ing actions needed to shape and implement the USGCRP over the coming decade. The Research Imperatives also set the direction and the metric to measure progress within the program.

Finding 1.1: Consideration of the identified Research Imperatives, case studies, and lessons extracted from two decades of research leads to the finding that vital improvements are possible in the execution of global change research. A large number of the most important advances in understanding the Earth system and in applying the findings to key policy questions have emerged from innovative combinations of individuals, observations, and modeling that attack specific questions. For example, the El Niño-Southern Oscillation/Tropical Oceans and Global Atmosphere program laid the groundwork for operational predictions to support natural resource decisions, and the stratospheric ozone research programs set the scientific foundation for the Montreal Protocol.

Fundamental scientific progress in the future will hinge on critical decisions about the character of the scientific program and the associated essential observations. Resources have been most effectively utilized when applied in ways that strengthen the link between primary unanswered questions and the nation's intellectual resources, that improve the potential for technical innovations, that provide educational and public outreach opportunities, and that serve the vital information needs of decision makers.

Finding 1.2: Within each of the six topical themes identified in this report to further understanding of global change, the specific central scientific issues listed below must be confronted.

Finding 1.2a: Within Changes in the Biology and Biogeochemistry of Ecosystems, the following central scientific issues must be confronted:

  • Understand the relationships between land surface processes, including land-cover change, climate, and weather prediction.

  • Understand the changing global biogeochemical cycles of carbon and nitrogen.

  • Understand the responses of ecosystems to multiple stresses.

  • Understand the relationship between changing biological diversity and ecosystem function.

Finding 1.2b: Within Changes in the Climate System on Seasonal to Interannual Timescales, the following central scientific issues must be confronted:

  • Maintain and improve the capability to make ENSO predictions.

  • Define global seasonal to interannual variability, especially the global monsoon systems, and understand the extent to which it is predictable.

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