BOX 3.1

Roles of a Federal Climate Change Research Program

The roles of a federal climate change research program are to

  1. Coordinate federally-sponsored research on climate, human, and related environmental systems across multiple agencies to strengthen synergies and find efficiencies

  2. Develop a research program and a strategic planning process to identify critical gaps and emerging issues and to secure the necessary resources to address them

  3. Ensure the availability of climate-quality observations and computing capacity and the development of human resources and institutions needed to address key priorities

  4. Support coordinated U.S. participation in international climate science initiatives, including global observation networks and international assessments

  5. Facilitate and, where appropriate, leverage regional, state, and local research on climate change, including monitoring and understanding the effects of adaptation and mitigation

  6. Communicate reliable, unbiased research findings and information needed to improve public understanding of climate change and support informed decisions on adaptation and mitigation

Much has been written about programs that are needed to implement the various roles listed in Box 3.1. Principles and recommendations on improving management and strategic planning (role 1) for the CCSP are discussed in NRC (2004c) and NRC (2005b). Below we discuss the management challenges that a coordinated multiagency program will face as it moves toward building the knowledge needed to inform decisions. The biggest research gap in the current program (role 2) concerns the human dimensions of global change (e.g., NRC, 1992, 2004c, 2007c), and the discussion below focuses on the importance of adaptation, mitigation, and vulnerability research to support the scientific-societal issues outlined in Chapter 2.

Priorities for space-based observations (part of role 3) for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) are identified in the National Research Council’s (NRC’s) Decadal Survey (NRC, 2007b). This chapter discusses observations that were not included in the Decadal Survey but are needed to understand the climate–human–environment system, as well as data

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