Click for next page ( 100


The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement



Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 99
5 Progress Toward the Cross-Cutting Issues A critical role of the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is to co- ordinate activities “to achieve results that no single agency, or small group of agencies, could attain” (CCSP, 2003, p. 3). Six cross-cutting issues—observations and monitoring, data management, modeling, decision support resources, communications, and international cooperation—lay the foundation for achieving this integration. Each of these cross-cuts is guided by an interagency working group (IWG), although some working groups handle two areas (Figure 1.2): decision support resources is combined with human contributions and responses, modeling is combined with climate variability and change, and data management is a subgroup of observations and monitoring. This chapter describes the committee’s preliminary assessment of prog- ress in the 22 goals of the CCSP cross-cutting issues. The assessment was based on analysis of the columns of the matrix used to evaluate the research questions (Chapter 4), as well as presentations by CCSP interagency work- ing groups, CCSP publications and web sites, and the scientific literature. Given the breadth and generality of these cross-cutting goals, it was difficult to assign meaningful scores. Thus, in most cases, only the commentary ap- pears below. OBSERVATIONS, MONITORING, AND DATA MANAGEMENT One of the four core approaches of the CCSP is “to enhance observa- tions and data management systems to generate a comprehensive set of vari- ables needed for climate related research” (CCSP, 2003). The overarching 

OCR for page 99
100 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP challenge is that the existing global observation system is an incomplete and distributed set of remote and in situ components, managed and operated by different agencies and international partners with different objectives (e.g., research, weather forecasting, resource management). Data derived from these observing systems are distributed and archived by multiple agencies, each with different information management systems. The need to collect social, economic, and health data to address the human dimensions aspects of the program adds an additional level of complexity because these data are outside the purview of agencies traditionally associated with climate measurements. Moreover, concerns about privacy bring unique challenges to the collection and dissemination of social science data. Finally, a global observing system enables the collection of long-term (century or longer) climate records while remaining sufficiently flexible to respond to changing observation needs as the science evolves. Several U.S. agencies are responsible for climate observations and data management. Total expenditures on observations and data management are unknown because climate observing programs of agencies other than the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are counted as research in the CCSP budget tables, and some of the operational systems which are also used for climate science are not counted at all. Neverthe- less, it is clear that observations account for a significant fraction of the total CCSP budget. The NASA space-based observations portion alone was one-third of the total CCSP budget in Fiscal Year 2006 (CCSP, 2006a) and more than half of the research element budget (Table 1.1). The program’s emphasis on satellite observations is proportional to this investment. The IWG on observations and monitoring provides both a forum to develop a consensus on the priority requirements for climate observations and a platform to advocate for resources to enable those climate observa- tions to be made. Individual federal agencies have their own advisory pro- cess for addressing observation and data management. External studies of these programs, especially NASA and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) programs, are common (e.g., NRC, 1998, 2000a- d, 2001a, 2003d, 2004b, e, 2005a, 2006c, 2007a). As a result, there has been no shortage of strategic thinking about climate observations and data management. Progress Toward the Observations and Monitoring Goals Investment in NASA’s Earth Observing System (EOS) in the 1990s has paid off during the tenure of the CCSP. Some recent highlights include the creation of science quality time-series data for the ocean, land, and atmo- sphere from the Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MO- DIS); estimates of trends in the Earth radiation budget from Clouds and the

OCR for page 99
101 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES Earth’s Radiant Energy System (CERES); new cryosphere and freshwater assessments from IceSat and the Gravity Recovery and Climate Experiment (GRACE); the first observations of variations across the full solar spectrum from the Solar Radiation and Climate Experiment (SORCE); new results on ozone, aerosols, and greenhouse gases from Aura; and the first global cloud and aerosol profile data from the Cloud-Aerosol Lidar and Infrared Pathfinder Satellite Observation (CALIPSO), which enabled new studies of aerosol sources and transport and aerosol-cloud interactions. New instru- ments on satellites flown by other agencies have also opened horizons, such as obtaining temperature profiles from radio occultation on the Global Positioning System (e.g., Leroy, 1999). In situ measurements are essential for all of the research elements, partly for studying processes or areas that cannot be studied from space (most notably in the oceans), and partly to provide ground truth for the satellite observations. Networks of in situ observations have been deployed to monitor conditions at the Earth’s surface and the rates of ocean-atmo- sphere and land-atmosphere energy exchanges. These networks are linked to international efforts to determine the budget of trace gas emissions and the role of oceans and terrestrial ecosystems in climate. Such activities of- ten contribute to more than one observations and monitoring goal, such as deploying observation components, integrating modeling activities, and fostering international cooperation. 12.1. Design, develop, deploy, integrate, and sustain observation compo- nents into a comprehensive system. A wide variety of satellite and in situ instruments have been deployed, but they are operated individually without the framework of a compre- hensive system. Operational satellite systems have been designed primar- ily to meet the needs of the National Weather Service and do not carry instruments capable of producing climate quality data records. In addi- tion, cancellations of instruments that were to make new climate measure- ments as part of the National Polar-orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) or to continue an unbroken time series (e.g., Landsat) threaten to reduce the overall observing capability of the United States and present a serious setback to CCSP science objectives (see Chapter 4). 12.2. Accelerate the development and deployment of observing and moni- toring elements needed for decision support. Data from operational satellite systems are routinely used to produce in- formation useful to decision makers, for example by the National Weather Service. NOAA, through its Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments

OCR for page 99
102 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP (RISA) projects, is developing procedures for improving the use of climate information in the decision-making process for a number of sectors. NASA’s Applied Sciences program is aimed at generating new information products from research satellite systems to meet the needs of decision makers. How- ever, NASA’s satellite sensors were designed primarily to meet scientific and technology demonstration objectives, and if observations and monitoring goal 12.2 is to be achieved, decision support requirements will have to be factored into the design of future satellite systems. CCSP plans envision observation networks that support priorities of decision makers, but the design and implementation of such networks requires coordination with non-scientist stakeholders who have yet to be identified. Finally, there is often no pathway to transition observation or information extraction and dissemination capabilities developed in the research domain into the opera- tional domain (NRC, 2003d). A broader community of operational users will have to be involved in the specification of future observation and data delivery systems. 12.. Provide stewardship of the observing system. This observation and monitoring goal concerns the use of climate monitoring principles and scientific oversight of algorithm development, instrument calibration, data processing, product validation, archiving, and distribution. Although general guidelines for stewardship have been devel- oped (NRC, 2004b), responsibility for following them is distributed among the agencies and no one body is charged with oversight of climate data. The success of individual agency efforts with respect to climate data stewardship has been reviewed in a number of National Research Council (NRC) studies (e.g., NRC, 2001b, 2005c, 2006b). Stewardship of the observing system is discussed in Chapter 4, which notes (1) that some in situ observing systems are degrading and others have not been expanded as proposed in science implementation plans, and (2) that some proposed satellite systems needed to extend the climate data record have been cancelled or delayed. 12.. Integrate modeling activities with the observing system. Integration of modeling with observation systems involves technologi- cal tools such as those that have been developed by the National Weather Service community. This integration has generated weather-related climate data as reanalysis products. Observations and monitoring goal 12.4 will be further advanced as progress is made in the development of algorithms for modeling other forms of time-varying climate parameters and relating them to corresponding observational data.

OCR for page 99
10 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES 12.5. Foster international cooperation to develop a complete global observ- ing system. A considerable amount of deliberation and coordination on climate observations has taken place at the international level. Coordinating bod- ies exist on different aspects of the climate observing system, including the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), the Global Ocean Observing System, and the Global Terrestrial Observing System. These groups have established principles for climate observation, developed observation re- quirements, and assessed the adequacy of available climate observations. All three groups have identified the essential climate variables needed to support the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (GCOS, 1997, 2003, 2006), and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites is assessing current capabilities to provide the satellite-derived essential climate variables. On a broader scale, the international Group on Earth Observations was established to develop a comprehensive framework to integrate a wide array of space and in situ observations. Steps are now being taken to develop the international Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS) through a series of tasks organized around nine areas of societal benefit, including understanding, assessing, predicting, mitigating, and adapting to climate variability and change.1 Although individual agencies participate in the international global observing systems, CCSP coordination with these international observing efforts has thus far been weak. The CCSP observations IWG is, however, developing metrics to evaluate and prioritize the contribution of U.S. satel- lite and in situ observations to GCOS, based on results of a workshop held in June 2006. Several CCSP managers also sit on committees and working groups to plan the U.S. contribution to GEOSS, but CCSP influence on international programs, and vice versa, remains limited. With increasing demands for Earth observations, delays in launching U.S. satellites, and the removal of a number of climate sensors from NPOESS, increasing attention will have to be paid to international cooperation. The role of the CCSP in this coordination has yet to be determined. 12.. Manage the observing system with an effective interagency structure. Of all the observations and monitoring goals the least progress has been made in developing an effective interagency structure for climate observations. The CCSP’s inability to influence the observing programs of its participating agencies is related partly to the absence to date of a clear 1 See .

OCR for page 99
10 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP articulation and prioritization of CCSP observation requirements (NRC, 2004c) and partly to the absence of funding authority. CCSP goals are clearly a consideration for the participating agencies, but they are largely secondary to agency goals. Progress Toward the Data Management Goals Good progress is being made on three of the four data management goals. 1.1. Collect and manage data in multiple locations. A host of NOAA, Department of Energy (DOE), and U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) environmental data centers have existed around the coun- try for decades (see list in NRC, 2003a), providing access to a wide range of satellite and in situ data to a wide range of users. As part of its Earth Observing System, NASA made a significant investment in data systems and technologies. The resulting Distributed Active Archive Centers, Sci- ence Computing Facilities, and specialized data projects are now providing access to unprecedented volumes of Earth science data, and peer-reviewed data products are being generated routinely for NASA’s systematic observa- tions (NRC, 2002b). These data are being reprocessed as improvements to calibration and algorithms are made, and data products are being system- atically validated and the associated validation data made available. 1.2. Enable users to discover and access data and information via the Internet. The Internet has revolutionized the way users find and obtain data. On- line access to data has increased dramatically, and a variety of tools are now available for manipulating and visualizing data (NRC, 2003a). Increases in computational capacity have enabled scientists to download and manage terabytes of data routinely in their own laboratories. Grid computing ap- proaches are also being developed to share computing resources and enable distributed data processing. The Global Change Master Directory provides a summary of data holdings, including climate indicators, which helps us- ers find distributed data holdings. Information on the CCSP is available through the Internet, although the CCSP web site is sparsely populated with information and difficult to navigate (see “Communications” below). 1.. Develop integrated information data products for scientists and deci- sion makers.

OCR for page 99
105 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES The emphasis to date has been on meeting the needs of the science community (e.g., NRC, 2002b, 2003c). Both NASA and NOAA are cur- rently supporting research and development to provide data products and services suited to the needs of operational users. Although most efforts have focused on preparing and delivering information suitable for use by scientists and agency managers, systems such as the National Integrated Drought Information System are beginning to be established for decision makers (NSTC, 2006). 1.. Preserve data. It is within the mission of both NOAA and USGS, but not NASA, to preserve data over the long term. In addition to its other archival systems, NOAA is developing the Comprehensive Large-array Stewardship System, which will provide access to data from satellite programs, including the Polar Operational Environmental Satellite and the Geostationary Opera- tions Environmental Satellite systems, the NPOESS Preparatory Project, and EOS. The CCSP has had little involvement in ensuring the long-term archive of climate-related data collected by participating agencies. Opportunities and Threats CCSP progress in prioritizing the climate observation requirements and developing and implementing an interagency strategy for securing the necessary long-term (century or longer) climate observations will be the ultimate measure of success of this part of the program. As long as multiple agencies are responsible for climate observations, interagency coordination will continue to be critical. The CCSP provides a structure for building consensus among the agencies, and it could be used more effectively to determine what should be done to secure the necessary climate observa- tions and to resolve other observation and data issues. With a decreasing budget for Earth observation in the United States, international cooperation and data exchange will become increasingly important. For example, the upcoming International Polar Year provides an opportunity for increased international coordination on polar observations. Different agency missions create obstacles to CCSP progress in securing climate observations. In particular, NOAA’s primary mission with respect to satellite observations is to meet the needs of the National Weather Service, which does not require climate observations. NASA does not undertake op- erational measurements, although some “systematic” measurements (e.g., from MODIS, Landsat, Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission) are made in support of climate change research. Now that NASA’s priorities are directed toward exploration, its climate budget is shrinking and the case

OCR for page 99
10 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP for long-term measurements has to be weighed against new instruments and technologies. The absence of a pathway and funding for transitioning observations from NASA research to NOAA operations raises serious con- cerns about the continuity of climate quality observations. Consistent long-term (multidecadal to century) observations are cru- cial, and long-term measurements from the polar-orbiting systems are of particular importance for the CCSP. It is unclear how effective the transi- tion of climate quality observations will be from MODIS, with its rigorous calibration and validation programs, to the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP) Visible Infrared Imager/Radiometer Suite (VIIRS) instrument. In this respect, it is important that the MODIS instruments not be decommissioned until after NPP VIIRS is launched and inter-comparison and calibration can be made. A number of other critical observations will not be extended. The cancelled NPOESS climate instruments would have continued measure- ments of top-of-atmosphere energy sources and sinks. No means have been proposed for extending current observations from SORCE and CERES. Finally, a break in data continuity also appears inevitable in the Landsat series (see Chapter 4). The CCSP is starting to bring these issues to the fore, highlighting the need for a mechanism to fill these critical data gaps. The CCSP could perform a similar role in clarifying the issues and supporting the necessary agency programs in the EOS-to-NPOESS transition and ex- tensions of other current observations. Upcoming validation experiments for Aura, Cloudsat, and CALIPSO provide opportunities for securing new climate quality measurements. NASA is also giving emphasis to the development of a suite of Earth science data records for climate and global change studies (NRC, 2004b). Similarly, NOAA is developing plans for generating climate data records from NPP and NPOESS VIIRS. It is important that the VIIRS instrument be calibrated to enable science quality products to be generated from the system designed to meet the needs of operational users, and that these products continue the climate data record developed from MODIS (NRC, 2000b). The CCSP could help ensure that the climate principles and priority observations are met by these initiatives and that there is effective coordination. Concerns also exist for the continuity of data from ground-based ob- servation networks, which are required to test conclusions based on remote observations. For example, data from atmospheric sampling networks are used to test the validity of results from the Orbiting Carbon Observatory satellite. However, research funds are not available to support the expan- sion of existing networks planned under several of the CCSP research ele- ments, and priorities for which networks receive other limited resources will likely be set at the agency level. Challenges in data management include securing and managing the long-term data archive (NRC, 2006b), coordinating development and dis-

OCR for page 99
10 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES tribution of climate data records, establishing consistent long-term data records across instruments (NRC, 2000b, c), and international data coor- dination. The latter could be undertaken in the framework of the emerging international GEOSS. Finally, data systems currently designed primarily to meet the needs of the science community will have to be augmented with systems that can provide climate-related information to decision makers. MODELING The CCSP strategic plan describes two complementary streams of cli- mate modeling activities. The first is fundamental research on climate pro- cesses operating in the atmosphere, ocean, land, and cryosphere required for model development through improved representation of climate processes. Climate process research also provides a framework for climate model experiments and for deciding which observations to analyze. Included, for instance, is basic research on the research elements described in Chapter 4, including chemistry and climate; aerosols; clouds and convection; the global carbon, nitrogen, water and energy cycles; ocean and atmospheric eddies; snow and ice; dynamic vegetation; and land cover and land use change. The second stream of work is the sustained and timely delivery of predic- tive model products that are required to support assessments and decision making. The intent of the CCSP is to maintain a productive partnership between product-driven modeling activities and the discovery-driven model- ing research program that will underpin its credibility and future success. Other types of models (e.g., economics, integrated assessments) are not included in this cross-cutting issue. Several of the most pressing scientific questions regarding the climate system and its response to natural and anthropogenic forcing cannot read- ily be addressed with traditional models of the physical climate. One of the open issues for near-term climate change, for example, is the response of terrestrial ecosystems to increased concentrations of carbon dioxide. Will soils release stored carbon dioxide to the atmosphere in a warmer climate, thereby acting as a positive feedback, or will vegetation absorb more car- bon dioxide and hence decelerate global warming? Exploration of this and other questions requires a more comprehensive treatment of the integrative Earth system as well as improved understanding of feedbacks derived from manipulations and long-term (decades to a century or longer) observations. Physical models, in particular, are being extended to include the interac- tions of climate with biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, ecosystems, glaciers and ice sheets, and anthropogenic environmental change.

OCR for page 99
10 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP Progress Toward the Modeling Goals Over the past few years, the CCSP has supported and initiated several activities that have significantly improved models for investigating and un- derstanding how the Earth system works and how it is affected by human actions. Yet many challenges remain, ranging from scientific uncertainties and questions on climate processes articulated in many of the CCSP re- search questions to the extensive computational demands required to build more comprehensive models. While the ultimate objective is a comprehen- sive Earth system model, constrained by observations, the complexity of Earth’s climate system will require the CCSP to focus on models that will aid in understanding the processes that maintain and regulate climate. The information produced by these models will be of limited use to the stake- holder community, however, until a research and applications infrastructure is developed that better involves stakeholders in developing new approaches for projecting impacts on society and ecosystems and in designing and implementing response options. As noted in NRC (2004c), such efforts are still in their formative stages. 10.l. Improve the scientific basis of climate and climate impacts models. Several notable CCSP-initiated successes have occurred in the arena of climate modeling. Significantly improved representations of physical processes, as well as increased resolution, characterize the latest generation of U.S. climate models (e.g., Collins et al., 2006; Delworth et al., 2006). New simulations of climate change during the twentieth and twenty-first centuries have been carried out using these models, and this output is a cen- terpiece of the fourth assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These simulations have increased the credibility of scientific conclusions on the causes of global surface warming witnessed over the past several decades. Various high-end modeling centers sponsored by DOE, NASA, NOAA, and the National Science Foundation (NSF) developed and tested the new U.S. models. All show significant improvements in the simulation of the physical climate system compared to their predecessors a decade ago (IPCC, 2007), although there is still a need to reduce systematic biases that plague coupled models, such as the biases associated with the double Inter-tropical Convergence Zone, errors in the simulated intrasea- sonal and interannual variability of the tropics, and various regional biases in simulated rainfall and surface temperature. The reduction of such biases becomes even more important as the complexity of the models increases, for example, through the introduction of dynamic vegetation parameters. Despite recent model improvements, however, significant uncertainties associated with various aspects of climate models remain. One of these

OCR for page 99
10 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES is the representation of clouds, which continues to be one of the weak- est links in modeling the physical climate system (IPCC, 2007). A climate process team (CPT) on cloud feedbacks has been formed to address this challenge by incorporating high-resolution satellite data, field observations, and small-scale cloud models. In addition, the Climate Change Prediction Program-Atmospheric Radiation Program Parameterization Testbed project is addressing the cloud modeling problem by first analyzing the ability of a climate model to accurately simulate weather events, diagnosing the er- rors, and subsequently improving the model. Other improvements are being made in understanding and modeling different components of the Earth system, including atmospheric chemistry, ecosystems, and carbon cycling, although many challenges remain, including integrating these capabilities into increasingly comprehensive Earth system models. 10.2. Provide the infrastructure and capacity necessary to support a scien- tifically rigorous and responsive U.S. climate modeling activity. U.S. climate modeling capability has advanced significantly in the last several years, fueled by improvements in software and understanding of physics. Resources for supercomputing are provided by NSF, NASA, DOE, and NOAA, and scientific requirements for, and the availability of, pet- ascale computing were analyzed in UCAR (2005). An extensive database of model output is archived and made accessible to interested climate researchers through an enabling technology (the Earth System Grid) and the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI). With CCSP support, the U.S. element of the Climate Variability and Predict- ability (CLIVAR) initiated the Climate Model Evaluation Project (CMEP) to increase community-wide diagnostic research into the quality of model simulations, leading to more robust evaluations of model predictions and a better quantification of uncertainty in projections of future climate. More than 400 CMEP analysis projects are currently registered at PCMDI, and more than 200 papers have resulted and been submitted to peer review journals (Meehl et al., 2007). Another success, again via the U.S. CLIVAR program, has been the development of CPTs, which gather observationalists, process modelers, and coupled climate modelers around specific issues or key uncertainties. They aim to link process-oriented research to modeling for the purpose of addressing key uncertainties in coupled climate models. A CPT effort on low-latitude cloud feedbacks was funded, and CPTs on gravity current en- trainment and eddy mixed layer interaction are working to improve major ocean models.

