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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop UNDERSTANDING MULTIPLE Environmental STRESSES REPORT OF A WORKSHOP Committee on Earth-Atmosphere Interactions: Understanding and Responding to Multiple Environmental Stresses Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance. This study was supported by the National Science Foundation and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration under Grant No. ATM-0135923, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration under Contract No. 52-DGNA-1-90024, and the Environmental Protection Agency under Purchase Order No. 2W-0373-NANX. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the agencies that provided support for this project. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-10331-2 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-10331-2 Cover: Satellite photo of smoke emanating from large wildfires along the Alaska-Canada border and spreading across Alaska and into Siberia and the Arctic. Courtesy of NASA. Additional copies of this report are available from the National Academies Press, 500 Fifth Street, N.W., Lockbox 285, Washington, DC 20055; (800) 624-6242 or (202)334-3313 (in the Washington metropolitan area); Internet, http://www.nap.edu. Copyright 2007 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone is president of the National Academy of Sciences. The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering. The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine. The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Ralph J. Cicerone and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop COMMITTEE ON EARTH-ATMOSPHERE INTERACTIONS: UNDERSTANDING AND RESPONDING TO MULTIPLE ENVIRONMENTAL STRESSES ROSINA M. BIERBAUM (Co-chair), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MARY ANNE CARROLL (Co-chair), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor CHRISTOPHER B. FIELD, Carnegie Institution of Washington, Stanford, California EDWARD L. MILES, University of Washington, Seattle DONALD A. WILHITE, University of Nebraska, Lincoln NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Study Director MATTHEW M. RUSSELL, Associate Program Officer (until 9/2006) DIANE GUSTAFSON, Administrative Coordinator
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ROBERT J. SERAFIN (Chair), National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado M. JOAN ALEXANDER, NorthWest Research Associates/CORA, Boulder, Colorado FREDERICK R. ANDERSON, McKenna Long & Aldridge LLP, Washington, D.C. MICHAEL L. BENDER, Princeton University, New Jersey ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor MARY ANNE CARROLL, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor CAROL ANNE CLAYSON, Florida State University, Tallahassee WALTER F. DABBERDT, Vaisala Inc., Boulder, Colorado KERRY A. EMANUEL, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge DENNIS L. HARTMANN, University of Washington, Seattle PETER R. LEAVITT, Weather Information Inc., Newton, Massachusetts JENNIFER A. LOGAN, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts VERNON R. MORRIS, Howard University, Washington, D.C. F. SHERWOOD ROWLAND, University of California, Irvine THOMAS H. VONDER HAAR, Colorado State University/CIRA, Fort Collins ROGER M. WAKIMOTO, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado Ex Officio Members ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR., University of Maryland, College Park NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director AMANDA STAUDT, Senior Program Officer CURTIS MARSHALL, Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Associate Program Officer CLAUDIA MENGELT, Associate Program Officer ELIZABETH A. GALINIS, Research Associate LEAH PROBST, Research Associate ROB GREENWAY, Senior Program Assistant KATHERINE WELLER, Program Assistant DIANE GUSTAFSON, Administrative Coordinator ANDREAS SOHRE, Financial Associate
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop Preface Periodically the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) works with its federal agency partners to select a topic for a special workshop, sometimes called our “summer study.” The purpose of the workshop is to provide an opportunity for scientists, industry, and agency staff to explore current issues in an interactive format. Sometimes these workshops address practical problems, such as communicating uncertainties in weather forecasts (NRC, 2003), and other times specialized technical issues, such as improving the physical parameterizations in coupled atmosphere-ocean-land models (NRC, 2005a). Often, such as in this report, an issue is selected that might otherwise go unstudied due to the scale, scope, or tractability of the problem. The 2005 BASC workshop focused on multiple environmental stresses in the earth-atmosphere system (see Appendix A for Statement of Task). Historically, environmental problems have been studied one at a time and sector by sector (e.g., the impacts of air pollution on human health or the impacts of invasive species on fisheries). Although this approach has enabled researchers to make good progress in many areas in characterizing cause-effect environmental relationships that are linear in nature and limited in scale, it does not consider the composite effects of simultaneous environmental changes. Unless we consider robust options that solve multiple problems and prevent new ones, we may be ineffective and inefficient in our environmental efforts. Some of these issues are addressed in other National Research Council reports (e.g., NRC, 1999, 2002).
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop This workshop1 was intended as a step in identifying the types of near-term and long-term research needed to understand multiple environmental stresses and explore integrated strategies to address them. It was planned and facilitated by a five-person steering committee and was held September 29-30, 2005, at the Arnold and Mabel Beckman Center of the National Academies in Irvine, California. More than 25 experts from a variety of disciplines and perspectives, including both the natural and social sciences, attended, as well as managers and stakeholders in various sectors and regions (see Appendix B for the workshop agenda and Appendix C for the participant list). The participants were charged to explore current understanding of multiple environmental stresses in the earth-atmosphere system and to discuss the types of research needed to improve integrated understanding and response strategies for these kinds of complex, nonlinear problems. To focus the discussions, two case studies were selected and participants were assigned to come prepared with short talks on aspects of these cases; other participants were assigned to lead discussion sessions to explore the issues and generate ideas about research needs. This report is the steering committee’s summary of these presentations and the associated discussions; abstracts of the participants’ talks are included as Appendix D. The workshop was funded using support provided from the National Science Foundation, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and Environmental Protection Agency. On behalf of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate and the National Academies, I would like to express great thanks to the steering committee for its leadership and to all the workshop speakers and participants for their time and thoughtful comments. Although a workshop by definition can only explore issues and not provide truly detailed or deliberative recommendations, this workshop report should prove useful to researchers and agency program managers looking for opportunities to address these complex issues. Chris Elfring, Director Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate 1 Following standard National Academies procedures for workshops, this report captures the discussions and presentations that occurred during the two-day event; it does not contain recommendations.
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop Acknowledgments This workshop report was written by the workshop steering committee based on the presentations and discussions at the workshop, and we appreciate the input from all the participants. In addition, this report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the National Research Council’s Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: M. Joan Alexander, NorthWest Research Associates/CORA, Boulder, Colorado Eric J. Barron, University of Texas at Austin Julio Betancourt, University of Arizona, Tucson Scott C. Doney, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts Kelly T. Redmond, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada William H. Schlesinger, Duke University, Durham, North Carolina Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the conclusions or recommendations nor did they see the final draft of the report before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Elbert W. Friday, Jr., University of
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop Oklahoma. Appointed by the National Research Council, he was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop Contents SUMMARY 1 1 INTRODUCTION 5 Defining the Concept of “Multiple Stresses,” 5 The Nature of the Problem, 7 What Assessments Conclude About Research Needs, 9 Introduction to the Case Studies, 9 Nonlinearities, Thresholds, and the Vulnerability-Resilience Continuum, 10 2 DROUGHT 15 Context and Impacts, 19 Understanding Vulnerability and Response Strategies, 21 Drought Policy and Preparedness, 22 Research Needs, 24 3 ATMOSPHERE-ECOSYSTEM INTERACTIONS 27 Context and Impacts, 28 Impacts on Humans, Ecosystems, and Economies, 31 Policy Options: Adaptation and Mitigation, 32 Research Needs, 33
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Understanding Multiple Environmental Stresses: Report of a Workshop 4 LESSONS LEARNED FROM THE CASE STUDIES 36 Comprehensive Reginal Frameworks, 37 A Web of Integrated Sensors, 38 Regional Information Systems, 38 Framework for Process Studies, 39 Improving Our Predictive Capability, 39 Research Needs Related to Nonlinearities and Thresholds, 41 Research Needs Related to Increasing Resilience, 42 Research Needs Related to Regional Studies, 43 Near-Term Opportunities, 44 REFERENCES 49 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task 53 B Workshop Agenda 54 C Workshop Participants 57 D Extended Speaker Abstracts 59 E Committee Biosketches 139