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Planning Climate and Global Change Research Part II Detailed Comments
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research 6 Comments on Individual Chapters INTRODUCTION In this part of the report the committee provides a more detailed analysis of each chapter of the Climate Change Science Program’s (CCSP) draft strategic plan. This part of the committee’s review therefore is more disciplinary in nature than part 1 of the report. The committee has used the results of these chapter-by-chapter assessments as the basis of the overarching conclusions and recommendations presented in part 1. The main elements of the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI) are described in Chapters 2-4 of the draft plan, the main elements of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (GCRP) are described in Chapters 5-12 of the draft plan, and the program’s activities in the areas of communications and outreach, international research and cooperation, and program management are described in Chapters 13-15 of the draft plan. The committee was asked to address the following three questions for each “major topical area” of the plan: Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? Are the objectives clear and appropriate? Are results and deliverables realistic given available resources? The committee has used these questions as an organizing framework for its review of Chapters 2-12. Because these questions are not directly relevant to the issues covered in Chapters 13-15, the committee has organized its comments on these chapters into “General Comments” and “Specific Comments.” A general issue that applies to all chapters is that the draft strategic plan does not include details about present and projected levels of support for each program element. The fiscal year 2004 budget request for the CCSP also was not available until this report entered National Academies’ review. The committee therefore had limited information to evaluate whether the “results and deliverables are realistic given available resources,” the third question above. Even so, the committee attempts to provide insights into this question wherever possible, using its knowledge of the scientific challenges that need to be overcome to achieve the stated results, historical levels of support, and its knowledge of the approximate levels of resources that would be required to achieve the anticipated results. The strategic plan would be a much more useful planning document if it included estimates of the funding that would be required to achieve each result and deliverable. One approach for doing so would be to list short-term and longer-term “products and payoffs” together with an assessment of how much it will cost to achieve the product or payoff within the given time frame. CHAPTER 2: “RESEARCH FOCUSED ON KEY CLIMATE CHANGE UNCERTAINTIES” This chapter is organized around three questions: (1) What aerosols are contributing factors to climate change and what is their relative contribution to climate change? (2) What are the magnitudes and distributions of North American carbon sources and sinks, and what are the processes controlling their dynamics? and (3) How much of the expected climate change is the consequence of feedback processes? General Comments This chapter selects some very specific research areas as being key to reducing uncertainties in climate change.
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research The CCSP has made a compelling case that it needs to reduce uncertainty in climate projections (“forecasts”) for a wider audience, and the research areas selected in this chapter represent the science community’s view of the some of the largest sources of such uncertainty. The problem with the specific research programs proposed in Chapter 2 is that the draft plan has not shown a clear path as to how these foci will lead to improved climate projections in two to four years. While substantial progress in our scientific understanding would be gained by CCRI support of these four efforts, it is not clear that these will coordinate and drive a significant breakthrough in climate-change science at the level of the CCSP goals in Chapter 1 of the draft plan. This raises questions about whether research activities described in Chapter 2 of the draft plan might be more appropriate for the GCRP, and the intended relationship between the GCRP and the CCRI more generally (see discussion in Chapter 2 of this report). One possible model for the CCRI-GCRP relationship might be taken from some recent environment assessments in which an applied program (NASA Aeronautics) has some high-level questions (e.g., what will a supersonic civil-aviation fleet do to stratospheric ozone and climate?) that require both an acceleration of knowledge and a synthesis across a wide range of baseline science programs (NASA Earth Science researchers plus aircraft manufacturers). The high-level questions not only drive a new synthesis of current scientific understanding but also define some new research priorities for the baseline programs. By analogy, CCRI questions for aerosols, carbon-cycle science, and feedbacks should be at a level that could significantly improve climate projections (e.g., what is the role of anthropogenic aerosols in altering clouds globally?). The stated objective of reducing key uncertainties in climate-change projections will be difficult to achieve in the short term and cannot be guaranteed, but realistic short-term milestones could be identified. For example, the CCRI could make a significant contribution by convening workshops to assess and synthesize the state-of-the-science available to address priority policy questions. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? The plan's response to Question 1 is reasonably well balanced and reflects the current state of aerosol science and recent interagency steering group reports, such as the National Aerosol-Climate Interactions Program (NACIP). It focuses correctly on the need to develop a history of aerosol forcing that includes indirect effects on clouds and the hydrological cycle. The budgeted details (e.g., aircraft flyovers and algorithm development) are not coordinated, not necessarily high on the scientific priority list, and look more like specific preexisting agency interests. Elements of this aerosol science project are clearly among the top GCRP-type science priorities in terms of climate change and uncertainties, and they should stand out in the relevant chapters of the draft plan (i.e., Chapters 5, 6 and 11), but a more comprehensive CCRI synthesis of aerosol-climate interactions is needed to address Chapter 2 goals. Question 2 also presents a well-designed scientific program for the atmospheric component of the North American Carbon Program (NACP). The research is compelling, but it addresses only one aspect of understanding atmospheric carbon dioxide. The “Research Needs” focus on atmospheric measurements to identify surface sources and sinks only over North America (admittedly an important task), but not on the ecosystem research needed to understand the mechanisms driving these sources and sinks and how they may change in a future climate. This work would appear to be excellent GCRP-type research receiving high priority in Chapters 9 and 11, but by itself it is unlikely to significantly reduce the uncertainty in projecting atmospheric carbon dioxide abundances and, as for aerosols, a more comprehensive CCRI synthesis of the global carbon cycle is needed. Question 3a fails to capture the broad scope of the water cycle and its associated feedbacks. The land surface processes, including runoff, absorption, collection, and release of water vapor from the soil and plants, are not mentioned. Neither is the ocean, which plays a large role in moisture transport and cloud formation. The plan also fails to indicate clearly that we are challenged to understand and model clouds and moisture transports, so how these factors respond to climate change does not yet have a firm foundation. The lack of understanding is related to fundamental processes, and thus the complaint of poor resolution in current computer models is overemphasized relative to the need for better observations and understanding. Question 3b does a good job of summarizing the processes and issues. It would be better to change the emphasis to the “polar regions” rather than individually identifying specific Arctic and Antarctic issues. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? For question 1 the objectives are generally clear, but perhaps too grand to be answered readily. The “Products and Payoffs” are just too numerous and could be more focused. For Question 2 the objectives are clear but the “Products and Payoffs” are limited and may not answer the big question. The objective to understand the “systems” affecting carbon sources and sinks is not supported by the necessary research into understanding these systems (e.g., ocean, ecosystems, and human dimensions). For both Questions 1 and 2, achieving the larger objective of reducing key uncertainties would require a much broader synthesis and support from a wide range of GCRP research.
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research For Question 3a, the apparent objective, “Basic understanding of the processes that control atmospheric water vapor and clouds must be improved and incorporated in models,” has high merit and has been a goal for many years. Consequently, it is unrealistic to expect that it will be met in the first CCRI time window of two to four years. However, appropriate milestones could be identified within the cloud and water vapor feedback question (e.g., process studies of characteristic cloud types and regimes to develop the physical understanding of cloud formation, variability, and roles of surface and atmospheric processes; tests of the realism of boundary layer and cloud parameterizations against in situ data using process-resolving models) that would be a good match to the stated time line and products of the CCRI. For Question 3b the objectives are clear and appropriate, but some tuning is needed to make the objectives complete and robust (e.g., see CCSP, 2002, p. 23, “Determination of polar sea ice thickness, concentration, extent, and albedo, including in the marginal seas, on an ongoing basis to observe change and initialize models”). Also, space-borne salinity measurements in cold, polar waters may be more difficult than anticipated and relying on new, not-yet-flown satellites for the first two to four years of CCRI is too optimistic. Are expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? The answer for all questions is: No. No resources have been identified at the time of this review, and the time of two to four years is barely adequate, even if the scope of GCRP research in these areas is expanded. For example, it is unlikely that the NACIP or NACP will be able to acquire the observations, much less analyze or produce answers in two to four years. Similarly, some of the “Products and Payoffs” of Question 3b (e.g., measuring sea surface salinity from space, assessing the likelihood of polar changes to contribute to abrupt climate change) are major research challenges that are unlikely to be achieved in two to four years. The lack of a budget for these CCRI initiatives is more serious than for the GCRP research that already has a funding history. Resources thus depend not only on the CCRI budget augmentation but also on the commitments of the participating agencies. For all the chapter objectives, additional observations and analyses are needed. In some cases these observations will focus on intensive, brief process studies to understand specific mechanisms. In other cases these observations will be based on collecting and re-analyzing existing data sets. In general, however, the detection of patterns of global change requires continuing observations—not restricted to a limited amount of time, as indicated in the plan. For the delivery of results during the first two to four years of CCRI, the observation requirements for the aerosol and carbon cycle questions are appropriate. For the feedbacks questions, however, the CCRI objectives could rest with the design and development of the climate observing system discussed in Chapter 3 of the draft plan. CHAPTER 3: “CLIMATE QUALITY OBSERVATIONS, MONITORING, AND DATA MANAGEMENT” This chapter is organized around five questions: (1) How did the global climate change over the past 50 years and beyond, and what level of confidence do these data provide in attributing change to natural and human causes? (2) What is the current state of the climate, how does it compare with the past, and how can observations be improved to better initialize models for prediction? (3) How real are the differences in surface and tropospheric temperature trends? (4) How do we improve observations of biological and ecological systems to understand their response to climate variability and change? and (5) How accessible is the climate record? General Comments The chapter is broad and descriptive. Although it mentions a number of specific observation activities, no connection is made between these activities and the overall goals of the CCRI, and no justification is given for the high priority attached to these activities. Finally, no strategy is proposed for achieving these observation goals; there appears to be broad agreement on the need for an integrated system to provide high-quality, long-term climate observations, but there is no clear strategy for what measurements are most critical in the near term and the long term, and how the current mostly research-grade observation systems can be transitioned into routine and continuous operational networks. The issue of intercalibration over the long term, both within and between sensors, is particularly important. The draft plan provides no strategy for establishing such a climate observing system, though several NRC reports have provided many relevant recommendations (NRC, 1999a; 2000c; 2000d). A more balanced, comprehensive approach to observation systems is needed. The chapter reflects a strong bias toward satellite observations of the Earth system, but the complementary in situ observations are also needed. This is especially but not exclusively true of ocean and ecosystem observations (e.g., ground based, radio, buoys, aircraft). The draft plan does not address the human-dimension observations that are needed to understand climate change (e.g., emissions and land-use change).
