MONITORING CLIMATE CHANGE IMPACTS

Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems

Committee on Indicators for Understanding Global Climate Change

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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Committee on Indicators for Understanding Global Climate Change Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies The National Academies Press Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu

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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 United States intelligence community. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the intelligence community or any of its sub-agencies. International Standard Book Number-13: 978-0-309-15871-8 International Standard Book Number-10: 0-309-15871-0 Limited copies of this report are available from the program office: Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 (202) 334-3512 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 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. Printed in the United States of America

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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. Charles M. Vest 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. Charles M. Vest are chair and vice chair, respectively, of the National Research Council. www.national-academies.org

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COMMITTEE ON INDICATORS FOR UNDERSTANDING GLOBAL CLIMATE CHANGE MARK R. ABBOTT (Chair), Oregon State University, Corvallis ROBERT A. BINDSCHADLER (Vice Chair), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland RITA COLWELL, University of Maryland, College Park JEFF DOZIER, University of California, Santa Barbara DARRELL G. HERD, Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM HOOKE, American Meteorological Society, Washington, D.C. JOHN A. ORCUTT, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California HERMAN H. SHUGART, University of Virginia, Charlottesville STEVEN WOFSY, Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director CURTIS MARSHALL, Study Director (until October 2009) KATHERINE WELLER, Associate Program Officer RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant v

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CLIMATE, ENERGY, AND NATIONAL SECURITY TOPICAL PANELS Panel on Atmosphere STEVEN WOFSY (Chair), Harvard University, Cambridge, Massachusetts MICHAEL J. PRATHER, University of California, Irvine SCOTT SANDGATHE, University of Washington, Seattle CHRISTOPHER S. VELDEN, University of Wisconsin, Madison Panel on Oceans (Biological and Chemical) MARK R. ABBOTT (Chair), Oregon State University, Corvallis ROBERT A. DUCE, Texas A&M University, College Station SHARON L. SMITH, University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida ROBERT TWILLEY, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge Panel on the Cryosphere ROBERT A. BINDSCHADLER (Chair), NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland KENNETH JEZEK, The Ohio State University, Columbus RON KWOK, Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Pasadena, California NORBERT UNTERSTEINER, University of Washington, Seattle H. JAY ZWALLY, NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland Panel on Human Health and Other Dimensions RITA COLWELL (Chair), University of Maryland, College Park JONATHAN A. PATZ, University of Wisconsin, Madison JEFFREY SHAMAN, Oregon State University, Corvallis DOUGLAS S. WAY, MDA Federal, Rockville, Maryland THOMAS J. WILBANKS, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Tennessee Panel on Hydrology and Water Resources JEFF DOZIER (Chair), University of California, Santa Barbara JAMES S. FAMIGLIETTI, University of California, Irvine DENNIS P. LETTENMAIER, University of Washington, Seattle DIANE M. MCKNIGHT, University of Colorado, Boulder Panel on Land-Surface and Terrestrial Ecosystems HERMAN H. SHUGART (Chair), University of Virginia, Charlottesville DAVID LOBELL, Stanford University, California JERRY M. MELILLO, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, Massachusetts DAVID B. WAKE, University of California, Berkeley CURTIS WOODCOCK, Boston University, Cambridge, Massachusetts Panel on Natural Disasters DARRELL G. HERD (Chair), Defense Intelligence Agency, Washington, D.C. WILLIAM H. HOOKE, American Meteorological Society, Washington, D.C. JAMES B. HULL, Texas Forest Service, College Station vi

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THOMAS B. MCCORD, The Bear Fight Center, Winthrop, Washington JAMES T. RANDERSON, University of California, Irvine DEBORAH S.K. THOMAS, University of Colorado, Denver Panel on Oceans (Physical) JOHN A. ORCUTT (Chair), Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California D. JAMES BAKER, Global Carbon Measurement Program, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania OTIS B. BROWN, JR., University of Miami, Coral Gables, Florida WALTER H. MUNK, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director KATIE WELLER, Associate Program Officer RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator vii

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BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE ANTONIO J. BUSALACCHI, JR. (Chair, beginning September 2009), University of Maryland, College Park ROSINA M. BIERBAUM, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor RICHARD CARBONE, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado WALTER F. DABBERDT, Vaisala, Inc., Boulder, Colorado KIRSTIN DOW, University of South Carolina, Columbia GREG S. FORBES, The Weather Channel, Inc., Atlanta, Georgia ISAAC HELD, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Princeton, New Jersey ARTHUR LEE, Chevron Corporation, San Ramon, California RAYMOND T. PIERREHUMBERT, University of Chicago, Illinois KIMBERLY PRATHER, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California KIRK R. SMITH, University of California, Berkeley JOHN T. SNOW, University of Oklahoma, Norman THOMAS H. VONDER HAAR, Colorado State University/CIRA, Fort Collins XUBIN ZENG, University of Arizona, Tucson Ex Officio Member GERALD A. MEEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Senior Program Officer ED DUNLEA, Senior Program Officer TOBY WARDEN, Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Associate Program Officer KATIE WELLER, Associate Program Officer JOSEPH CASOLA, Postdoctoral Fellow RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator LAUREN A. BROWN, Research Associate ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY FREELAND, Senior Program Assistant AMANDA PURCELL, Senior Program Assistant RICARDO PAYNE, Senior Program Assistant JANEISE STURDIVANT, Program Assistant SHUBHA BANSKOTA, Financial Associate viii

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Preface In early 2008, the National Academy of Sciences began a series of activities to facilitate the increased involvement of scientists in answering questions related to climate and environmental change, energy, natural disasters, and national security. The goal is to advance scientific understanding of global climate change and other environmental and disaster-related phenomena, while considering the implications of this understanding for U.S. national security. As part of a suite of activities on climate, energy, and national security, the National Research Council (NRC) appointed the Committee on Indicators for Understanding Global Climate Change, which was tasked with identifying indicators that can increase the understanding of global climate change and environmental sustainability (see Appendix A for Statement of Task). To begin, the committee sought input from a broad cross-section of physical, biological, and social scientists engaged in research in areas broadly related to environmental sustainability and climate change. Eight panels provided input (see pages v and vi for membership): cryosphere, land-surface and terrestrial ecosystems, hydrology and water resources, atmosphere, human health and other dimensions, oceans (both physical and biological/chemical), and natural disasters. The panels identified measurements and then metrics that, in their expert judgment, could serve as useful indicators. The panels also suggested illustrative locations around the globe where measurements of the underlying observations could be gathered. The exercise was intended to draw upon the scientific imagination of the participants and not the capabilities of any particular observing platform. What follows in this report is the committee’s judgment of potential key metrics for monitoring climate change with an eye toward environmental sustainability. The committee would like to thank Ric Cicone, Pam Matson, and Tom Parris for sharing their knowledge of environmental sustainability with the committee and panels. We would also like to thank the members of the topical panels for their hard work and dedication throughout the process and the writing of this report. The tables of indicators of climate change that they provided are an integral part of this report. Our sincerest thanks are extended to BASC Director Chris Elfring, Study Director Curtis Marshall, Associate Program Officer Katie Weller, Administrative Coordinator Rita Gaskins, and Senior Program Assistant Ricardo Payne for facilitating the committee process and the production of this report. Mark Abbott, Chair Committee on Indicators for Understanding Global Climate Change ix

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Acknowledgments 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 NRC’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 participation in the review of this report: Kristen Ebi, ESS LLC., Stanford, California Gerry Galloway, University of Maryland, College Park Peter H. Gleick, Pacific Institute, LLC, Oakland, California Robert Hirsch, U.S. Geological Survey, Reston, Virginia Kristina Katsaros, Retired, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Freeland, Washington Aqqaluk Lynge, Inuit Circumpolar Council, Greenland Clair Parkinson, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Greenbelt, Maryland Tom Parris, iSciences, Burlington, Vermont Tom Romesser, Northrop Grumman, Redondo Beach, California Eugene Rosa, Washington State University, Pullman Steve Running, University of Montana, Missoula Ronald Smith, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut Karl Turekian, Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut 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 Mary Albert, Dartmouth College, Hanover, New Hampshire, appointed by the Division on Earth and Life Studies, and Robert E. Dickinson, University of Texas, Austin, appointed by the Report Review Committee, who were 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. xi

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xiii Contents SUMMARY……………………………………………………………………….1 1 INTRODUCTION ...................................................................................................5 Climate Change as an Environmental Stressor........................................................7 The Committee’s Challenge ....................................................................................8 2 DOMAINS OF HUMAN VULNERABILITY AND GLOBAL-SCALE PROCESSES..........................................................................................................13 Food .......................................................................................................................13 Water......................................................................................................................16 Energy ....................................................................................................................21 “Shelter” and Natural Disasters .............................................................................22 Human Health ........................................................................................................24 Earth System Linkages to Global Climate Change and Environmental Sustainability.................................................................................25 3 CLIMATE CHANGE METRICS AT THE INTERSECTION OF THE HUMAN AND EARTH SYSTEMS.......................................................29 Oceanography ........................................................................................................30 Land-Surface and Terrestrial Ecosystems .............................................................36 Cryosphere .............................................................................................................43 Atmosphere ............................................................................................................49 Hydrology ..............................................................................................................54 Natural Disasters....................................................................................................60 Human Health and Other Dimensions ..................................................................68 4 FINAL THOUGHTS .............................................................................................77 REFERENCES ......................................................................................................79 APPENDIXES A Statement of Task ..................................................................................................85 B Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts ......................................................86 C Committee and Staff Biosketches..........................................................................90 xiii

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