OCR for page 99
110 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP 10.. Coordinate and accelerate climate modeling activities and provide relevant decision support information on a timely basis. Output from the major U.S. climate models is available for the CCSP synthesis and assessment products and individual assessment research stud- ies. It also provided much of the modeling results on which the IPCC synthe- sis was based. However, the CCSP has not made any progress in facilitating communication between modelers and the applications community about what statistics would best serve the applications communities. Although there is considerable overlap in the requirements of these two communities, the provided output has been driven largely or entirely by research needs, rather than by support of assessments and decision making. Opportunities and Threats An overarching concern is that inadequate resources for computing power is limiting progress in several key modeling areas, including repre- sentation of extremes and accurate representations of key climate processes and feedbacks (NRC, 2005b; UCAR, 2005). Continued progress on climate science and decision support will require large amounts of high-perfor- mance computer time, petabyte mass storage capabilities, and appropriately balanced high-speed communications networks. Based on the IPCC fourth assessment modeling contributions, the United States will need at least a thirtyfold increase in high-performance computing resources within the next five years. Managing and sharing data and models pose significant technical challenges. Another concern is the lack of a national strategy for seasonal-to- interannual climate prediction, given the importance of predictions on these time scales to support climate services needed by a variety of stakeholders (NRC, 2005b). Routine, if not operational, seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts have been issued by a number of numerical weather prediction centers around the world since the close of the Tropical Ocean Global At- mosphere program in 1994. However, these have focused on the response to El-Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO)-induced signals emanating from the tropical Pacific basin (NRC, 1996; see also June 1998 special issue of Journal of Geophysical Research-Oceans). A rigorous assessment of the present capability of seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts in the United States has not been undertaken. The delivery of climate services also requires an enhanced regional climate modeling capability, and perhaps initialized climate forecasts out to decadal time scales (e.g., Hibbard et al., 2007) to improve understanding of climate change and impacts at spatial scales relevant to many stakeholders (NRC, 2005b). Some of these issues are beginning to be addressed through the concept

OCR for page 99
111 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES of the “seamless prediction paradigm,” which recognizes that the traditional boundaries between weather and climate are somewhat artificial and that fundamental barriers to advancing weather and climate prediction on time scales of days to years, as well as long-standing systematic errors in weather and climate models, are partly attributable to our limited understanding of and capability to simulate the complex, multiscale interactions intrinsic to atmospheric and oceanic fluid motions (WCRP, 2005). Several seamless pre- diction activities are under way, although all are still in their infancy. These efforts typically fall into one of the three categories: (1) using the IPCC class models for days-to-decades prediction; (2) using numerical weather predic- tion class models for seasons-to-decades prediction; or (3) developing very high resolution models with mesoscale processes explicitly resolved, either globally or by nesting high-resolution regional models within global climate models. Other approaches that attempt to blur the distinction between weather and climate are also emerging, such as beginning integrations with higher resolution to satisfy weather forecast requirements, then cascading down to lower-resolution versions of the model with consistent physical parameterization schemes. The potential benefits of a stronger research focus on the seamless paradigm include skill improvement in both weather and climate forecasts; stronger collaboration and shared knowledge among the weather and climate communities working on physical parameterization schemes, data assimilation schemes, and initialization methods; and shared infrastructure and technical capabilities. DECISION SUPPORT RESOURCES The CCSP strategic plan identifies three types of decision making that require decision support resources: (1) public discussion and planning based on state-of-science syntheses and assessments; (2) operational adaptive management decisions undertaken by managers of natural resources and built infrastructure (i.e., climate services applications); and (3) support for policy formulation. These cover the kinds of knowledge necessary to both mitigate and adapt to climate change, although they do not explicitly ac- count for the role of the private sector, especially business. Progress Toward the Decision Support Goals The overall objectives of the decision support resources cross-cutting issue appear to be sound. However, most of the reported activities follow a knowledge-driven model of interactions between science and society. This model focuses on identifying potential uses for existing observations, data, and research products, rather than defining a research agenda to support the three types of decision making. As a result, most efforts to date have