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? For the most part the plan reflects current scientific and technical understanding of climate observation systems, but this part of the plan fails to identify opportunities for linkages between observations and modeling efforts (e.g., data-based evaluations of model simulations, model-based evaluation of proposed climate-relevant observing systems), and thereby does not reflect fully the current state of climate science. To address Question 1 the plan proposes a program of data archaeology and reanalysis. At a general level such a program makes sense and would be relatively inexpensive and amenable to significant short-term progress. An improved reconstruction of historical climate would be useful in assessing the performance of numerical models and in relating regional climate variations to large-scale variations. This section could be improved if it paid more attention to four areas. First, there is a need to determine the most critical gaps in the historical record. For example, it may make sense to allocate climate reconstruction resources places where the historical record is particularly weak or especially critical variables, including those connected to external forcing. Second, there is a pressing need to link this activity with numerical modeling efforts, particularly if climate reconstruction data is to be used to assess model performance. Third, in addition to reconstructing recent climate there is a need to better characterize low-frequency natural variability in the climate system and to understand the processes responsible for specific climate events in the more distant past, such as the rapid cooling during the Younger Dryas. Lastly, paleoclimate data that may not be available much longer should be collected immediately (e.g., vanishing glaciers, old growth trees, and coral reefs). To address Question 2 a number of activities are proposed to improve and expand modern climate observation systems. Again, at a general level, these are appropriate, but the motivation for attaching a high priority to specific observation programs is missing. The plan could be strengthened by making reference to the principles for ensuring the quality and usefulness of satellite observations for understanding climate (NRC, 1999a; 2000d). Attention must also be paid to the need for calibration both within and between sensor arrays. In terms of expanding the observation system there is a need for detailed optimization of the nation’s climate observing program based on scientific information and budget constraints. This strategic design of the network should be done in coordination with other countries. In doing so it is important to press for an open exchange of data. Other major problems with this section include: The draft strategic plan says little about the need to improve analytical methods, including four- dimensional data assimilation, that convert raw observations into useful information. The priorities listed in the chapter are aimed almost entirely at global observations. Local information to support local decisions (e.g., about regional effects of climate change) also needs to be included in identifying high-priority observation programs. This section ignores the need for improved and expanded economic and other data necessary to assess the costs, benefits, and distributional effects of alternative decisions. These data are also critical to improving numerical projections of the potential impacts of future climate change, one of the stated motivations for improving and expanding climate observations. Question 3 seems overly emphasized in the draft plan. Although resolving the difference between surface measurements and satellite measurements of tropospheric temperature is an important technical issue (e.g., see NRC, 2000e) of clear interest to policy makers, the draft plan seems to suggest that this question by itself is the key to determining whether the patterns of observed climate change are consistent with anthropogenic forcing. In fact, the underlying scientific question is far more complex and concerns variations in the vertical profile of temperature, including stratospheric cooling and specific geographic patterns of warming, a broader question that is not adequately addressed here or elsewhere in the draft plan. The inclusion of Question 4 in Chapter 3 is appropriate and important and the issues addressed are generally on target. Nevertheless, the discussion of biological and ecological observations needs sharpening. For example, decisions about which variables to monitor need to be carefully considered so that they reveal information not only about spatial distribution, but also about the composition, structure, and functioning of natural and managed ecosystems. Moreover, this section of the plan needs to describe how the observation system could be linked to existing data systems (such as those for agriculture), which though developed for different purposes, could provide information of relevance to the proposed analyses. Efforts to evaluate data trends and project future conditions through biological and ecological modeling also need to be included in the revised plan. Importantly, design of this observation system needs to be dovetailed with planned research in the ecosystems, carbon cycle, human dimensions, land use and land cover change, and other chapters. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? At a general level the objectives spelled out in the chapter are clear, but the justification for focusing on these
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research five questions in terms of the overall goals of the CCRI is not clear. The draft plan does not provide an appropriate balance between satellite and in situ observations; among atmospheric, land-surface, and oceanographic observations; and between observations aimed at reconstructing climate in the recent and more distant past. Given the stated goals of the CCRI, a provision for collecting and analyzing economic and other social scientific observations should have been included. Are the expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? As there are few if any fundamental intellectual or technological obstacles, the plan seems generally realistic in what it states to achieve provided that adequate financial and management resources are available. However, the strategy for international cooperation is so poorly specified that it seems difficult to see major changes over the next 2-10 years in the currently fragmented and unsystematic way observations are currently made. To be realistic about making observations relevant to decision making there must be a plan to develop continuous, integrated space and in situ measurements and then a workable information system to make these observations available to decision makers as information in a form they can use on a regular and reliable basis. CHAPTER 4: “DECISION SUPPORT RESOURCES” Chapter 4 of the draft strategic plan is organized around four themes: (1) evaluations and syntheses for policy analysis and operational resource management; (2) analytical techniques for serving decision needs, (3) applied climate modeling; and (4) resources for risk analysis and decision making under uncertainty. In this section of the report the committee first discusses the draft strategic plan’s treatment of Themes 1, 2, and 4, which deal with broad issues of decision support resources. These themes are also addressed in Part I of this report (see sections on “addressing key uncertainties” and “decision support resources” in Chapter 3 of this report). The committee then discusses individually Theme 3 of Chapter 4 on applied climate modeling. General Comments on Decision Support Resources (Themes 1, 2, and 4) Chapter 4 introduces commendable emphasis on scientific support for public and private-sector decision makers who must deal with aspects of climate change, climate variability, and associated global changes. The committee considers this one of the most promising and innovative features of the draft plan. Building and using this capacity will require commitments to capitalize on available information and existing decision support tools, to collect new information to address gaps in understanding, to develop new tools and capacity for decision making, and to engage stakeholders. Although the draft strategic plan incorporates general language about decision support in many places, it is vague about what this will actually mean. The draft plan does not do a very good job of identifying decision makers and their individual needs. Nor does it adequately distinguish between the research needed to develop new decision support tools and operational decision support activities, or how these two different types of activities relate to the longer-term research efforts of the GCRP. Another significant weakness of Chapter 4’s discussion of decision support resources is its failure to include any information as to which agency(ies) will be responsible for this new effort or the level of resources that will be required to achieve its objectives. This is particularly important in this case, because decision support is a new program element and because the levels of support for the types of research needed to achieve these objectives have been small in the past. The section on analytical methods is a very good start on a very difficult topic. The committee is encouraged that for the first time the federal government has made a commitment to develop scenarios consistently. It is equally important to recognize that the chapter can go much further by drawing on past experience of federal programs in scenario development and in developing other analytical methods to support decisions. The plan would be strengthened by recognizing that scenarios and integrated assessments are only two tools for decision support. Other tools (such as elicitation of preferences and use of expert judgment, have also been useful and could be discussed more extensively in the plan. Nearly all the other chapters in the draft strategic plan focus on four or five questions listed at the beginning of the chapter. Such questions were not included in Chapter 4, with the exception of the section on applied modeling. Chapter 4 would benefit from similarly focused questions. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? (Themes 1, 2, and 4) The plan does not reflect the current state of knowledge in the broad area of support for environmental decision making. For example, a considerable part of the effort outlined in the plan is aimed at eliciting information needs from decision makers (e.g., “a new stakeholder-oriented process for ongoing identification of questions relevant to decision makers,” CCSP, 2002, p. 46). Prior to embarking on a major new effort in this area the CCSP needs to assess and build on decades of work by various government agencies, such as the Energy Information Administration,
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Natural Resources Conservation Service, National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) (various ozone assessments), and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA’s) National Weather Service and Office of Global Programs. Identifying the research needs regarding vulnerability, key risk areas, and interactions with stakeholders can be gleaned from the regional and sectoral findings of the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Impacts Climate Variability and Change (NAST, 2001). Additional important contributions of the National Assessment are the lessons learned about processes for stakeholder engagement, including the need for continuous stakeholder relationships that allow for trust building, funding mechanisms that allow for long-term commitments to join research projects, and new mechanisms for the federal government to engage local participants in assessments. Research needs also have been articulated clearly in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report from Working Group II, Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability (IPCC, 2001a), and the experiences of past GCRP programs that have supported research and delivery of information to stakeholders such as NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, NASA’s Regional Earth Science Application Centers, EPA’s Global Change Research Program, and the National Science Foundation’s Science and Technology Center programs. This is not to say that there is no need for additional effort in this area, only that such additional effort should build upon what is already available. The scenario development section does not adequately describe the status of research or practice in this area. Rather, it reads as a tutorial on the nature of scenarios. There is by now a long national and international track record in scenario development. The plan could be improved if it built upon this track record by focusing on any areas of weakness and on the development of approaches to scenario use in decision making. In addition, the plan could be strengthened if it considered the development and use of socio-economic and ecological scenarios as a complement to the work on climate scenarios. