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1 Introduction In the past few years, global environmental change has increasingly taken a central place on the stage of national and international policy discussions. In many cases, however, the scientific information that forms the basis of discussions about far-reaching policies to mitigate or adapt to change is uncertain and incomplete. Decisions on energy policies to curtail emissions of greenhouse gases, for example, or decisions to expend funds to adapt to possible changes in the global environment, must rest on a scientific under- standing of the earth system that is only beginning to emerge. Global environmental change encompasses many facets. The environ- ment is undergoing significant alterations as a result of human activities superimposed on the natural variability of the earth system. The "green- house effect" and consequent climatic change are currently of great concern to the public. Other changes in the global environment include depletion of stratospheric ozone, deforestation, acid deposition, as well as other as yet undetected and unanticipated changes. The scientific understanding of each of these manifestations of global change hinges on the ability to understand the total earth system and the interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land, and biota including humans. While global change has been the topic of high-level policy discussions, it has also become the focus of increasingly active planning for scientific programs. Internationally, the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP) and the ongoing World Climate Research Program (WCRP) consti- tute closely interrelated and mutually complementary efforts focusing, re- spectively, on the biological-chemical and the physical-dynamic aspects of long-term global environmental change. The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates the U.S. contributions to these interna- tional programs. Together, these efforts aim toward understanding the earth 9
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10 RESEARCH STRATEGIES FOR THE USGCRP system in order to improve our predictive capabilities of global environ- mental change and thus to provide a foundation for sound policy decisions. THE U.S. GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH PROGRAM The U.S. Global Change Research Program, initiated in fiscal year 1990, represents the U.S. federal government's scientific effort to understand, monitor, and predict global change. The USGCRP is an interdisciplinary program coordinated across many federal agencies and is designed to (CES, 1989a,b, 1990) gain an adequate predictive understanding of the interactive physical, geologi cal, chemical, biological, and social processes that regulate the total earth system and, hence establish the scientific basis for national and international policy formulation and decisions relating natural and human-induced changes In the global env~onrnent and their regional impacts. It operates under the Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engi- neering, and Technology (FCCSET) Committee on Earth and Environmen- tal Sciences (formerly the Committee on Earth Sciences) with the advice of the Committee on Global Change and other units of the National Research Council. The overarching scientific objectives of the program are to establish an integrated, comprehensive long-term program of documenting the earth sys- tem on a global scale; conduct a program of focused studies to improve our understanding of the physical, geological, chemical, biological, and social processes that influence earth system processes and trends on global and regional scales; and develop integrated conceptual and predictive earth sys- tem models. To meet these objectives, the plan for the USGCRP currently embodies seven interdisciplinary science elements (CES, 1989b): Climate and hydrological systems. The examination of the physical processes that govern physical climate and the hydrological cycle, including interactions between the atmosphere, hydrosphere (i.e., oceans, surface and ground water, clouds, and so on), cryosphere, land surface, and biosphere. · Biogeochemical dynamics. The study of the sources, sinks, fluxes, trends, and interactions involving the mobile biogeochemical constituents within the earth system, including human activities, with a focus on carbon, nitrogen, sulfur, oxygen, phosphorus, and the halogens. Ecological systems and dynamics. The investigation of the responses of ecological systems, both marine and terrestrial, to changes in global and regional environmental conditions and of the influence of biological com- munities on the atmospheric, terrestrial, oceanic, and climate systems. · Earth system history. The uncovering and interpretation of the natural records of past environmental change that are contained in terrestrial and
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INTRODUCTION 11 marine sediments, soils, glaciers and permafrost, tree rings, rocks, geomor- phic features, and other direct or proxy documentation of past global condi- tions. Human interactions. The study of (1) the social factors that influence the global environment, including population growth, industrialization, ag- ricultural practices, and other land usages, and (2) the human activities that are affected by regional aspects of global change. · Solid earth processes. The study of geological processes (e.g., volca- nic eruptions and erosion) that affect the global environment, especially those processes that take place at the interfaces between the earth's surface and the atmosphere, hydrosphere, cryosphere, and biosphere. · Solar influences. The investigation of how changes in the near-space and the upper atmosphere that are induced by