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Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2005. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11175.
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B
Statement of Task

This study will examine the current state of knowledge regarding the direct and indirect radiative forcing effects of gases, aerosols, land-use, and solar variability on the climate of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere and it will identify research needed to improve our understanding of these effects. Specifically, this study will:

  1. Summarize what is known about the direct and indirect radiative effects caused by individual forcing agents, including the spatial and temporal scales over which specific forcing agents may be important;

  2. Evaluate techniques (e.g., modeling, laboratory, observations, and field experiments) used to estimate direct and indirect radiative effects of specific forcing agents;

  3. Identify key gaps in the understanding of radiative forcing effects on climate;

  4. Identify key uncertainties in projections of future radiative forcing effects on climate;

  5. Recommend near- and longer-term research priorities for improving our understanding and projections of radiative forcing effects on climate.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2005. Radiative Forcing of Climate Change: Expanding the Concept and Addressing Uncertainties. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11175.
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Changes in climate are driven by natural and human-induced perturbations of the Earth’s energy balance. These climate drivers or "forcings" include variations in greenhouse gases, aerosols, land use, and the amount of energy Earth receives from the Sun. Although climate throughout Earth’s history has varied from "snowball" conditions with global ice cover to "hothouse" conditions when glaciers all but disappeared, the climate over the past 10,000 years has been remarkably stable and favorable to human civilization. Increasing evidence points to a large human impact on global climate over the past century. The report reviews current knowledge of climate forcings and recommends critical research needed to improve understanding. Whereas emphasis to date has been on how these climate forcings affect global mean temperature, the report finds that regional variation and climate impacts other than temperature deserve increased attention.

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