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? (Themes 1, 2, and 4) The overall objectives of this part of the CCRI are clear and for the most part appropriate. The plan is weak on specifics, however, in part because of a failure to elucidate a framework for organizing research in this area. Such a framework could distinguish between (1) categories of decisions (e.g., mitigation versus adaptation) and (2) categories of decision makers (e.g., federal, state, and local governments, private firms, institutions, and individuals). The chapter does not adequately distinguish between research to develop new decision support tools or understanding and operational decision support activities. Operational needs have less research content but are very important to the success of the program and will probably require significant investments in human capacity. There is a need to distinguish between decision support at the national level regarding mitigation (choosing emissions control options, for example) and decision support at multiple scales for adaptation to the global changes that are already underway. The plan appears to focus entirely on decision making related to climate change. The scope for improved decision making related to seasonal-to-interannual climate variability (e.g., ENSO) also deserves attention. Are the expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? (Themes 1, 2, and 4) There are few specifics in this chapter regarding deliverables and timelines. Given that little decision support work for climate and global change is ongoing and the focus on decision support as a driver of the research agenda is relatively new, it is not clear which agency or funding stream will be used to initiate even the relatively modest short-term research agenda listed in the CCRI. Although NOAA’s Office of Global Programs and EPA’s Office of Global Change each have programs focused on developing the relationships, key questions, and scenarios described, these are small programs with limited support. These two offices are hardly in a position to bring about the increased emphasis in decision support. Because no description is given of how the CCRI will actually accomplish the products and payoffs, it is not clear that even these relatively modest short-term objectives of developing relationships and identifying key questions to drive the research agenda will be achieved. For the scenario subsection of Chapter 4 the products and payoffs that are described are broad and vague. It would be possible to achieve well-defined portions of the products and payoffs described in two to four years, but overall the deliverables do not seem achievable in this time frame. An appropriate starting point would be to assess the successes and failures of past scenario building efforts, and then focus research efforts on gaps in knowledge. Suggestions for Improving Subsection on Scenarios (Theme 2) The committee offers five suggestions for improving Chapter 4’s treatment of scenarios: The section on scenarios for climate-change impacts could be improved by distinguishing between different applications. For example, the specificity and
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research detail needed for decision making by resource managers at the regional, state, and local levels and by the private sector may differ from that needed to support decision making at the national or international level. Distinguish between the construction of climate-response scenarios (i.e., the climate change assuming a history of greenhouse gas and aerosol emissions and land-use changes) and climate-forcing scenarios (i.e., the socio-economic, ecological, and demographic scenarios that create the forcing). This is a serious research enterprise that the agencies must adequately support. The program must be careful in establishing the legitimacy of the scenarios that it chooses to produce. The choice of scenarios is always subject to intense scrutiny for sources of potential bias. The developers of scenarios need to ensure that they can justify the assumptions they have made in their products, and that their products are the result of reasonable analysis. The program will do itself a great service if it embraces the wealth of experience in decision support tools and scenario development that exists outside the government. Some of the best work on energy scenarios, for example, has been done in the private sector. There are many groups in university and research institute settings that have done extraordinary work in developing scenarios and other decision support tools. The program could develop scenarios to complement on build on international efforts, such as those of the IPCC. General Comments on Applied Climate Modeling (Theme 3) The “Applied Climate Modeling” section of the draft plan (CCSP, 2002, p. 47-52) has articulated a much needed new direction for U.S. climate change science, reaching out beyond the business-as-usual approach of the GCRP to provide tangible decision support resources. This section is quite insightful, reasonably well focused, and well grounded with respect to the priorities for climate modeling research and applications over the next decade. In contrast to the treatment of other decision support activities in Chapter 4 of the plan, the applied modeling discussion is better developed and more specific. This section does not adequately address several substantial challenges to meeting the ambitious goals it sets forward. First, it does not speak to the optimistic, and likely unrealistic, objective of substantially reducing climate sensitivity uncertainty in four years. Indeed, reducing this uncertainty substantially in the near future will require overcoming the challenges remaining in understanding the physics, and the quantitative modeling of that physics, in the cloud-radiation feedback problem. The challenges are even greater for those uncertainties associated with regional climate change projections. Second, this section sidesteps an even greater challenge to the climate science community: to make connections between the applied climate modeling results and the climate impacts research community, and on to decision makers, resource managers, and other consumers of climate change information.This is much easier said than done (e.g., see From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death [NRC, 2002a]). The chapter would benefit from outlining how the different decision support activities would interact. The draft plan pays little attention to how the proposed improvements in applied climate modeling are to be connected to the current and future users of modeled regional climate projections. In addition, this section does not adequately address how the applied climate modeling activities will be coordinated with the more theoretical model improvements called for under the GCRP. Third, the draft plan does not address the challenges associated with transitioning the current efforts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) into an effective applied modeling program. For one thing, building a “common modeling infrastructure” (CCSP, 2002, p. 52) is not an easy task. Fortunately, NCAR, GFDL, Goddard Space Flight Center, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology have achieved major progress over the past few years to develop a common modeling infrastructure in the Earth System Modeling Framework. This largely successful effort has set the stage to achieve a considerably enhanced capability for national and international cooperation in climate modeling, model output analysis, model intercomparisons, and improved climate assessments. A major outcome of these multiple-group efforts is a growing capacity to produce improved projections of climate change, as obtained from a range of groups with differing model formulations and different climate-forcing scenarios. An ongoing challenge is to provide fully interactive access and exchange from the “Two Centers” to other modeling groups, nationally and internationally. Particularly difficult is creating mechanisms by which researchers outside of the modeling centers can interface with the modeling efforts, for example to propose and test new parameterizations or to incorporate new observations. The draft plan is unclear about how the NCAR-GFDL partnership will be directed (i.e., will its focus be on conducting IPCC projections, facilitating the transition of research results into operational code, refining projections so as to reduce uncertainties in climate sensitivity, preparing model projections for local, regional, and national decision makers, or some combination of these?). It is unrealistic to expect the current modeling community to be able to make substantial near-term progress on all these fronts. Lastly, the section does not adequately address the mismatch between existing computing resources and those needed to implement the proposed applied modeling program. The introduction to this section is vague in stating
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research the reason why the United States is lagging in its ability to produce more useful high-resolution climate model results (CCSP, 2002, p. 47). The real reason for this has been the lack of an accelerated U.S. investment in supercomputing power for higher-resolution climate models. The draft plan does not indicate that the CCSP will seek the necessary budget for such increases in supercomputing power, other than as an implicit “tax” on the limited U.S. supercomputing resources that are already being focused on key climate science challenges. The section's focus on multiple Climate Process Teams (CPTs) (CCSP, 2002, p. 48) is a very important and promising new direction, as discussed in more detail in this report’s comments on Chapter 6 of the draft plan. It is encouraging that the CCRI Fiscal Year 2003 budget request appears to have made genuine commitments in this area. It will be challenging to target these resources to be consistent with the dual climate-science and climate-impacts goals of the CCRI; thus it is important for the strategic plan to be more specific about how the CPTs will be focused. If already viable, the CPTs could serve as a critical anchor for accelerated cooperation in the attack on these difficult research challenges. If these teams do not yet exist, a description on how the teams are being constituted would be useful. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? (Theme 3) Yes. This section is overall rather well thought out. It is based upon a generally impressive connection with state-of-the-art research understanding, as well as a keen awareness of the growing but embryonic collaborative efforts in applied and theoretical climate change modeling. There are some examples of the potential contributions being pushed a bit too hard in the context of the goals of the CCRI; they would have been quite reasonable in the context of the less directed scientific goals of the GCRP. It is odd that aerosol data assimilation is offered as the key successful example of this technique (CCSP, 2002, p. 50). The NCEP/NCAR data assimilation and reanalysis datasets have been available for a number of years, well before such techniques were attempted in aerosol modeling. The draft does not make clear how such aerosol assimilation procedures are to be applied profitably to an external forcing term in transient climate runs. Page 48, line 6 could better recognize that NCAR and GFDL are presently working cooperatively to explore the underlying reasons for these real model differences, thus providing a key anchor for the applied climate modeling part of the CCRI (CCSP, 2002). “It will be important to identify the one or two largest sources of uncertainty in feedback processes currently represented in climate models,” (CCSP, 2002, p. 48) does not reflect the current view that feedbacks associated with clouds is a major source of uncertainty. A remaining challenge is to better understand the uncertainty associated with the model representation of clouds and find new ways to reduce it. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? (Theme 3) For the stated climate science research objectives this section is one of the best in the draft plan. The section is much weaker, however, on how the prescribed emissions scenarios, and the climate model runs generated from them, will be used to enhance the needed information exchanges between the climate modeling community that produces the results and the climate-warming impacts communities who receive them. As discussed in Chapter 3 of this report considerable “capacity building” is needed to create the interactive community that will be required to facilitate the adaptive capability likely to be required. The discussion of “Testing Against the Climate Record” (CCSP, 2002, p. 49) understates the challenges in these endeavors. Many of the observation networks that have provided measurements of climate variables over the past 25 years were not designed with the goal of collecting climate-quality data. Thus, these data were not subject to the calibration, accuracy, and continuity required to obtain reliable climate change information (NRC, 1999a). For example, the utility of archived temperature measurements from operational satellites is limited by differences among the multiple sensors and spacecraft deployed over the last 25 years (NRC, 2000c). The CCSP should work to ensure that future satellite series provide climate-quality data. The proposal to test contemporary climate-warming models against the paleoclimate record (CCSP, 2002, p. 49) needs to be more specific to overcome ongoing data and interpretive challenges with this type of analysis. Paleoclimate records provide an important window on the natural variability of past climates. Unfortunately, they so far have been of rather limited value in the effort to provide the kinds of model evaluation tests necessary for constraining the uncertainties in quantifying future levels of climate warming for given scenarios of atmospheric aerosol and greenhouse gas concentrations. Simply put, the paleoclimate data are often of insufficient quality or quantity, the time scales of major epochs (e.g., ice ages) are often mismatched to today's climate change problem, and the governing phenomena in the paleo past can be quite different than those applicable today. The paleoclimate argument needs to be clarified here, with clear statements on how such data would be used improve climate models. Are the expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? (Theme 3)
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research No. The four-year deadline to produce a substantial reduction in climate sensitivity uncertainty is unrealistic, mostly because of the substantial challenges remaining in understanding and modeling the physics of cloud-radiation feedbacks. The value of applied climate model projections is strongly limited by supercomputer resources, and by the capability and number of the climate impacts researchers receiving them. It is fair to say, however, that very relevant interim progress reporting is a major option for the managers of the CCSP. CHAPTER 5: “ATMOSPHERIC COMPOSITION” This chapter is organized around five questions: (1) What are the climate-relevant chemical and radiative properties and spatial and temporal distributions of human-caused and naturally occurring aerosols? (2) What is the current quantitative skill for simulating the atmospheric budgets of the growing suite of chemically active greenhouse gases and their implications for the Earth’s energy balance? (3) What are the effects of regional pollution on the global atmosphere and the effects of global climate and chemical change on regional air quality and atmospheric chemical inputs to ecosystems? (4) What are the time scale and other characteristics of the recovery of the stratospheric ozone layer in response to declining abundances of ozone-depleting gases and increasing abundances of greenhouse gases? and (5) What are the couplings among climate change, air pollution, and ozone layer depletion, which were once considered separate issues? General Comments This chapter gives an excellent overview of atmospheric composition as being part of the broad, globally and regionally changing environment that has greater impact on society than just through climate change. The questions seem balanced and provide a suitable range of the top science priorities in the community as summarized below. The only major omission is the sources of trace gases and aerosols. In the committee’s view a comprehensive research effort is needed to locate and quantify such emissions from natural and anthropogenic sources; the lack of a thorough inventory is possibly the overriding uncertainty in assessing human impacts on atmospheric composition today. Other topics not covered or emphasized in the chapter include improving the understanding of hydroxyl radicals, anthropogenic dust, connections between atmospheric composition and cloud microphysics, how oceans interact with the atmosphere, and dimethyl sulfide (DMS). The committee recognizes that this chapter is not intended to be a thorough review of all the science pertaining to atmospheric composition, and that these topics are included implicitly in the scientific problems addressed (and we hope in more detailed actions plans to follow). This chapter could be improved by better describing how the research activities in it contribute to both the high-priority questions identified for the CCRI and the multiple critical crosscutting research areas. Understanding atmospheric composition should be at the core of many multistress and crosscutting environmental issues because its role in the Earth system extends well beyond being a vehicle for climate forcing. The links between atmospheric composition and human dimensions are obvious (both in terms of forcing and impacts), yet not adequately described in the draft plan. This relationship could be highlighted in the revised plan with a focus on developing the modeling capability to link atmospheric composition with human driving forces and human system impact at regional scales. The strong link of atmospheric composition with natural biogeochemical cycles, ecosystems, biomass burning, and the agricultural sector could be addressed in terms of the coupling between greenhouse gases and global nutrient cycles. The draft plan does not make clear whether monitoring changes in atmospheric composition is a priority in the proposed observing system for climate and climate-relevant variables. Measurements of atmospheric composition are needed to quantify climate forcing and many impacts on human and natural systems beyond climate change (e.g., acid and nutrient deposition, air pollution, ozone depletion, and UV). The chapter on atmospheric composition in the revised plan could outline a major role for trace gas and aerosol measurements in the design of the proposed observing system. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? Yes, the presentations at the CCSP planning workshop and at recent atmospheric chemistry workshops and steering committee meetings support the key topics raised here. The aerosol topic, Question 1, has been identified by the ad hoc scientific steering committee for the National Aerosol-Climate Interactions Program (NACIP). The budgets of key chemically reactive greenhouse gases such as methane, Question 2, are essential to projecting future climate change; and the recent variations in the methane growth rate pose a major challenge for the understanding of atmospheric composition. The connections between regional and global pollution and climate change, Question 3, have been identified recently as a major international, or at least hemispheric, issue with connections not only to the Framework Convention on Climate Change but also the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution. The recovery of the ozone layer, Question 4, remains a top interest; although improvements are expected over the next 50 years as chlorofluorocarbons decay in the atmosphere, there remains the threat of renewed ozone depletion at the
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research end of the century if methane and nitrous oxide abundances continue to increase. The relationship between climate change, ozone layer, and air pollution, Question 5, addresses the important linkage of atmospheric composition across a wide range of environmental problems that is now being recognized (e.g., IPCC [2001c]). The committee suggests that a new Question 6 should be added to address emissions of trace gases and aerosols. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? Generally, the objectives are clear, but they are not fleshed out. The detailed priorities and most critical linkages are not given in the draft plan. Rather than just quote linkages at the end, it would be more useful to describe each specific, top-priority research objective and how it involves linkages with climate change, water cycle, ecosystems, land use, carbon cycle, and human dimensions (both in terms of forcing and impacts). Most of these are implicit in the research needs as stated, but need to be explicit. Are expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? The timelines for scientific progress seem to be reasonable, but some payoffs are unclear as to whether the objective is to make major progress toward achieving them (a reasonable objective with previous GCRP resources) or to fully answer the big questions (an unrealistic objective requiring much greater resources). CHAPTER 6: “CLIMATE VARIABILITY AND CHANGE” This chapter is organized around five questions: (1) What is the sensitivity of climate change projections to feedbacks in the climate system? (2) To what extent can predictions of near-term climate fluctuations and projections of long-term climate change be improved, and what can be done to extend knowledge of the limits of predictability? (3) What is the likelihood of climate-induced changes that are significantly more abrupt than expected, such as the collapse of the thermohaline circulation and rapid melting of the major ice sheets? (4) Whether and how are the frequencies, intensities, and locations of extreme events, such as major droughts, floods, wildfires, heat waves, and hurricanes, altered by natural climate variations and human-induced climate changes? and (5) How can interactions between producers and users of climate variability and change information be optimally structured to ensure that essential information needed for formulating adaptive management strategies is identified and provided to decision makers and policy makers? General Comments Chapter 6 of the draft plan is well written and identifies many of the key research activities necessary to better understand climate variability and change. It appropriately attempts to provide an overview of the necessary progression from observations through modeling to production of decision aids for all of the CCSP. Ideally, this chapter would clearly articulate how research on individual elements of the Earth system will be integrated to develop a better understanding of climate variability and change. Chapter 6 does refer to other relevant chapters in several places, but does not adequately describe how research under climate variability and change and these other efforts will feed into each other. Of greatest concern are the linkages to the relevant elements of the CCRI (Chapters 2-4 of the draft plan) and the human contributions and responses to climate change (Chapter 11 of the draft plan). For example, the draft plan states, “Perhaps most fundamentally, we do not yet have a clear understanding of how these natural climate variations may be modified in the future by human-induced changes in climate” (CCSP, 2002, p. 69). This issue is vital to understanding both climate variability and climate change, yet the chapter does not specify any research that would improve understanding of the human activities that are changing climate systems. It calls for research that would make projections of climate futures based on assumptions about the human activities that drive climate change, but no research to put those assumptions on a more scientific footing. Another linkage that is not sufficiently developed is with multiple ongoing internationally coordinated efforts. Several such programs are mentioned,1 but no effort is made to describe how U.S. research activities will support them. This omission is striking considering that obtaining the observations necessary to improve understanding of climate variability and change requires international cooperation. The objectives of these international programs are closely parallel to those described in Chapter 6 of the plan. For example, a discussion of how the United States is contributing to and benefiting from CLIVAR, a 15-year effort dedicated to improving understanding and predictability of climate variability on seasonal to centennial time scales, would strengthen this chapter. It is 1 “Moreover, internationally coordinated research programs such as the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) and its projects Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR), Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC), Climate and Cryosphere (CliC), the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX); as well as the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (e.g., PAGES paleoscience project), are critical fordeveloping global infrastructure and research activities designed to ensure that global aspects of climate variability and change are addressed.” (CCSP, 2002, page 79).
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research including all the GCRP elements covered in Chapters 5-11 of the plan. An important thrust of this chapter (that is also brought forward into Chapter 2 of the draft plan) is to refine estimates of the magnitudes and distributions of North American carbon sources and sinks (Question 1). While Question 1 could provide a very good test case of what to expect for land-based carbon storage and release over the next several decades of rising CO2 abundances, it is limited and seemingly disconnected from the other questions that recognize the global scale of the problem. How will the North American intensive research translate into the improved global understanding that is well described in the Products and Payoffs? This focus on the North American carbon cycle is one example of the general insularity of the draft plan. In this effort regional atmospheric measurements of carbon dioxide (CO2) and methane (CH4) are correctly highlighted as essential to integrating sources and sinks, but such data are not unambiguous, and the projected advances rely heavily on anticipated improvements in atmospheric models (Chapter 5 of the draft plan). In general the chapter would benefit from a broader perspective that better explores the global context of these studies, the links to human dimensions, and a fuller suite of sequestration options. For example, issues related to fossil fuel consumption patterns, emerging carbon markets, policy approaches for encouraging sequestration, and other mitigation options are touched upon only briefly in the chapter, although these areas offer rich opportunities for interdisciplinary research by natural and social scientists to understand the human dimensions of global change. The plan recommends research on various potential options for managing land and ocean ecosystems to mitigate the rise of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere, and it may also need to consider the risks and benefits of such large-scale ecosystem manipulations. The chapter underemphasizes the role of the oceans in the carbon cycle, giving much more attention to the terrestrial systems. For example, many detailed examples and research objectives from the terrestrial systems are given, while the role of the ocean is generally referred to in general sweeping statements when it is mentioned at all. This oversight is puzzling, as it is generally accepted that ocean processes regulate climate-related changes in atmospheric CO2 over glacial-interglacial cycles, and oceans have a much larger inventory of carbon that is exchangeable with the atmosphere than do soils and the terrestrial biosphere. The plan would be greatly strengthened by providing a more detailed and comprehensive treatment of the role of oceans in the carbon cycle. In particular it could better address CO2 uptake in the open ocean (not just coastal areas), the climate sensitivity of water column processes, and the carbon cycle below the thermoclime and in marine sediments. The large-scale, long-term measurement campaigns and experiments in this plan will require significant multiyear funding commitment. More importantly, they are not just carbon cycle measurements but are also closely related to ecosystems research needs (Chapter 10 of the draft plan), and must be integrated with the global climate observing system (Chapter 3 of the draft plan). Success in the carbon cycle research requires the climate-quality observations, monitoring and data analysis shown in Chapter 3 of the draft plan. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? Generally the chapter provides a good assessment of what is currently known and unknown about the global carbon cycle, and where research should be strengthened. Many of the recommendations in the draft strategic plan aim to improve our basic understanding of the global carbon cycle. This chapter draws heavily on A U. S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan (Sarmiento and Wofsy, 1999), which represents a broad consensus of the research priorities of the nation’s scientists. Studies of biogeochemistry were also recognized as a research priority in Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences (NRC, 2000b). The draft plan perhaps overemphasizes a hot topic that recent evidence is deflating: the inability to balance the budget for CO2 in the Earth’s atmosphere, leading to an unresolved “missing sink” of carbon storage. In recent years various lines of direct (forest inventory) and indirect (atmospheric inversion) measurements have indicated that the missing sink for carbon lies in the forest biomass of the temperate zone, especially in North America (IPCC, 2001c). Estimates of the size of this missing sink differ markedly, but more recent work shows the value to be less than previously thought. This draft plan errs in assuming this sink is well known2; new, lower estimates of tropical deforestation do not require such a large uptake of carbon by temperate forests to balance the atmospheric CO2 budget (IPCC, 2001c). A major factor underplayed in this chapter is the human dimension (consumption and technology) in forcing of the carbon cycle. Although land-use change is well addressed (Question 4), the major driver, fossil fuel use, is not (also missing in Chapter 5 of the draft plan). Such human factors present a great uncertainty in projecting CO2 abundances in the latter half of this century. The uncertainties in the carbon cycle addressed here are important, but they represent only a fraction of the projected human forcing (see IPCC, 2001c). 2 “There is growing evidence of a current Northern Hemisphere terrestrial sink averaging 1.8 billion metric tons of carbon per year.” (CCSP, 2002, p. 101)
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? Yes, in the sense that the products and payoffs are excellent, clear, and appropriate objectives for the carbon cycle program. Unfortunately in many cases it is not clear how the research will lead to the products. Research priorities could more transparently address the importance of the underlying background flux of carbon in the natural carbon cycle, as distinguished from human changes in the flux since the Industrial Revolution. For instance, only the net increment of carbon transport in rivers due to human activities is relevant to deducing the potential for an enhanced sink for carbon to mediate the rise of CO2 in Earth’s atmosphere. Similar arguments pertain to the storage of organic carbon in northern hemisphere boreal soils, the storage of inorganic carbon in desert soil carbonates, and the transfer of net production to the deep sea. Are expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? Almost uniformly, all of the scheduled products do not appear to be deliverable within two to four years. The plan exaggerates the pace of progress in scientific understanding that can be achieved. For example, the optimism (“Breakthrough advances in techniques to observe and model”) is not true for the recent past, and seems to be a difficult achievement for the future. These products should remain high priority, but should be framed in terms of expected advances, rather than the described payoff. CHAPTER 10: “ECOSYSTEMS” This chapter is organized around three questions: (1) What are the most important linkages and feedbacks between ecosystems and global change (especially climate), and what are their quantitative relationships? (2) What are the potential consequences of global change for ecosystems and the delivery of their goods and services? and (3) What are the options for sustaining and improving ecosystem goods and services valued by societies, given projected global changes? General Comments Chapter 10 sets forth a broad and ambitious program on ecosystem research. This expanded emphasis, if adequately funded, would constitute a critical and much needed shift for the GCRP. Particularly important is the new focus on strategies for managing and sustaining ecosystems and the goods and services they provide amidst multiple global change processes (Question 3). Rapidly advancing science in this area will be essential to enable effective action before irreversible losses of ecosystem functions occur. Although the general focus of Chapter 10 is good, much of the specific content is weaker, probably reflecting the small past role of ecosystem research in the GCRP and that most of the chapter covers new ground for the program. Nevertheless, it means that this part of the draft plan still needs to be thought through more thoroughly by a larger group of scientists and natural resource and ecosystem managers who match the chapter’s breadth. Overall the chapter would benefit from a more cohesive and strategic organizing framework that places a clear priority on predicting ecosystem impacts and on providing the scientific foundation for possible actions and policies to minimize the deleterious effects and optimize future outcomes. This framework should explicitly define “ecosystem goods and services,” because this term is a core concept for organizing the chapter’s research problems. The chapter’s implied definition is appropriately broad, capturing public benefits ranging from food and fiber to biological diversity and aesthetic and cultural values. Unambiguous definition in the plan will be essential, though, to avoid misinterpretations such as a narrow focus on resource extraction. The organizing framework needs to cogently address the diversity of ecosystems that it covers. Different research needs and priorities will arise from differences in vulnerability and response options, for example, between natural and semi-natural ecosystems and those intensively managed for agriculture and forestry. The framework should sequence the research in ways that reflect the urgency of information needs for decision makers, giving priority to approaches for enhancing ecosystem resilience, ecological systems most at imminent risk, and ecosystems where rapid, near-term changes are likely to have the greatest socio-economic effects. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? The chapter’s general scope and three questions are supported by current scientific and technical understanding. Because the chapter is short on scientific and technical detail and covers such a wide scope, it omits some important concepts, does not always build upon what is already known, and does not consistently target research toward the most pressing information gaps. Two major weaknesses result. First, much of the chapter treats ecosystems as a “biophysical black box.” The chapter lacks depth and misses important issues in its coverage of the interplay between climate and global change and the ecological patterns and processes that sustain the capacity of ecosystems to deliver goods and services desired by society. Such patterns and processes include: species and community diversity, distribution, and dynamics; ecosystem processes like disturbance, hydrology,
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research and fire; spatial configuration, connectivity, and corridors; and evolutionary processes. Targeted insights at this level will be essential to evaluate the benefits and risks of proposed mitigation and adaptation strategies and to inform resource management decisions that balance competing interests. Similarly weak is the chapter’s coverage of the many linkages between ecosystem condition and human societies and resulting research questions that integrate the natural and social sciences. The plan gives only passing attention to one of the key needs ahead: research on the economic valuation of ecosystems and the market and non-market goods and services that they provide in order to inform pending decisions about natural resources and risk management. Other gaps include the potentially significant feedbacks between ecosystem changes and human societies, such as the potential for ecosystem degradation to exacerbate or catalyze societal problems, and important researchable questions about the future effectiveness of current environmental laws and policies that seek to maintain recent (“natural”) ecological conditions. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? The specific objectives are not clear and appropriate. The chapter identifies an assortment of general and specific research questions and needs, however, these objectives do not add up to a coherent, focused, and strategic science plan. Some of the research questions are important implementation issues, but the underlying science research needs have not been identified. Others confuse means with ends, calling for certain types of data or analytical frameworks without clearly specifying the underlying science objectives these tools should serve. For example, the section describing research to understand impacts (Question 2), focuses primarily upon remotely sensed data and ambiguously described analyses and experiments. What many decision makers will need, however, are results from robust models of climate and land use change at a regional scale linked to long-term experimental studies that examine how the composition, structure, and functioning of ecosystems will respond to multiple stressors. The chapter’s description of an ecosystem observing system has similar ambiguities. A clear picture of data needs and applications should inform the design of observation systems. Instead, the draft plan appears to simply link already existing and planned observation systems that were designed for different objectives. The first step should be to design an ecosystem observation system—to monitor the health of ecosystems, to serve as an early warning system for unanticipated ecosystem changes, and to verify approaches for modeling and forecasting ecosystem changes—and then to ask whether existing programs should be a part of this system. The discussion of research on options for sustaining and improving ecosystem goods and services (Question 3) misses an important opportunity to consider integrating scientific analyses of ecosystem function into ongoing large-scale efforts to manage ecosystems for societal benefits. Much ecosystem management for the foreseeable future will proceed with imperfect knowledge about the impacts of multiple global change processes and about fundamental aspects of ecosystem structure and function. Thus, it will be experimental. Routine monitoring, scientific evaluation, and feedback to managers could enable adaptive shifts in management strategies as knowledge about an ecological system grows. At the same time, such “adaptive management” also could provide important opportunities for scientists to test hypotheses about ecosystem function and responses through large- scale manipulative experiments. Several private and public organizations have piloted this approach, and it has much promise for advancing both scientific research and natural resource management goals related to global change. The chapter recognizes, as have previous NRC reports (e.g., NRC, 1999b) and the U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Impacts Climate Variability and Change (NAST, 2000), that climate change will interact with other global change processes to produce aggregate impacts on ecosystems and, further, that these interactions will affect the likely success of various response options. It does not, however, describe any program of research to better understand such interactions, nor does it identify which processes such a program would address. Two important interacting processes not well covered by the draft strategic plan, for example, are changes in global nutrient cycles, particularly the nitrogen cycle, and major changes now occurring in the world’s biota due to species translocations and invasions. Are the results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? The chapter emphasizes near-term syntheses of existing knowledge, but these syntheses lack sufficient rigor to fulfill the chapter’s research objectives. The chapter does not provide much clarity about longer-term deliverables and consequently falls short of the kind of content coverage that one would desire from a 10-year plan. Timelines for most deliverables seem ambitious. While current resources might be sufficient for the near-term deliverables, they are clearly insufficient for implementing the expanded program of ecosystem research that matches the chapter’s broad scope and the nation’s needs. The plan will need to commit significant new resources, present a credible build-out plan, and/or provide a much more tightly organized and strategic focus if the CCSP is to achieve the longer-term objectives in the area of ecosystems. Implementing the plan also will require involvement of agencies with responsibilities for managing