OCR for page 99
112 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP been skewed toward products that the CCSP research elements were al- ready developing. An exception is research programs in which stakeholder interaction is part of the research design, such as the RISAs and DMUU cen- ters. Although increasing the usefulness of research products is important, it should neither replace nor eclipse the need to engage in stakeholder-driven research, an expressed but not demonstrated priority of the CCSP. A 2004 NRC report recommended that the CCSP accelerate efforts in eight previously underemphasized areas, many of which concern meeting the needs of decision makers (e.g., human dimensions, economics, impacts, adaptation, mitigation). The report also calls for further development of decision support activities to meet the needs of local, regional, national, and international stakeholders (NRC, 2004c). However, progress toward achieving the CCSP decision support goals has been inadequate. Indeed, a bill introduced in Congress in February 2007 (HR 907) notes that the U.S. Global Change Research Program “has not produced sufficient information to meet the expressed needs of decision makers.” 11.1. Prepare scientific syntheses and assessments to support informed dis- cussion of climate variability and change and associated issues by decision makers, stakeholders, the media, and the general public. Progress has been inadequate on the 21 CCSP synthesis and assessment products, and at the time of writing only two have been completed (see Appendix A). However, the content of these reports (CCSP, 2006b, 2007c) and the scientific effort required to carry them out provided a fundamental contribution to current national and international assessment of what is being observed as climate change. Three of the synthesis and assessment products will be aimed at decision support. The focus of products 5.1 and 5.3 is primarily to understand how currently available knowledge and in- formation, such as seasonal climate forecasts or NASA observational data, can be made available and useful to managers and other stakeholders. These products also report early findings of application projects. Product 5.2 focuses on decision making under uncertainty. A National Research Council review of the latter found that the draft report contains useful information for researchers, but does not address the needs of all the speci- fied audiences, including policy and decision makers, and misses some best practice approaches for characterizing, incorporating, and communicating uncertainty (NRC, 2007c). The review recommends that CCSP assessment product 5.2 be substantially revised to address these and other issues. Scientific syntheses of specific topics have also been developed by some of the CCSP research elements. These range from data compilations (e.g., forest management and carbon fluxes) to model predictions (e.g., predic- tions of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability or subdecadal climate

OCR for page 99
11 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES variability, such as ENSO) (see Chapter 4). However, the research elements are targeted primarily toward answering science questions rather than in- forming policy and management. As a result, the potential stakeholders are largely unknown and only a few groups are using research results for deci- sion support. The CCSP held a stakeholder workshop in November 2005 (CCSP, 2005a), but it is not clear how information and feedback obtained from that workshop helped refine the decision support research agenda. 11.2. Develop resources to support adaptive management and planning for responding to climate variability and climate change, and transition these resources from research to operational application. Adaptive management is a governance mechanism used to shape miti- gation and adaptation to climate change. However, adaptive management is not carefully defined in the CCSP strategic plan, and the activities reported in Our Changing Planet seem not to consider the scholarly literature on its many facets, strengths, and limitations (e.g., Holling, 1978; Gunderson and Holling, 2002; Arvai et al., 2006). Understanding how adaptive man- agement works is as important as producing tools to support it. Moreover, although the dynamic and integrative (i.e., across disciplines and across the science-policy divide) dimensions of adaptive management are covered in the CCSP strategic plan, in practice these dimensions are not being fully realized. Judging from the highlighted accomplishments reported in Our Changing Planet, the emphasis is more on the design of decision support systems based on currently available research and less on understanding their transfer and use in adaptive management. Examples include a model to forecast mosquito abundance and estimate the risk of encephalitis in- fection, a tool for visualizing carbon sinks and CO2 fluctuations in U.S. ecosystems, and improvements in observation, monitoring, and prediction capabilities of the National Integrated Drought Information System (CCSP, 2006a). Although the RISA program and DMUU centers have explored interactions between knowledge producers and users in the context of managing natural resources and response to climate variability and change (Chapter 4), these programs correspond to a very small fraction of the deci- sion support budget (Appendix B). Ecosystems is the only research element that has made progress on adaptive management (Chapter 4). For example, climate variability is an explicit factor in decisions about fisheries management, and adaptive man- agement strategies are also beginning to be put in place for forestry and are supported by an infrastructure that includes scientific inputs on climate variability. Greenhouse gas emissions from various agricultural or forestry practices have been investigated, but these are not yet widely considered in

OCR for page 99
11 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP land management decisions. Some activities, such as nascent carbon mar- kets, are emerging without CCSP involvement or input. The largest activity in the transition from research to operational ap- plications is NASA’s Applied Sciences program, which has an annual budget of about $90 million (Appendix B). NASA, along with partner federal agen- cies, is working to integrate its spacecraft observations and model outputs into decision-making tools in 12 application areas: agricultural efficiency, air quality, aviation, carbon management, coastal management, disaster management, ecological forecasting, energy management, homeland se- curity, invasive species, public health, and water management. An NRC review of the program’s approach and results is expected in 2007. Other agencies also have programs intended to make practical use of research results (e.g., NOAA’s Climate Test Bed), but they are generally not tied to the CCSP research questions. 11.. Develop and evaluate methods (scenario evaluations, integrated analyses, and alternative analytical approaches) to support climate change policy making and demonstrate these methods with case studies. Our Changing Planet lists several examples of efforts to develop meth- ods and tools to support policy making, such as alternative incentive de- signs for practices to increase soil carbon levels (CCSP, 2005b) and if/then analyses of the potential effects of cap-and-trade policies (CCSP, 2006a). Especially promising is the development of integrated models that explore the feedbacks between coupled human-environment systems (e.g., research funded under NSF’s Biocomplexity and Human and Social Dynamics pro- grams). However, the total effort reported appears small compared to the potential demand among policy makers and stakeholders in the private sector (e.g., Western Governors’ Association, 2006). Opportunities and Threats The CCSP’s emphasis on the development of decision support tools is an important step toward supporting policy and management decisions in both the public and the private sectors. However, the research community focusing on decision support is small. To achieve the potential of this cross- cutting issue, the community will have to be built and sustained so that de- cision support activities can be expanded across the social sciences. Without adequate support, the field not only will stagnate but actually could regress at a time when the need for its input will be the highest. The human contributions and responses research element has the po- tential to inform the decision support resources cross-cutting issue (1) by fostering social science to substantiate the creation of decision support tools

OCR for page 99
115 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES and (2) by transferring knowledge that can support decision making. How- ever, the combined management of the human contributions and responses research element and the decision support cross-cutting issue has made it more difficult to assess whether the decision support goals are being met and where critical gaps lay (see Chapter 4). A separation of the two, as envisioned in the CCSP strategic plan, would help ensure that each receives appropriate attention from the program. COMMUNICATIONS The Global Change Research Act of 1990 calls for the production of “information readily usable by policymakers attempting to formulate ef- fective strategies for preventing, mitigating, and adapting to the effects of global change.”2 The communications chapter of the CCSP strategic plan focuses on transparent development of research plans and reports and two- way communication with a broad spectrum of stakeholders (CCSP, 2003). The plan recognizes that research findings are generally well reported in the scientific literature, but that relevant aspects of the findings have to be reported in formats suitable for use by diverse audiences. A comprehensive communications plan was to be developed by the end of 2003. The CCSP communicates with stakeholders through peer-reviewed scientific literature, the CCSP web sites,3 the news media, and outreach materials. The latter three are aimed at audiences with varying levels of understanding about climate change. In addition, the CCSP produces an annual report for Congress (Our Changing Planet), which is intended to be “the authoritative guide to ongoing climate science research by federal agencies” (CCSP, 2003, p. 154). Progress Toward Communications Goals Well-thought-out intentions expressed in the CCSP strategic plan have not yet been translated into implementation. The CCSP has neither pre- pared a comprehensive communications plan nor developed processes for effective delivery of relevant information and engagement of stakeholders. As a result, inadequate progress has been made toward achieving the two closely related communications goals: 2 104 Stat. 3096-3104. 3 The family of CCSP web sites includes sites for the CCSP, the U.S. Global Change Research Program, and the U.S. Global Change Research Information office, all of which can be ac- cessed through .

OCR for page 99
11 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP 1. Disseminate the results of CCSP activities credibly and effectively. 2. Make CCSP science findings and products easily available to a diverse set of audiences. Communications activities to date have focused on publishing Our Changing Planet, maintaining and preparing content (e.g., fact sheets) for the CCSP web sites, and facilitating a 2005 workshop on decision support (CCSP, 2006a). The CCSP program office has also prepared one internal annual implementation plan and is working on another, and it is assisting CCSP agencies with their public comment processes for pending synthesis and assessment reports (Nick Sundt, personal communication, January 9, 2007). The CCSP has not prepared a comprehensive communications plan with “specific benchmarks and time tables to allow tracking of the plan’s progress.” (CCSP, 2003, p. 155). Also missing is any substantive effort to implement basic communications protocols commonly used by indus- try and by government agencies that would accompany a comprehensive plan—such as identifying key audiences (stakeholders in relevant sectors), the information needed by those audiences, and appropriate information delivery methodologies—as well as social science research that would in- form development of a robust communications strategy. Identification of key audiences is not trivial, as experience from the U.S. national assessment and RISA programs showed, but it provides the foundation for framing many aspects of decision support (NRC, 2004c). Examples of federal agency communications strategies are widely avail- able (e.g., Griffith and McCullough, 1990; Pedigo et al., 2005), as are best practices in scientific communication (e.g., Borchelt, 2001). The CCSP also received substantial input on communications via comments on its draft strategic plan (NRC, 2003b) and its 2005 stakeholder workshop (CCSP, 2005a). The NRC (2004c) review of the CCSP strategic plan noted that the program’s increased emphasis on decision support and stakeholder com- munication would require increased staffing in the CCSP office to support this workload. Some CCSP programs have succeeded in engaging stakeholders on cli- mate issues. For example, NOAA’s RISA program has done a commendable job serving as a bridge between scientists and end users, such as water or wildfire managers (see “Human Contributions and Responses to Environ- mental Change” in Chapter 4; Western States Water Council, 2007). How- ever, even some CCSP agencies with strong involvement from stakeholders have not always succeeded in communicating information on climate. For example, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) conducted an exten- sive, well-organized outreach program pertaining to reauthorization of the 2007 Farm Bill, an omnibus act that funds most USDA activities, includ-

