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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change RESTRUCTURING FEDERAL CLIMATE RESEARCH TO MEET THE CHALLENGES OF CLIMATE CHANGE Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Division on Earth and Life Studies Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Award No. NNH07CC79B. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the view of the organizations or agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-13173-5 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-13173-1 Library of Congress Control Number: 2009923757 Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202) 334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet http://www.nap.edu. Cover: Designed by Van Nguyen. Copyright 2009 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America.
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Charles M. Vest is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change COMMITTEE ON STRATEGIC ADVICE ON THE U.S. CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE PROGRAM VEERABHADRAN RAMANATHAN, Chair, University of California, San Diego CHRISTOPHER O. JUSTICE, Vice Chair, University of Maryland JOHN B. CARBERRY, Carberry EnviroTech, Vero Beach, Florida ROBERT E. DICKINSON, University of Texas, Austin EILEEN E. HOFMANN, Old Dominion University, Norfolk, Virginia JAMES W. HURRELL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado JEANINE A. JONES, California Department of Water Resources, Sacramento ROGER E. KASPERSON, Clark University, Worcester, Massachusetts CHARLES D. KOLSTAD, University of California, Santa Barbara MARIA CARMEN LEMOS, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor PAOLA MALANOTTE-RIZZOLI, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON, Ohio State University, Columbus ARISTIDES A.N. PATRINOS, Synthetic Genomics, Inc., La Jolla, California GUIDO D. SALVUCCI, Boston University, Massachusetts SUSAN E. TRUMBORE, University of California, Irvine T. STEPHEN WITTRIG (through November 2008), BP, Naperville, Illinois National Academies Staff ANNE M. LINN, Study Director GREGORY H. SYMMES, Deputy Executive Director JARED P. ENO, Research Associate (from November 2007) JODI BOSTROM, Research Associate (until November 2007)
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Preface The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is developing a new strategic plan to replace the one that has guided federal research since 2003. The new strategic plan is expected to be released early in the next administration. There is thus an opportunity to step back, examine what has been learned, and chart a new course for the future. The National Research Council’s Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program was established to evaluate progress of the CCSP and to identify future priorities. Its first report, Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results (NRC, 2007c), drew the following conclusions about the progress of the CCSP: Discovery science and understanding of the climate system are proceeding well, but use of that knowledge to support decision making and to manage risks and opportunities of climate change is proceeding slowly Progress in understanding and predicting climate change has improved more at global, continental, and ocean basin scales than at regional and local scales
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Our understanding of the impact of climate changes on human well-being and vulnerabilities is much less developed than our understanding of the natural climate system Science quality observation systems have fueled advances in climate change science and applications, but many existing and planned observing systems have been cancelled, delayed, or degraded, which threatens future progress Progress in communicating CCSP results and engaging stakeholders is inadequate The separation of leadership and budget authority presents a serious obstacle to progress in the CCSP This is the second report and it identifies priorities for addressing these issues and for meeting new scientific and societal needs. To gather input and discuss the issues, the committee held five meetings and two major workshops. Most of the meetings were focused on particular issues, including priorities for CCSP components and for the program as a whole, and communicating scientific understanding for management and policy making. The first workshop focused on stakeholders and applied research, regional modeling, and data needed to support adaptation and mitigation in various sectors, climate policy, and national assessments (see Appendix F for the agenda and list of participants). The second workshop focused on basic natural and social science research, ways to balance competing priorities, and ways to make an interagency coordinated program work (Appendix F). The committee also solicited essays from colleagues. Of particular note are the comprehensive summaries of research priorities in the natural sciences and the human dimensions prepared by the chair and staff of the Committee on the Human Dimensions of Global Change and the Climate Research Committee (Appendixes D and E). The committee extends its thanks to those committees and especially to the chairs (Thomas Wilbanks and Antonio Busalacchi) and staff (Ian Kraucunas and Paul Stern). Other colleagues who contributed substantial material or helped the committee sort through ideas include Dan Brown, Michael Hanemann, David Skole, and Kirk Smith. The committee greatly appreciates their contributions.
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change The committee also thanks the many other individuals who gave presentations, led working group discussions, or provided other input to the committee: Rick Anthes, Peter Backlund, Roberta Balstad, Bruce Barkstrom, Jonathan Black, William Brennan, Dixon Butler, L. Greg Carbone, DeWayne Cecil, Javade Chaudhri, Eileen Claussen, Andrew Comrie, Kevin Cook, Lisa Dilling, George Eads, William Easterling, Jae Edmonds, Jack Fellows, Guido Franco, Sharon Hays, Issac Held, Anthony Janetos, Timothy Killeen, Chet Koblinsky, Martha Krebs, Kent Laborde, Dennis Lettenmaier, Ruby Leung, Roger Lukas, Alexander MacDonald, Linda Mearns, Susanne Moser, Jon Padgham, Adam Phillips, Roger Pielke Jr., Andrew Revkin, Sherwood Rowland, Jason Samenow, David Schimel, Stephen Schneider, Peter Schultz, Susan Solomon, Michael Stephens, Susan Tierney, Kevin Trenberth, Compton Tucker, Robert Waterman, Anne Watkins, and Julie Winkler. Finally, the committee chair, vice chair, and the entire committee express their deep gratitude to Anne Linn, the study director, and the other NRC staff for their outstanding work in organizing the workshops and preparing the report and guiding it through the review and publication process. V. Ramanathan, Chair C. Justice, Vice Chair
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Acknowledgments This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report: Richard A. Anthes, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado Robert H. Austin, Princeton University, New Jersey Edward A. Boyle, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge F. Stuart Chapin, University of Alaska, Fairbanks Grant Davis, Sonoma County Water Agency, Santa Rosa, California Mark Fahnestock, University of New Hampshire, Durham Margaret S. Leinen, Climos, Inc., Alexandria, Virginia
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Linda O. Mearns, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado M. Granger Morgan, Carnegie Mellon University, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania Susanne C. Moser, Susanne Moser Research & Consulting, Santa Cruz, California William D. Nordhaus, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Jonathan A. Patz, University of Wisconsin, Madison Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Kenneth H. Brink, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, and Marcia K. McNutt, Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Appointed by the National Research Council, they were responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 11 A Changing Context for Climate Research, 11 Committee Charge and Approach, 16 Organization of the Report, 19 2 RESTRUCTURING THE CLIMATE CHANGE SCIENCE PROGRAM 21 Extreme Weather and Climate Events and Disasters, 24 Sea Level Rise and Melting Ice, 34 Freshwater Availability, 39 Agriculture and Food Security, 50 Managing Ecosystems, 56 Human Health, 66 Impacts on the Economy of the United States, 74 Where Do We Go From Here? 82 3 FUTURE PRIORITIES 85 Climate Observations and Data, 87 Analysis of Earth System Data, 92 Earth System Modeling, 95
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Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change Human Dimensions of Climate and Global Change Research, 98 Decision Support, 102 National Assessment of Climate Impacts and Adaptation Options, 109 International Partnerships, 112 Top Priorities and Budget Implications, 115 REFERENCES 123 APPENDIXES A Examples of Bills with a Significant Climate Change Component Considered in the 110th Congress 149 B U.S. Climate Change Science Program 153 C Process for Identifying Priority Areas 159 D Fundamental Research Priorities to Improve the Understanding of Human Dimensions of Climate Change 167 E Research Priorities for Improving Our Understanding of the Natural Climate System and Climate Change 203 F Workshop Agendas and Participants 227 G Biographical Sketches of Committee Members 243 H Acronyms and Abbreviations 253