balanced research program. Indeed, a review of the draft CCSP strategic plan recommended accelerating efforts in human dimensions, economics, adaptation, and mitigation by strengthening science plans and institutional support (NRC, 2004). Yet only a small percentage of the CCSP research and observations budget is devoted to the human contributions and responses research element (Table 1.1), making it difficult to carry out even the limited research agenda outlined in the CCSP strategic plan. The bundling of human dimensions research and decision support tools further deemphasizes the importance of social science research and is detrimental to both parts of the program. Another reason for inadequate progress is that no agency has a pro- gram focused on the human dimensions of climate. A consequence is that expertise in the human dimensions of climate change is in short supply in the participating agencies, which in turn makes it difficult for the CCSP to exert leadership and forge the necessary links between these agencies and the academic social science community. The connections that the National Science Foundation established for its DMUU centers may provide a model for other CCSP social science research. Finally, the human dimensions research community is small and unorganized and thus may be unable to advocate effectively for changing program priorities. However, the good quality of work achieved with the low level of investment to date suggests that the community is capable of supporting a more substantial program. Science quality observation systems have fueled advances in climate change science and applications, but many existing and planned observ- ing systems have been cancelled, delayed, or degraded, which threatens future progress. Much of the progress in understanding the climate system has been fueled by the availability of a wide range of data (e.g., NRC, 1999, 2007). A rich resource of satellite and in situ observations has been collected, dis- seminated, and archived by agencies participating in the CCSP. However, the number and diversity of satellite observations are expected to diminish significantly with the cancellation or delay of several planned National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) satellite missions (e.g., Hydros, Global Precipitation Measurement mission, Landsat Data Continuity Mis-

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 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP sion, Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite Series-R) and the elimination of climate instruments from NPOESS. By the end of the decade the number of operating sensors and instruments on board NASA platforms is expected to decrease by approximately 40 percent (NRC, 2007). In ad- dition, a number of long-standing in situ networks (e.g., U.S. Geological Survey stream gauge network, U.S. Department of Agriculture Snowpack Telemetry snow observation system) are deteriorating, and planned carbon cycle field campaigns may be cancelled because of funding shortfalls. The anticipated decline in U.S. capability to monitor global- or regional-scale environmental changes and the degradation of climate data records that provide the baseline for measuring change will severely hamper future progress in climate change research. Indeed, the reduction in remote sens- ing capability is perhaps the single greatest threat to the future progress of the CCSP. Yet the CCSP has no strategy for implementing, sustaining, and evolving an observing system to address crucial questions on climate and related environmental changes (NRC, 2004). It is also not clear what role the CCSP might play in cooperating with other countries to obtain neces- sary data. This is particularly worrisome, given the IPCC (2007) prediction that the large warming trend of the last two decades will continue for at least the next few decades. Progress in communicating CCSP results and engaging stakeholders is inadequate. One of the most important differences between the CCSP and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is the increased emphasis on communicating research results to stakeholders and encouraging the use of science-based products to support decision makers. Indeed, using CCSP knowledge to manage risks and opportunities related to climate variability and change is an overarching goal of the program. However, a coherent communications strategy, informed by basic social science research, has not yet been developed. Most efforts to carry out the two-way dialogue envisioned in the CCSP strategic plan appear to be ad hoc and to rely more on communicating research results—especially to federal agencies and, to a lesser extent, the scientific community—than on hearing what others need from the program. NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program has been effective in communicating research results to stakehold- ers in particular sectors (e.g., impact of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability on water resources) or regions, but this program is small and has limited reach. Other efforts to identify and engage state and local officials, nongovernmental organizations, and the climate change technology com- munity are still in the early stages. Building and maintaining relationships with stakeholders is not easy and requires more resources in the CCSP

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5 PRELIMINARY ASSESSMENT OF CCSP PROGRESS Office and participating agencies than are currently available. Yet a well- developed list of stakeholders, target audiences, and their needs is essential for educating the public and informing decision making with scientifically based CCSP products. The separation of leadership and budget authority presents a serious obstacle to progress in the CCSP. A principle in Thinking Strategically (NRC, 2005) is that a leader with authority to direct resources and/or research effort is essential if the program is to succeed. However, the CCSP is an interagency program in which responsibility for program management and budget allocation is shared among the participating agencies. As a result, effective coordina- tion mechanisms are essential. Strong coordination at all levels of the program—within research questions, among closely related research ele- ments and cross-cutting issues, and across the program as a whole—can create new avenues of investigation and should enable the CCSP to achieve more than its participating agencies could accomplish alone. Advances in characterizing the carbon budget, for example, have been attributed in part to an active IWG and scientific steering committee, community-established implementation plans, and a long history of interagency cooperation on carbon cycle research projects (see Chapter 4). Established coordination mechanisms exist at both the component level (IWGs for research elements and cross-cutting issues; see Table 1.1 and Figure 2.1) and the program level (CCSP principals and program office). However, coordination of budgets has been less effective. In the early years of the USGCRP, the Office of Management and Budget worked closely with the program leadership to identify priorities and to commu- nicate those priorities to the relevant agency heads (NRC, 1999). CCSP budget allocations are coordinated to a much lesser extent today. Budgets are reported for major components of the CCSP (e.g., overarching goals, research elements), although this is primarily a post factum accounting ex- ercise, not a true allocation of funds to carry out the program. The CCSP director and agency principals have only a small budget over which they have discretionary control, and they must rely on persuasion rather than authority to allocate or prioritize funding across the agencies. For example, the CCSP appears to have had little influence either on the decisions taken to cancel or delay satellite missions or on what resources should be al- located to expand or upgrade in situ networks, despite the importance of observing systems to achieving CCSP objectives. Instead, these decisions are made by the respective agencies. Similarly, the interagency working groups have few discretionary funds and little authority to implement

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 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP the objectives that they define, unless these objectives coincide with their agency objectives. Even funding for the Climate Change Research Initia- tive is disbursed among agency programs. Such fragmented authority can only weaken coherent leadership and priority setting and slow progress in achieving the overall goals of the program.