OCR for page 99
11 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES ing the agency’s role in CCSP, and is of high importance to stakeholders. Review of the public comments received by USDA in its outreach program reveals a dearth of stakeholder engagement on CCSP.4 The program as a whole is failing to reach stakeholders in a comprehensive way at a time when stakeholder participation in natural resources and environmental planning processes is becoming commonplace in programs of other federal agencies (Pahl-Wostl, 2002; NRC, 2004a). Opportunities and Threats Many aspects of CCSP research would be useful to diverse stakehold- ers if they were made aware of the information or of the program itself. However, the program as a whole lacks resources and a process for com- municating with the broader set of stakeholders. Two-way dialogue is im- portant for ensuring that CCSP products are relevant to end users (NRC, 1999; 2004c) and is a requirement of the federal climate program’s enabling legislation. The absence of two-way dialogue is a shortcoming of current federal climate services (Miles et al., 2006). The current agency culture of developing products that it hopes stakeholders will use (the “loading dock” model; see Dilling, 2007b, and references therein) illustrates the need for strong program leadership to manage external communications and engage stakeholders. The CCSP’s web site displays a level of development that might be ex- pected from a newly established program, not one that has been in existence for several years. Content is sparse relative to the breadth of the program, often organized randomly, and spread across three separate web sites. A reorganization of the information into a single web site would significantly ease searches for program information. Posting additional content (e.g., abstracts of papers published with CCSP support) would also make the web site a more useful resource. Federal agency guidelines for using the web as a communications tool (e.g., HHS, 2003) could provide a useful resource for improving the CCSP web site. The planned synthesis and assessment products should improve CCSP communications by providing content for dissemination. However, although the CCSP web site provides both the status of synthesis and assessment products and a mechanism for providing public comment, few stakehold- ers have been engaged in reviewing the draft prospectuses or reports (Nick Sundt, personal communication, January 9, 2007). Substantial effort will be required to raise stakeholder awareness of and participation in these products. 4 See.

OCR for page 99
11 EVALUATING PROGRESS OF THE U.S. CCSP Only two staff are responsible for communications at the program level (Nick Sundt, personal communication, January 9, 2007). With this alloca- tion, the program office cannot be expected to handle daily housekeeping tasks—maintaining web sites, responding to press inquiries, and coordinat- ing public review of synthesis and assessment products—and develop and implement meaningful outreach strategies for diverse audiences. INTERNATIONAL COOPERATION Global climate change science is advanced through contributions from many countries. With only U.S. agency and CCSP programs, our under- standing and characterization of climate change would not be nearly as advanced as it is. It would be virtually impossible to observe with adequate detail the changing climate without an important web of international collaborations. Furthermore, the United States by itself would not be able to control the growth of greenhouse gases by as much as will likely be necessary. Fortunately, many other countries support climate research, and international coordination with these countries can avoid considerable duplication of effort. The CCSP goals on international cooperation are the following: • Actively promote and encourage cooperation between U.S. scien- tists and scientific institutions and agencies and their counterparts around the globe so that they can aggregate the scientific and financial resources necessary to undertake research on change at all relevant scales, including both the regional and the global. • Expand observing systems in order to provide global observational coverage of change in the atmosphere and oceans and on land, especially as needed to underpin the research effort. • Ensure that the data collected are of the highest quality possible and suitable for both research and forecasting, and that these data are ex- changed and archived on a timely and effective basis among all interested scientists and end users. • Support development of scientific capabilities and the application of results in developing countries in order to promote the fullest possible participation by scientists and scientific institutions in these countries in the above research, observational, and data management efforts. It is difficult to review progress in scientific coordination. Neverthe- less, it is clear that some of the most effective coordination is done by international programs, such as the World Climate Research Programme, the International Human Dimensions Programme, and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. These programs have sponsored a host of

OCR for page 99
11 PROGRESS TOWARD THE CROSS-CUTTING ISSUES international conferences and published numerous strategic and implemen- tation plans. The most effective coordination of international assessment activities has been that of the IPCC, which has had strong contributions from U.S. scientists and agencies through the CCSP. Agencies participating in the CCSP contribute much to international collaborative activities, through the participation of individual scientists and, in some cases, through provision of funding to support international program offices. The CCSP’s international IWG is tasked to coordinate between the CCSP and international activities, but the committee did not see much visible impact of this coordination. For example, the IWG coor- dinated a large number of bilateral arrangements (e.g., the United States and Japan have approximately 100 ongoing bilateral projects),5 but it is not clear how these arrangements facilitated advancement of the CCSP international cooperation goals. A fully effective CCSP would be expected to have a major facilitating role in connecting U.S. climate research to that of the rest of the world beyond what has already been achieved by its par- ticipating agencies. 5 Presentation from Jonathan Padgham, U.S. Agency for International Development and international IWG, on March 20, 2007.

OCR for page 99