variability in solar output influence the earth's environment. The U.S. President's budget for fiscal year 1991 proposed a budget of over $1 billion for this program, with the participation of seven federal agencies. INTERNATIONAL PROGRAMS: IGBP AND WCRP Internationally, scientific research on global change is being undertaken principally under the auspices of two complementary scientific programs- the IGBP, of the International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU), and the WCRP, which is jointly carried out under the auspices of the World Meteo- rological Organization (WMO) and ICSU. The IGBP was formally adopted by ICSU in 1986 with the objective to (ICSU, 1986) describe alla understand the interactive physical, chemical, aIld biological processes that regulate the total earth system, the unique environment that it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the marmer in which they are influenced by human activities. Priority in the IGBP falls on Pose areas of each of the fields involved that deal with the key interactions and significant change on time scales of decades to centuries, that most affect the biosphere, that are most susceptible to human perturbation, and Hat most likely lead to predictive capability. Since 1986, ICSU's Special Committee for the IGBP has developed sev- eral operational components of the program. These core projects include the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) program, address- ing the important interactions between the terrestrial and marine biospheres and the atmosphere; the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), address
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12 RESEARCH STRATEGIES FOR THE USGCRP ing the fluxes of carbon and associated biogenic elements in the ocean and the exchanges with the atmosphere, the sea floor, and the continental boundaries; Past Global Changes (PAGES), aiming to improve understanding of the history of the earth system over the past 2,000 years and the dynamics that caused glacial-interglacial variations in the late Quaternary epoch; the bio- spheric aspects of the hydrological cycle; terrestrial systems and global change; and data and information needs. Other core projects focusing on such issues as coastal zones and earth system models are currently being developed (IGBP, in preparation). The World Climate Program was established by WMO in 1979, on the basis of extended studies by expert panels of its executive committee and the deliberations of the First World Climate Conference. The program has four major components, dealing with data, applications, the study of im- pacts, and research. The last of these, the WCRP, builds directly upon the scientific and institutional framework of the highly successful Global At- mospheric Research Program (GARP). Like GARP, it is conducted as a joint enterprise of WMO and the nongovernmental ICSU. The major objectives of the WCRP are to determine · to what extent climate can be predicted and · the extent of man's influence on climate. To this end, the WCRP initiates studies of regional and global climate, climate variability, and mechanisms; assesses significant trends; develops physical-mathematical models; and investigates the sensitivity of climate to natural and human stimuli. Planning currently considers three principal streams of activity dealing with various time scales: monthly/seasonal; seasonal/interannual; and long-term climate sensitivity and change over de- cades to centuries. Within this framework, a number of projects of varying degrees of rel- evance to the global change effort are being planned or implemented. Among these are the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), the Tropical Ocean and Global Atmosphere (TOGA) program, the Global Precipitation Climatology Project, the International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project, the International Satellite Land Surface Climatology Project, and the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX). OBJECTIVES AND ORGANIZATION OF THIS REPORT This report recommends a number of initiatives for achieving the goals and objectives of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. Specifically, the report elaborates on the scientific needs for developing integrated earth system models, conducting focused studies to improve understanding of
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INTRODUCTION 13 global change, and documenting global change. The recommended focused studies, previously identified by the Committee on Global Change (NRC, 1988), constitute the initial priorities for the U.S. contributions to the IGBP. The report is not intended to provide a comprehensive view of all the scientific priorities for the USGCRP. Rather, it represents a contribution to the full suite of scientific planning documents for global change research, including reports of the interagency Committee on Earth Sciences (CES, 1989a,b, 1990), the World Climate Research Program (WCRP, 1990), and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (1986, 1988, in prepara- tion). In chapter 2 of this report, the committee addresses the scientific needs that must be met to develop integrated conceptual and predictive models of the earth system. Chapters 3 through 7 address the objective of the USGCRP to develop focused studies to improve understanding of earth system pro- cesses, and recommend specific research initiatives in five areas that should be given priority attention. These initiatives focus on the interdisciplinary research required to improve understanding of the interactions between the oceans, atmosphere, land, and human activities, and assume effective sup- port for more disciplinary-oriented research to further understanding for relevant processes. In