• outline a research strategy to fill the critical knowledge gaps.

A committee of 11 members was appointed from the paleoclimate, climate modeling, and observational climate communities, including those investigating the cryosphere, atmosphere, ocean, and terrestrial systems. To help to focus priorities in abrupt climate change research, representatives of the economic and social science research communities were also part of the committee. Oversight for the committee was provided jointly by the Ocean Studies Board, the Polar Research Board, and the Board on Atmospheric Science and Climate.

To conduct its work, the committee met three times and held two workshops to allow for broad community participation. The first workshop, at Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory, brought together members of the physical science community as well as those from the social science community who specialize in the societal impacts of climate change. From this workshop, it was decided that to properly address the ecological and societal impacts of abrupt climate change, an additional two-day workshop concentrating on these issues would be needed. This meeting, held in Washington, D.C., was primarily funded by the Yale/NBER Program on International Environmental Economics and provided essential information used to develop the climate impacts portion of this report.

This report is based on the knowledge and experience of the committee’s members and input gained from the two workshops. This report discusses the evidence for abrupt climate change (Chapter 2), the processes that can cause these changes (Chapter 3), global warming as a potential trigger for rapid climate change (Chapter 4), and the potential economic and ecological impacts of abrupt climate change (Chapter 5). The final chapter of the report presents the committee’s findings and recommendations.

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