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research ecosystems that have not previously been deeply involved in the GCRP (e.g., those dealing with federal lands, marine and estuarine reserves, agricultural conservation lands and wetlands). Today’s research and development infrastructure in and outside the federal government does not adequately support the development of technologies for managing ecosystems, particularly those outside production agriculture, forestry, and fisheries. Consequently, most federally supported ecosystem research has typically been only loosely linked to the federal government’s significant responsibilities to manage and conserve biological resources in natural, semi-natural, and multiple-use ecosystems. The strategic plan needs to address this significant infrastructure and capacity gap. CHAPTER 11: “HUMAN CONTRIBUTIONS AND RESPONSES” This chapter is organized around four questions: (1) What are the magnitudes, interrelationships, and significance of the primary human drivers of change in atmospheric composition and the climate system, changes in land use and land cover, and other changes in the global environment? (2) What are the current and potential future impacts of global environmental variability and change on human welfare, what factors influence the capacity of human societies to respond to change, and how can resilience be increased and vulnerability reduced? (3) How can the methods and capabilities for societal decision making under conditions of complexity and uncertainty about global environmental variability and change be enhanced? and (4) What are the potential human health effects of global environmental change, and what tools and climate and environmental information are needed to assess and address the cumulative risk to health from these effects? General Comments Chapter 11 reflects many of the important research questions about human contributions and responses to global change. It does not provide an adequate assessment of the state of knowledge or provide specific priorities that might guide the implementation of research across federal agencies and other institutions. It is not well linked to most other chapters in the strategic plan, and lacks useful or detailed discussion of the links of the U.S. human dimensions research agenda with international activities such as those of the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change, IPCC, and the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. The revised plan will need to address the genuine challenge of supporting research that combines data, concepts, and analytical approaches from the social and natural sciences. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? Generally the chapter does not adequately reflect current scientific and technical understanding. For each of the four questions the descriptions of the state of knowledge need to be greatly improved to better demonstrate what is known about the human contributions and responses to climate change and to indicate that the research funded to date has produced several significant results (see for example, NRC [1999b]; IPCC [2001a, b]; NAST ; and articles in the journal Global Environmental Change). The chapter gives a false impression that all human dimensions research is more difficult or more uncertain than other aspects of the program. Some aspects of human activity are fairly predictable and their study can actually lead to reduced estimates of the uncertainty and severity of climate impacts (e.g., the analysis of resilient institutions and technologies, such as disaster response organizations or precision agriculture). There has been great progress in understanding regional vulnerabilities, multiple stresses, and possibilities for adaptation, especially in relation to seasonal climate variability independent of the uncertainty in longer-term climate projections. Question 1 needs to include research on the role of institutions such as property rights in driving environmental change. Question 3 might recognize the importance of deliberative interactions with stakeholders and the value of research on human preferences as input into policy decisions. Question 4 appropriately focuses on the importance of research into impacts on human health, but suggests that this is of higher priority than other critical impact sectors such as water and agriculture. The chapter in general must recognize the need for basic social science research into human-environment interactions, the importance of economic analysis of the costs and benefits of mitigation and adaptation and the tradeoffs between different response options, and the importance of social science data collection as a basis for more specific research questions and empirical research results. Because of their significance to human dimensions research and decision making, it is disappointing that this chapter pays little attention to research questions about mitigation and adaptation, environmentally significant consumption, human preferences, institutions, economic analysis, and decision support tools. The lack of attention paid to research on consumption is a problem throughout the draft strategic plan because understanding consumption (e.g., of resources such as fuel, water, chemicals) is critical to understanding the driving forces of land-use change (e.g., deforestation, agricultural intensification) and emissions. Consumption research is also important to understanding climate impacts and vulnerabilities, for example, the important role of per capita water consumption in understanding future patterns of water demand and supply. It has great payoffs in both the public and private sectors in
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research terms of informed decision making. Research into public perception and acceptance of alternative technologies (such as nuclear energy), public demand for low-mileage vehicles (such as sport utility vehicles), and local initiatives to promote energy conservation could provide scientific information needed for climate technology programs and for modeling emissions and land-use change. As noted in Chapter 3 of this report there is a sophisticated range of social science tools for supporting decision making, understanding stakeholder needs, communicating uncertainty and risk, assessing both market and nonmarket costs and benefits, and providing outreach to the public and others. The strategic plan should be more explicit in Chapters 4 and 11 about the potential value of these social science tools and priorities for their improvement and incorporation across the whole strategic plan. The plan is very weak in the area of economics. Research progress has been made and should continue into the costs and benefits of impacts, mitigation, and adaptation; new economic instruments for responding to global change; the implications of global economic restructuring for contributions and responses to global change; and the full range of valuation (e.g., market and nonmarket). One of the most obvious gaps is the lack of attention to research on how institutions (markets, laws, property rights, formal organizations) influence the drivers of change (such as deforestation), the impacts of change (such as water scarcity), and the effectiveness of responses (such as emissions trading or climate technology). Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? Chapter 11 is weaker than other chapters in terms of outlining products and payoffs in the short term, failing, for example, to highlight the potential of research on human vulnerability and response to climate variability and seasonal forecasts (e.g., El Niño-Southern Oscillation) to produce real economic benefits to U.S. and other stakeholders while providing insights into vulnerability and adaptation to longer-term climate change. There is considerable potential for short-term deliverables in the area of climate variability that will improve decision making and resource management while at the same time reducing uncertainties in understanding the human responses to longer-term climate change. The specific objectives of this chapter are not clear because the products and payoffs are stated so briefly and generally (with the exception of Question 4 on health) that it is difficult to understand what the priorities are and what might be achieved. The strategic plan should be much more specific as to the different types of users and stakeholders for climate science and global change research with much greater sensitivity and disaggregation with regard to the scale of decisions (not just national and regional but finer scaled to state, city, watershed, ecoregion, and other management and administrative units), a sophisticated understanding of institutions, and the differentiated needs of the private and NGO sectors. Research can be (and has been) funded to create a fine-grained understanding of stakeholder needs and scales of decision making and could be established as an objective in either Chapter 4 or 11 of the draft plan. Are the results and deliverables realistic given available resources? The research program is described so broadly, and the description of products and payoffs so briefly that one is left with an unrealistic sense of what can be achieved in both the short and long term, especially given the modest budget for human dimensions research within the GCRP. More realistic and specific results and deliverables might include improved definition and understanding of climate vulnerability and adaptation at national and regional levels based on analysis of climate variability; guidelines for developing climate information of benefit to stakeholders and communicating uncertainty; development of socio-economic datasets for analyzing drivers of change and identification of relevant data gaps; and models of links between consumption, emissions and land-use change. CHAPTER 12: “GRAND CHALLENGES IN MODELING, OBSERVATIONS, AND INFORMATION SYSTEMS” This chapter is organized around three themes: (1) observations, (2) modeling capabilities, and (3) data and information management. General Comments Unlike the other chapters in the GCRP part of the strategic plan, titled simply “Carbon Cycle” or “Ecosystems,” Chapter 12 carries the imposing title of “Grand Challenges in Modeling, Observations, and Information Systems.” Its contents, however, are not so distinctive. The committee agrees with the report, Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling (NRC, 2001) that one of the most important challenges for the CCSP is the evolving integration of modeling science, climate observations, and information into a decision support system. Chapter 12 does not articulate such an overarching vision for the CCSP’s modeling, observations, and information systems. The draft plan is unclear about the relationship between the objectives identified in this chapter, which apparently serve the GCRP program elements, and those identified in the CCRI, that is, in Chapter 3 (Climate Quality Observations, Monitoring, and Data Management) and in the applied climate modeling section of Chapter 4. Chapters
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research 3 and 12 have substantial overlaps, and many of the modeling needs identified in Chapter 4 call on the same resources as those in Chapter 12. For these “grand challenges,” it seems that a single overarching strategy into which the CCRI and GCRP objectives are integrated would be appropriate. As discussed further in Part I of this report most of the activities necessary to build global climate observing systems, greatly improve modeling capabilities, and advance data management system are long-term endeavors. Even so, certain well-placed investments can accrue short-term benefits suitable for the CCRI (see this report’s discussion of the draft plan’s Chapters 3 and 4). This chapter, particularly in the observations and modeling sections, lists many “priorities.” Indeed, 22 separate observational programs are given in the box on pages 134-135 (even while neglecting those pertaining to human contributions and responses to environmental change identified in Chapter 11 of the draft plan) and 33 separate modeling programs are listed in the box on pages 141-143 (CCSP, 2002). No apparent priority is given for either list, reflecting a more general problem with the draft plan. The “Observing System Prioritization Criteria” provided on page 136 are reasonable in the abstract, but it is difficult to discern how they will be applied in practice (CCSP, 2002). At the least the plan could indicate those items that are considered to be of very high, high, and moderate priority, or something similar. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding? For Theme 1 (observations) the list of observation challenges (CCSP, 2002, p. 132) is appropriately broad and reasonably complete. The observational needs identified in Chapter 11 of the draft plan (“Human Contributions and Responses to Environmental Change”) are obviously missing in the box on pages 134-135 (CCSP, 2002). The sections on page 136 on “Integration and transition of experimental and operational systems” and “A Global Observing System” clearly fail to articulate and address the large challenges in these two realms (CCSP, 2002). As discussed in Part I of this report, transitioning research-grade observations to operational applications presents many significant infrastructure barriers. Likewise, the plan makes repeated reference to the global climate observing system, yet to date the system is only a patchwork of observation networks. Major investments are needed to maintain and expand an integrated observing system that will support monitoring, diagnosis, and modeling of climate and associated global changes. This chapter, as well as Chapter 3 of the draft plan, largely sidesteps the fundamental overhaul and large national and international capacity-building efforts that would be required to establish the needed observation programs. For Theme 2 (modeling capabilities) the description of modeling capabilities is reasonably complete and generally accurate in assessing needs within the next decade. Useful research activities are clearly identified. This section, however, lacks the details that will enable smooth implementation of this plan. For Theme 3 (data and information management) the challenge of integrating the large amounts of relevant data is well laid out. Receiving less attention, perhaps because they are addressed in Chapter 3, are the important issues of data quality assurance, data archiving, and data dissemination. The research needs are clearly described, and the inclusion of socio-economic data is particularly welcome. Are the specific objectives clear and appropriate? For Theme 1, the five objectives listed in “The Road Forward” section are very clear and quite appropriate, though they are rather general. Of greatest concern is that they do not address the larger issues relevant to establishing a global climate observing system, as discussed in Chapter 3 of this report. A major weakness in the plan is that it does not emphasize an integration of existing observation systems, nor does it offer a pathway toward expansion of observation systems to include key climate-related ecological, biogeochemical, geophysical, and environmentally relevant socio-economic measurements. A great need exists for systematic integrated measurements, where interagency and international cooperation could bring major advances. Chapter 12 in the plan is the appropriate place to describe how the necessary integration and expansion will be developed. For example, more specific criteria could be provided for strategically selecting observation sites and the correct mix of space-based and in situ measurements. Another way that the section on observations could be strengthened would be to explicitly address the large investment in satellite observations. A longstanding criticism of the GCRP has been that it is too heavily biased toward space-based observations (e.g., NRC, 1999b). The most recent edition of Our Changing Planet (GCRP, 2002) indicates that approximately half of the GCRP budget is devoted to space-based observations. The lists of observational challenges and priorities in Chapter 12 seem reasonably balanced, but it is difficult for the committee to conduct an evaluation of this balance without detailed budget information. The committee believes that the strategic plan is an appropriate vehicle for describing the rationale for the expensive investment in satellite observations. For Theme 2 the strategic plan lists two objectives: the first is described as a “research activity” and the second as a “quasi-operational” activity to provide a “sustained and timely delivery of model products that are required for
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research assessment and other needs” (CCSP, 2002, p. 139). Both are described only in general terms. Unlike the other sections of this chapter this section has no section devoted to “The Road Forward,” “Research Needs,” or “Products and Payoffs.” This general discussion does not address the fact that these two activities require the same community of modelers to apply and develop their models to meet quite different objectives. Without clear priorities or even well-defined “Products and Payoffs” there is no clear pathway for implementation. This general treatment of modeling sidesteps entirely the significant challenges associated with transitioning the current efforts at the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL) into an effective applied modeling program, while maintaining cutting-edge research programs (see also the discussion of Applied Climate Modeling in Part II of this report). “Maintaining collaborations with perhaps hundreds of external contributors” is an appropriate but very difficult objective. Chapter 12 needs to provide more details about how the NCAR-GFDL partnership will be directed (i.e., will its focus be on conducting IPCC projections; facilitating the transition of research results into operational code; refining projections so as to reduce uncertainties in climate sensitivity; preparing model projections for local, regional, and national decision makers; or some combination of these?). It is unrealistic to expect the current modeling community to be able to make substantial near-term progress on all of these fronts. For Theme 3 the objectives are quite diffuse and address only a portion of the challenges of this activity. Are expected results and deliverables realistic given the available resources? As with most of the other chapters in this report an answer to this question is made difficult by the lengthy lists of results and deliverables, limited timelines, and the lack of information on available resources. For Theme 1 a major increase in routine, opportunistic monitoring is required to inform models and interested stakeholders about the state of the Earth system (e.g., in space, on land, in the oceans). Long-term routine observation programs are particularly appropriate. These challenges can be met, but will require substantial funding and ongoing commitment. For Theme 2 a large barrier to improved modeling, especially modeling that addresses regional and smaller scales, is supercomputing capacity. Addressing the substantial shortcoming in current computational power will require a significant commitment of funds, but the neither the plan or the most recent edition of Our Changing Planet (GCRP, 2003) indicate that such a commitment is forthcoming. In addition, producing the full suite of model products identified in the plan would require the efforts of large numbers of highly qualified personnel. Indeed, it is unrealistic to expect the existing community of climate modelers to accomplish all the relevant objectives listed in Chapter 6 (repeated in Chapter 12) and also to build substantial new applied climate modeling capabilities. As described in Part I of this report the plan does not address the significant capacity building that will be necessary to recruit, train, and retain a much increased community of climate modelers. For Theme 3 the generation and maintenance of integrated datasets is extremely important, difficult to accomplish, and historically under funded. It will take a major long-term commitment to achieve the “seamless access to information” expressed in the CCSP. CHAPTER 13: “REPORTING AND OUTREACH” This chapter is organized around four themes: (1) inventory of existing agency activities; (2) reporting and outreach for decision makers; (3) reporting and outreach for the public; and (4) outreach for K-12 education. General Comments Effective outreach and reporting are pivotal to the success of the CCSP. The program cannot fulfill its mission of enabling the nation to address and evaluate global and climate change risks and opportunities without effective means of sharing information, reporting results, and engaging stakeholders. Chapter 13 of the draft strategic plan discusses critical reporting and outreach needs and mechanisms. Chapter 13 also addresses the promotion of public discourse and the use of decision support resources in establishing and choosing policy options. Its most glaring shortfall is the adoption of an outmoded, one-way, top-down mode of interacting with decision makers and other stakeholders. The chapter defines two general stakeholder groups with complementary, but disparate needs, the first stakeholder group includes policy makers, resource managers, the scientific community, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the international community, the second stakeholder group includes those involved in education of the general public, school children, the media, and educators. The specific information needs of each group and the mechanisms for incorporating their input into policy at all levels of government are not addressed. The chapter summarizes very generally current federal agency reporting and outreach activities and commits the CCSP to specific activities for enhanced interagency coordination for decision makers, the public, and K-12 education. The chapter successfully identifies current problem areas and makes useful suggestions for correcting them. It falls short, however, when it fails to assign responsibility, establish time frames, and delineate budget and funding means. The recommendations for action, while
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research important, are so broad and lack prioritization; it will be very difficult to accomplish all or even a few of them. The chapter should better identify which recommendations are the highest priorities and who has responsibility for ensuring that they occur according to a specified time frame. The revised plan should also specify a time frame by which the CCSP develops a communication and outreach strategic plan that incorporates these elements. Specific Issues Theme 1 (inventory of existing agency activities) highlights a major problem with the myriad climate change research communication processes in the agencies. No current inventory of all federal government outreach activities exists. No interagency working group has been identified to specifically address outreach or to develop a plan that will maximize limited resources and assure much needed cooperation and coordination. Although the program assigns this vital responsibility to the CCSP, it needs to delineate more clearly what part of that institution will assume this responsibility, how it will be staffed and funded, and how it will ensure its goals are met. For example, the plan could call for reporting on a specified frequency (e.g., quarterly or annually) to the CCSP by all federal agencies listed in the plan. In addition, the plan could call for a mechanism to plan for and coordinate releases of research results and public announcements. To ensure that these coordination efforts are given appropriate emphasis, oversight of outreach and communication must be assigned to the upper echelons of the various agencies. Without senior management attention it is clear from the draft plan that competing resource needs and individual agency priorities will overwhelm the need for coordination. Much of the chapter is focused on reporting after the fact rather than during the development of plans and research projects. Although it is clear from the text that the CCSP realizes the importance of engaging stakeholders in the preparation and review of long-term strategic plans, Chapter 13 needs to explicitly state that interested stakeholders should be included throughout the research planning, execution, and results review process. Guidance could be developed for inclusion of stakeholders at appropriate junctures in the process. Although two general stakeholder groups are identified in Chapter 13, they include many subgroups with different needs and for whom different outreach approaches are appropriate. The outreach and communication plan must clearly identify stakeholders and the individual stakeholder’s needs. In doing so the strategic plan should build upon prior efforts, such as the U.S. National Assessment (NAST, 2001). In addition, the revised plan could include a program to develop and incorporate an evaluation process to assess the success of these outreach efforts. Theme 2 (reporting and outreach for decision makers) overlooks many decision makers in the section on “National Policymakers and the International Community.” This section is focused on the international community and Congress without sufficient emphasis on other decision makers and staff in the Executive Branch. Without diminishing the importance of providing information to Congress and the international community, the plan’s recommendations could be broadened to include briefings or other mechanisms for information sharing with agency officials. The recommendation to “provide information and briefings to international partners,” (CCSP, 2002, p. 151) could be amended to include a specification of what partners, when, and by whom. This section generally suffers from lack of detail that will make it difficult to implement the recommendations. For Theme 2 the section on “Local/Regional Governments, Businesses and NGO's” and the plan as whole, lacks recommendations for working with state decision makers. Given the increasing importance of regional issues, identified repeatedly at the December planning workshop, this document does not adequately acknowledge the participation of state officials, including governors, state assemblies, commissioners of state, departments of natural resources and environmental protection agencies, state agriculture secretaries, and state energy and transportation directors. The plan could provide more information on relationships with states. The CCSP could also consider working with the national associations that represent these entities, such as Environmental Council of the States, the National Governors Association, and the Association of State Highway and Transportation Officials. This section could better acknowledge the importance of seasonal and interannual forecasts for outreach, education, and decision support. These forecasts often address regional issues of importance to decision makers and resource managers. The preliminary success of the El Niño-Southern Oscillation forecasts demonstrates the educational and decisional value of such announcements. Participants at the December planning workshop called for more emphasis on regional variability issues and regional climate change research. Such emphasis brings climate change issues down to a local scale with demonstrable impacts on specific populations. Therefore, regional outreach and communication should be a significant component of the plan. Such regional emphases also provide a valuable link between Congress and its constituents. Inclusion of business and NGOs in the communication process needs to be better described in the plan. Implementation of many of the technologies identified in the Climate Change Technology Program will come from the business sector. Their needs could be better considered in this section. NGOs can be severely hampered by limited budgets, and recognition of this impediment and development of effective means of including them, could be