chapter 8, the committee recommends specific ef- forts to establish an integrated, comprehensive long-term program of docu- menting the earth system on a global scale. The interdisciplinary initiatives recommended for priority attention and discussed in chapters 3 through 7 are as follows: earth system history and modeling to document changes in atmospheric composition, climate, and human activities to improve and validate models of global change. · human interactions with the geosphere-biosphere to analyze changes in human land use, energy use, and industrial processes that drive changes in the earth system. water-energy-vegetation interactions to develop global models of the response of terrestrial ecosystems to changes in climate, land, and water use and to determine the reciprocal effects of such changes in terrestrial ecosys- tems on the climate system on regional and global scales. · fluxes of materials from terrestrial ecosystems to improve understand- ing of the processes most important for determining fluxes of radiatively active gases between the land and the atmosphere, in order to predict how changes in climate and land use alter gas emissions, and to improve under- standing of the effects of land use changes on nutrient transfer to river, estuarine, and ocean systems. biogeochemical dynamics in the ocean interactions with climate in order to predict effects of climatic change on oceanic biogeochemical cycles
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14 RESEARCH STRATEGIES FOR THE USGCRP and the interactions of such cycles with climate via tl~^ release and absorp- tion of radiatively active gases. Each of these inii~ai~ves includes process studies, modeling efforts, and data collection relevant to the particular issues under study. Figure 1.1 shows the relationship between the initiatives recommended in this report, He elements of the USGCRP, and projects of the IGBP and ICSU International Geosphere - Biosphere Program Coordinating Committee on Global Elements of the World Climate Panels, Working Groups, Change Recommended U. S. . Global Change Research Program & Scientific Steering Initial Foci Research Program Streams Committees | Global Geosphere |Biosphere Modeling ~| System Models l | Data Management ~ L| Earth System l | Information Systems | I Measurements Earth System Measurements & Data | Global Changes of :|Earth System |the Past history & Modeling Terrestrial Biosphere - Atmosphere Chemistry Interactions ~ _ J _ | Marine Biosphere - L |Atmosphere Interactions r | Biospheric Aspects of L | the Hydrological Cycle ~7 l Effects of Climatic Change on Terrestrial Ecosystems | Geosphere-Biosphere | I Observatories l Stream I: Monthly/Seasonal Time Scale Stream II: Seasonal/Interannual (Tropical Ocean Global Atmosphere) Terrestrial Trace Gases & Nutrient Fluxes Biogeochemical Dynamics in the Ocean by I Human Interactions Biogeochemical | \ / Dynamics | _~ -/ Water- Energy- / Climate and Vegetation ~Hydrological _ Interactions Systems Ecological Systems & Dynamics it_ Interactions _ | Solid Earth | | Processes l Solar Inf luences Stream III: Decades to Centuries (World Ocean Circula- tion Experiment, Global Energy Water Experiment ) FIGURE 1.1 Relationships of scientific themes for research programs on global change.
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INTRODUCTION 15 WCRP. The initiatives recommended in this report should be viewed in the context of the full suite of scientific invesi~gai'ons required by the USGCRP. Thus the recommendations presume the effective support of global change investigations across a broad spectrum including physical climate and hy- drological systems, solid earth processes, and solar influences. As scien- tific understanding evolves, new priorities will emerge and be refined and incorporated into specific projects. REFERENCES Committee on Earth Sciences (CES). 1989a. Our Changing Planet: A U.S. Strategy for Global Change Research. Federal Coordinating Council for Science, En- gineering, and Technology. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Wash- ington, D.C. Committee on Earth Sciences (CES). 1989b. Our Changing Planet The FY 1990 Research Plan. Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C. Committee on Earth Sciences (CES). 1990. Our Changing Planet: The FY 1991 U.S. Global Change Research Program. Federal Coordinating Council for Science, Engineering, and Technology. Office of Science and Technology Policy, Washington, D.C. International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU>. 1986. The International Geosphere- Biosphere Program: A Study of Global Change. Report No. 1. Final report of the Ad Hoc Planning Group. ICSU Twenty-first General Assembly, Sept. 14-19, 1986, Bern, Switzerland. International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). 1988. The International Geosphere- Biosphere Program: A Study of Global Change. A Plan for Action. A report prepared by the Special Committee for the IGBP for discussion at the First Meeting of the Scientific Advisory Council for the IGBP, Oct. 1988, Stockholm, Sweden. Rep. 4. IGBP Secretariat, Stockholm. Intemational Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP). 1990. The Initial Core Projects. Report to the Second Scientific Advisory Council for the IGBP. In preparation. National Research Council (NRC). 1988. Toward an Understanding of Global Change: Initial Priorities for U.S. Contributions to the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program. National Academy Press, Washington, D.C. World Climate Research Program. 1990. Global Climate Change: A Scientific Re- view. Presented by the World Climate Research Program. World Meteoro- logical Organization and International Council of Scientific Unions.
Representative terms from entire chapter: