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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

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

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Additional copies of this report are available from the

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Copyright 2010 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine


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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

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

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
×

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

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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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.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2010. Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12965.
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The stresses associated with climate change are expected to be felt keenly as human population grows to a projected 9 billion by the middle of this century, increasing the demand for resources and supporting infrastructure. Therefore, information to assess vulnerabilities to climate change is needed to support policies and investments designed to increase resilience in human and Earth systems.

There are currently many observing systems that capture elements of how climate is changing, for example, direct measurements of atmospheric and ocean temperature. Although those measurements are essential for understanding the scale and nature of climate change, they do not necessarily provide information about the impacts of climate change on humans that are especially relevant for political and economic planning and decision making.

Monitoring Climate Change Impacts tackles the challenge of developing an illustrative suite of indicators, measurements (and the locations around the globe where the measurements can be applied), and metrics that are important for understanding global climate change and providing insight into environmental sustainability. Eight panels provided input on: 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 book also provides an illustrative set of metrics that are likely to be affected by climate change over the next 20-25 years and, when taken together, can potentially give advance warning of climate-related changes to the human and environment systems.

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