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research addressed. The recommendation to “facilitate regional identification of key stakeholders through regional workshops, regional integrated research and regional briefings” (CCSP, 2002, p. 151) lacks important details: What does this mean? How will this be done? By whom? After identifying the need to work with specific types of stakeholders, an appropriate next step would be evaluating whether to build on existing or past regional stakeholder networks (e.g., those created by the National Assessment), as well as evaluating whether the resources exist to maintain the relationships once established. Theme 3 (reporting and outreach to the public) asserts that the public is the most important audience for the communication of reliable global change information. The section correctly asserts the value of informing key constituents about the importance of science’s role in decision making. It suggests that CCSP and the federal agencies consider briefings for the general public through mechanisms like town meetings. Other mechanisms such as television programs, radio spots, and newspapers articles may be more effective in reaching a large community unless there is specific research or targeted regional research of particular relevance to a particular public. Participation by informed researchers or agency officials at specific forums, such as those sponsored by chambers of commerce, environmental groups, or others, may be another effective means of conveying information and engaging the community in a dialogue. There has been considerable progress in developing techniques for engaging members of the public in analytic deliberation processes over public policy issues, but these new techniques are not included in the plan. This section also discusses the need for a centralized, Internet-based clearinghouse of reliable information about global climate science. The committee concurs that such a clearinghouse would be useful to all stakeholders, but notes that the plan fails to specify the responsible authority, provide a timeline, or allocate a budget to this important need. Theme 4 (outreach for K-12 education) summarizes some of the ongoing and valuable educational initiatives already underway, including the Climate Change Partnership Education Program. It further states that a greater emphasis on the quality of curricula and instruction is necessary, both for general studies and as relates to climate change. Although the recommendations generally seem consistent with the stated goals, there is clearly room for more imaginative and creative approaches. This chapter does not, however, address the needs of colleges and universities. It also misses the important role that university extension programs can plan in disseminating information and educating the public. CHAPTER 14: “INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH AND COOPERATION” This chapter is organized around six themes: (1) goals of international cooperation in climate science, (2) the international framework, (3) bilateral cooperation in climate change research and technology, (4) multilateral international cooperation in research and observation programs, (5) regional cooperation in global change research, and (6) U.S. plans and objectives for future international cooperation. General Comments The committee commends the CCSP for including a chapter on international research and cooperation, however this chapter does not fully convey a sense of what the CCSP will consider strategically important for strengthening international research and cooperation in global change. Chapter 14 does not describe how the CCSP plans to build upon existing international and national programs that have already begun to establish collaborations and partnerships. The Climate Variability and Predictability program (CLIVAR), a major international study under the World Climate Research Programme, is not mentioned in the chapter (though it is mentioned in Chapter 6 of the draft plan). The value of multi-national research networks has been demonstrated in several ongoing agency programs and in international organization. For example, research conducted under the GCRP during the last 10 years has shown considerable science leadership in international global change programs, particularly the International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), the International Program on Human Dimensions of Global Environmental Change (IHDP), and the World Climate Research Program (WCRP). The draft plan therefore misses an opportunity to develop a strategy for improving international research networks, exchanges of knowledge, and joint assessments. On page 156 (CCSP, 2002) the strategic plan states that the main drivers for establishing cooperative research have been individual scientists identifying areas of opportunity and establishing international programs. This may be the best way to establish international cooperation, but it essentially abdicates any role for a central strategy in this area. International cooperation is especially valuable for building better in situ calibration and validation of remote-sensed observations, for obtaining more globally distributed measurements, and for building synergy and reducing redundancy in the deployment of assets. The meteorological community offers an example of international collaboration, with assignment of regional responsibilities for making measurements and data-sharing protocols arranged at an intergovernmental level under the World Meteorological Organization. The climate community lacks a similar structure. The U.S. climate community has
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research not even identified which agency serves as the central contact for international partners on climate research issues, including coordinated observing arrays, intercalibration, capacity building, and data and product sharing. International collaborations and interactions in the development of the science of climate and associated global changes is an essential component of the CCSP and where appropriate should be integrated into the substantive areas in the strategic plan (e.g., Chapters 8 and 11). Ideally, the information in these chapters would be linked to the CCSP framework for international research and cooperation in Chapter 14. Specific Issues Theme 1 (goals of international cooperation in climate science) lists several goals for international research. There are additional potential benefits to enhanced U.S. leadership in cooperative international research on global change, including shared international “ownership” of results and knowledge as a prerequisite for negotiation of shared solutions in the policy arena; capacity building in terms of educated stakeholders and strengthened institutions around the world; a much larger community of scientists trained and motivated to study the problems of global change; burden sharing on the costs and resources required for observation and study of global change; and access to broader observations across the globe for testing models and our understanding of global change. The CCSP could enhance international cooperation by identifying clear research priorities, supporting projects in areas of the world that are critical for understanding climate change; and creating a managed approach to ensure maximum leverage of international efforts. The revised strategic plan would be considerably improved if these potential benefits could be prioritized to a few important strategic objectives to be used by the CCSP to guide the development of international cooperation. By including this in the revised strategic plan CCSP could provide a strong signal concerning the importance of enhanced U.S. leadership in this area. CHAPTER 15: “PROGRAM MANAGEMENT AND REVIEW” Chapter 15 describes at a very general level the mechanisms and processes that have been established to manage the program in three broad areas: (1) scientific guidance, (2) interagency planning and implementation, and (3) program integration. The management structure includes the following major components a cabinet-level Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration; an Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology; an interagency Climate Change Science Program whose draft strategic plan is the subject of this report; and an interagency Climate Change Technology Program. The chapter also describes at a very general level the processes that will be used to implement, evaluate, and guide the program (CCSP, 2002, p. 162-166) and calls for the development of a new mechanism to improve the integration of program elements. General Comments This basic management structure for the CCSP as described in Chapter 15 is sound and could provide a useful general framework for managing the program if implemented well. The details of the organizational structure and processes are not well developed in the draft plan, however. Successful coordination and integration of CCSP activities will require clearly delineated lines of authority, requisite accountability by participating agencies, and appropriate staffing and funding. As the implementing and coordinating body for this effort CCSP will require the ability to direct other agencies’ efforts and hold them accountable for performance and coordination. The success of the CCSP also will require the support and oversight of the Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration and the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology, as well as the continued guidance of independent advisory bodies. In the sections that follow, the committee provides general comments on the three main areas of program management covered in Chapter 15 (these topics are examined in more detail in Chapter 4 of Part I of this report). At the end of this section the committee offers some detailed comments on Chapter 15. Chapter 15 describes the CCSP’s plan to use scientific steering committees composed of outside experts to help plan specific program elements and to continue to receive advice and review from appropriate NRC committees and boards (CCSP, 2002, p. 163-164). Chapter 15 does not describe a similar advisory process for the program as a whole, however. The committee believes that the most difficult of the research management challenges will occur at the level of the CCSP program itself. Thus there will be a need for scientific and other stakeholder guidance at the level of the program to ensure that clear priorities are established and communicated, that progress towards meeting the subsequent goals can be evaluated, and that the inevitable tradeoffs in resources and allocation of time can be done with an eye toward meeting the most important of the overall program goals. Otherwise there will be a tendency for the individual needs and priorities of the
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Planning Climate and Global Change Research agencies to take precedence over the needs of the entire program. Chapter 15 provides a very general overview of how the program will coordinate the efforts of the 13 agencies involved in the CCSP. The CCSP itself is responsible for interagency coordination at the program level, and interagency committees of program managers for each major research element are responsible for interagency coordination and implementation at the program element level. The Interagency Working Group on Climate Change and Technology is responsible for high-level funding and program decisions. This basic management structure is sound and should provide a useful general framework for coordination among agencies. The plan does not describe the specific responsibilities and authorities of contributing departments and agencies, such as which agencies will be responsible for implementing the work. This is of particular concern for new areas of research that have not been supported by the GCRP in the past, such as land use and cover and decision support, and for crosscutting research areas, such as ecosystems, water cycle, role of the ocean, human dimensions, and international activities. The draft plan does not make clear how agency responsibilities are defined or whether there is a central point of contact within the GCRP when interfaces to the international community, such as in observing global atmospheric and oceanic variability and change, are essential. The draft plan also does not describe a mechanism that could be used to foster the participation of mission-oriented agencies in the strategic planning process. The draft strategic plan does not describe a mechanism for coordinating and integrating the activities supported by the GCRP with the needs of the CCRI. A more integrated strategic plan would reflect more consistency between the priorities of the GCRP and the short-term activities described in the CCRI parts of the plan. The program therefore must fill a major gap in the organizational structure to bring people together as needed to enable the transition of research results into operations and decision making. The draft plan also does not describe mechanisms to carry out and integrate research that are not central to the core missions of any participating agency, although it recognizes a need for such mechanisms.3 Specific Issues The introductory section of Chapter 15 begins with a very brief description of the CCSP management structure. In general the descriptions do not adequately describe the roles, responsibilities, and relationships among the various organizational elements. The addition of an organizational chart would improve the chapter considerably. The chapter does not clearly describe how the CCSP relates to the CCRI and the GCRP, or how the CCRI and the GCRP relate to each other. The description of the Interagency Working Group on Climate Change Science and Technology does not identify the lead agency for this group. The description of the Climate Change Science Program indicates that its membership consists of “representatives from all agencies that have a research mission in climate and global change,” but does not indicate the level of responsibility of its members. As noted in Chapter 3 the committee recommends broader participation in the CCSP by agencies that are likely to be users of knowledge generated by the research programs and/or that work directly with decision makers and can therefore help identify decision makers’ information needs. The Climate Change Technology Program (CCTP) is mentioned in the plan, but its responsibilities, organization, and status relative to the CCSP are not described. In order for the CCSP and the CCTP to complement and enhance each other, the links of CCTP to CCSP need to be better identified (see discussion in Chapter 4 of Part I of this report). The section of Chapter 15 on “CCSP Integration” states that “agreed-upon” criteria in certain areas will be used to determine the program’s priorities. The section does not list these criteria or describe who will be involved in developing these criteria. The section of Chapter 15 on “CCSP Integration” correctly recognizes that there will need to be a process for addressing functions that are not within the scope of any of the existing participating agencies. The section does not provide an indication of how that process will be developed, when it will be developed, or who will develop it, however. 3 “One necessary approach for addressing such integrating activities is to develop a mechanism that allows functions that are not central to the core missions of the participating agencies, but that are highly relevant, to be fostered” (CCSP, 2002, p. 165).
Representative terms from entire chapter: