sets must be targeted for study to improve our understanding of the non-linear global dynamics of the complex interactive climate system—for instance, the interactions between the wind-driven and thermohaline circulations are poorly understood.

  • To permit accurate data/model comparisons, both observational data and the model output must be subjected to the same processing.

  • Easier access to existing computers must be available to facilitate wider participation in modeling efforts, and higher-speed, larger-memory computers must be developed to make possible more highly resolved models, longer simulations, and more careful sensitivity studies.

Records of past climate change, particularly those reflecting the pre-industrial era, must be actively addressed as a source of valuable new data on the natural component of climate variability. The following approaches are recommended:

  • The coverage provided by existing proxy indicators must be expanded so that they yield regional, even global, information.

  • Interpretations of proxy indicators currently in use must be continually evaluated for possible improvements; the associated uncertainties and limitations must be assessed and problems identified.

  • New proxy indicators of climate must be developed to permit cross-checking of data derived from proxy records currently in use.

  • Efforts to locate and fully exploit the wealth of information contained in historical records must be supported.

Climate data must be properly archived, and made readily and freely available to researchers worldwide. Exchange of model-derived information, data from in situ observations, and proxy-record knowledge is an overarching concern. Solutions to the most challenging and important research problems depend greatly on the integration of data from all these sources.

In order to further explore the research priorities that follow from the four key science questions noted earlier, the CRC has established a panel on decade-to-century-scale natural climate variability. The DEC-CEN panel will explore critical scientific questions and issues relating to ocean-atmosphere-land-cryosphere-biosphere interactions and long-term climate change, both natural and anthropogenic. The panel will examine national and international long-range policy, plans, and progress in all these areas. DEC-CEN will then develop not only a basis for determining U.S. research priorities and applications, but a strategy for addressing them in the context of current and planned programs designed to obtain climate-related information.

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