National Academies Press: OpenBook

Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems (2010)

Chapter: Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts

« Previous: Appendix A: Statement of Task
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×

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.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×

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.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×

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.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×

WORKING TABLE FOR COMPLETION DURING

TOPICAL PANEL BREAKOUT SESSIONS

Indicator

Environmental Systema

Measurements

Monitoring Changes in Environmental System

Why Is This Indicator a Good indicator of Sustainability?

Priority Locations for Component Measurements

Working title for an indicator of environmental sustainability

About which environmental systems will the proposed indicator provide information?

List the individual variables that must be measured or inferred from observations to construct the indicator.

Will the indicator provide information relevant to monitoring changes in the environmental system?

Why is this indicator a good indicator of sustainability?

Key locations around the globe for making the measurements necessary to construct indicator.

 

Environmental systems include but are not limited to the components of the physical earth system.

NOT the “engineering quantities” or the signal directly detected by an instrument or sensor.

What changes?

 

Include locations for “taking the pulse” of the planet to ascertain environmental sustainability.

 

Changes may or may not be caused by human activities.

aThe 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.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×
Page 86
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×
Page 87
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×
Page 88
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Working Document: Topical Panel Breakouts." 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.
×
Page 89
Next: Appendix C: Committee and Staff Biosketches »
Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems Get This Book
×
Buy Paperback | $40.00 Buy Ebook | $31.99
MyNAP members save 10% online.
Login or Register to save!
Download Free PDF

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.

  1. ×

    Welcome to OpenBook!

    You're looking at OpenBook, NAP.edu's online reading room since 1999. Based on feedback from you, our users, we've made some improvements that make it easier than ever to read thousands of publications on our website.

    Do you want to take a quick tour of the OpenBook's features?

    No Thanks Take a Tour »
  2. ×

    Show this book's table of contents, where you can jump to any chapter by name.

    « Back Next »
  3. ×

    ...or use these buttons to go back to the previous chapter or skip to the next one.

    « Back Next »
  4. ×

    Jump up to the previous page or down to the next one. Also, you can type in a page number and press Enter to go directly to that page in the book.

    « Back Next »
  5. ×

    Switch between the Original Pages, where you can read the report as it appeared in print, and Text Pages for the web version, where you can highlight and search the text.

    « Back Next »
  6. ×

    To search the entire text of this book, type in your search term here and press Enter.

    « Back Next »
  7. ×

    Share a link to this book page on your preferred social network or via email.

    « Back Next »
  8. ×

    View our suggested citation for this chapter.

    « Back Next »
  9. ×

    Ready to take your reading offline? Click here to buy this book in print or download it as a free PDF, if available.

    « Back Next »
Stay Connected!