Appendix B
Working Document Topical Panel Breakouts

Climate, Energy, and National Security: Topical Panels

May 20-21 and June 24-25, 2009

San Francisco, CA

Please note that the format of the tables and definitions evolved over time as the committee did its work

PURPOSE

The goal of the first meetings of the Topical Panels is to develop a preliminary list of indicators of environmental sustainability, in each of the eight Topical areas covered by the Panels. The first day of each meeting will include invited presentations to discuss these concepts in detail and prepare the members of the Panels for the breakout sessions, where they will generate preliminary lists and supporting information. This working document will assist the Panels in completing the breakout task.


A brief summary of definitions is followed by a table to be completed during the breakout sessions. When completed, this table will contain a list of indicators for monitoring environmental sustainability in a given Panel’s Topical area and supporting information. For each indicator proposed, completing the table requires providing information in six categories (columns):

  • Working title for the proposed indicator

  • The relevant environmental system

  • The measurements required to construct the indicator

  • Application to monitoring changes in the environmental system

  • Why is the indicator a good indicator of sustainability?

  • Priority locations for component measurements

The second row of the table provides key questions that the Panels should consider in completing the supporting information for a given indicator.



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Appendix B Working Document Topical Panel Breakouts Climate, Energy, and National Security: Topical Panels May 20-21 and June 24-25, 2009 San Francisco, CA Please note that the format of the tables and definitions evolved over time as the committee did its work PURPOSE The goal of the first meetings of the Topical Panels is to develop a preliminary list of indicators of environmental sustainability, in each of the eight Topical areas covered by the Panels. The first day of each meeting will include invited presentations to discuss these concepts in detail and prepare the members of the Panels for the breakout sessions, where they will generate preliminary lists and supporting information. This working document will assist the Panels in completing the breakout task. A brief summary of definitions is followed by a table to be completed during the breakout sessions. When completed, this table will contain a list of indicators for monitoring environmental sustainability in a given Panel’s Topical area and supporting information. For each indicator proposed, completing the table requires providing information in six categories (columns): Working title for the proposed indicator The relevant environmental system The measurements required to construct the indicator Application to monitoring changes in the environmental system Why is the indicator a good indicator of sustainability? Priority locations for component measurements The second row of the table provides key questions that the Panels should consider in completing the supporting information for a given indicator. 86

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Appendix B 87 After completing the table, the Panel is to enter a concise (one-page) summary describing how the proposed indicators are relevant to the subject of monitoring environmental sustainability in the Panel’s Topical area. This description should reflect that the proposed list of indicators represents a step beyond previous efforts to develop lists of measurements for monitoring changes in the physical climate system. Using the information entered into this working document during the breakout sessions, the Topical Panel Leads will author a report on the subject of indicators of environmental sustainability. This document will take the form of a consensus NRC report and be produced via standard NRC procedures for report review and publication. The document will offer the proposed environmental sustainability indicators in the context of measurements that should be given priority in consideration of a coordinated climate observing strategy. WORKING DEFINITIONS The following definitions are offered to facilitate the work of the Topical Panels during the breakout sessions. These definitions are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. Many of these terms will be discussed in greater detail during the meeting plenary, which includes invited presentations by experts in the development and application of these terms. Sustainability: The ability of a coupled human-environment system to function effectively without major disruption for a period of time. Source: Presentation by Pam Matson and Tom Parris Environmental Sustainability (in the context of a changing climate): The ability of an environmental system to maintain processes, functions, biodiversity, and productivity in a changing climate and under additional influences resulting from the possible implementation of strategies to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. Source: ongoing discussions with President of the NAS Climate Change Indicator: Earth processes related to regimes requiring long-term monitoring to assess trends that are related to changes in the normal distribution of climate patterns. Source: Scitor report Environmental Indicator: A parameter, or a value derived from parameters, which points to, provides information about, describes the state of a phenomenon/environment/area, with a significance extending beyond that directly associated from a parameter value. Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development An environmental indicator is a numerical value that helps provide insight into the state of the environment or human health. Indicators are developed based on quantitative measurements or statistics of environmental conditions that are tracked over time.

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88 Appendix B Environmental indicators can be developed and used at a wide variety of geographic scales, from local to regional to national levels. Source:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency. Measurement: The physical parameters that are the essential elements of information needed to construct an indicator via physical, empirical, or stochastic models. Source: Scitor report Observation: The physical properties detected by an instrument that are used to calculate point-in-time estimates of a given measurement via physical, empirical or stochastic models. Source: Scitor report.

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WORKING TABLE FOR COMPLETION DURING TOPICAL PANEL BREAKOUT SESSIONS Indicator Environmental Measurements Monitoring Changes Why Is This Indicator a Good Priority Locations for Systema in Environmental indicator of Sustainability? Component System Measurements Working title for an About which List the individual variables Will the indicator provide Why is this indicator a good Key locations around the indicator of environmental systems that must be measured or information relevant to indicator of sustainability? globe for making the environmental will the proposed indicator inferred from observations to monitoring changes in the measurements necessary to sustainability provide information? construct the indicator. environmental system? construct indicator. Environmental systems NOT the “engineering What changes? Include locations for “taking include but are not limited quantities” or the signal the pulse” of the planet to to the components of the directly detected by an Changes may or may not ascertain environmental physical earth system. instrument or sensor. be caused by human sustainability. activities. a The term “environmental system” is used here to reflect the use of the term “environmental sustainability,” which for this purpose refers to the environmental component of the broader concept of sustainability. Broadly speaking, sustainability includes Human- Environment Systems (HES) and the interfaces among the components of HES. An environmental system may consist of one of the components of the earth system reflected in the topical panel areas, subcomponents of those areas, and interfaces among them. SUMMARY THOUGHTS Please provide a brief (one-page) synopsis of your panel’s thoughts, including why the proposed list of indicators is sufficient for assessing and monitoring environmental sustainability in your topical area. The synopsis should speak to how the proposed indicators represent a step beyond previous efforts to develop indicators that are limited to monitoring climate change and explain how the indicators facilitate monitoring the sustainability of environmental systems.