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:

  1. Does the plan reflect current scientific and technical understanding?

  2. Are the objectives clear and appropriate?

  3. 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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