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Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document (2016)

Chapter: Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members

« Previous: Appendix C: Committee Biographies
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×

Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members

Comments in this section were prepared by individual Committee members. These generally reflect more specific conceptual or editorial points.

Executive Summary

  • P. 4, Para 1: Mention infestations spread (pine beetle), disease spread/vector changes, etc…not just physical and heat. How about ocean acidification?
  • P. 4, Line 13 “Prepare for them” implies adaptation only, vs “prevent and prepare”?
  • P. 4, line 21-24: Need to do more than observe, model, and understand a changing climate; there is a critical need for the Nation to be able to prepare for possible impacts.
  • P. 4, Line 28: Only adaptation mentioned.
  • P. 4, line 28: Scope of NCA seems to be limited to adaptation.
  • P. 4, line 29-30: Any other data being made available?
  • P. 5, line 14: It would be helpful to include a table of some key accomplishments in the executive summary.
  • P. 5, line 19: And how could this information be used to support decision making?
  • P. 5, Downscaling should be in line 21, not 22.
  • P. 5, line 25: Who decides which models are appropriate (and how)?
  • P. 5, What does “they” refer to in line 34.

Chapter 1

  • P. 6-8: The introduction serves to recognize the many streams of contributions to the Strategic Plan, from across the government and beyond. If the intent it to reach a general reader, it would be helpful to add a box highlighting important components contributed by the 13 participating agencies. This would inevitably raise the profile of some efforts and ignore many others, but it would also leaven the complicated and often bureaucratic prose of the current draft––as valuable as that is for the internal purposes of the federal agencies.
  • P. 6, line 17: Here it is stated that the Update alone is focused on climate, but some recognition of other the broader global change question is in order.
  • p. 7, line 3-12: It would be helpful to more specifically describe how this information would inform decisions.
  • p. 7, line 22: What does the ability to use seasonal climate predictions allow?
  • p. 7, line 30-32: It would be helpful to link this with how this helps the Nation prepare for and better manage the risks of climate change.
  • p. 8: line 1-3: Some illustrative examples would be helpful.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×

Chapter 2

  • p. 9, line 25-28: Scope of “global change” limited to economy (not society) and natural resources (not nature or life-support systems) as affected by climate change (not other components of global change).
  • P. 10, line 4: “Science can be harvested for decision support”—passive voice leaves unclear who is doing the harvesting. Use seems like the right concept here, and the user should be involved in identifying what is useful. A better wording might be “These foci set priorities for the Program, so as to advance the understanding of global change and to enable the Program to work constructively with users so that the emerging understanding informs decisions effectively.”
  • P. 10, line 25. Replace policy with decision.
  • P. 11, line 6-44: Would be clearer to present as two bullet lists.
  • P. 11, line 15-16: “USGCRP alone” is unclear. Does this mean that the federal global change effort (including individual agencies) cannot provide what’s needed (e.g., because other nations’ science is essential for downscaling)—or that USGCRP is inadequate but the federal government can do this?
  • P. 11, 16-26: Plan could talk about resiliency, resilient pathways that account for adaptation and mitigation.
  • P. 11, line 34-35: It could be helpful to identify some of the challenges.
  • P. 11, Box: Is this the data needed for decision making? Why and how? One could argue the extent to which the climate and health report substantially advances understanding; it synthesizes published information.

Chapter 3

  • P. 12, line 5: “Foster” is odd. How about “Build”?
  • P. 12, line 7-8: Social science is necessary to do this.
  • P. 12: Within this section (Goal 1) it seems like the NSF Water Sustainabiity & Climate Program, which hits several of these Objectives directly, could be cited as a prime example of recent USGCRP investments.
  • P. 13, line 14: Seems very generic. Could the writing be more specific/substantiate the assertion?

Objective 1.1

  • P. 13, line 42: The structure of the “Building On Progress” Sections, here and those that follow are not standardized and only partially link to the trio of issues (bullets on p. 10). Thus water is no systematically mentioned despite the expectation set-out on p. 10 (see Section 2.4 of this report).
  • P. 13, line 47: What is meant by tipping point is not clear. Consider adding an example of a tipping point (end of an ice age?). Indeed, it might be better to put the discussion of thresholds after the subsection on long-term datasets, since it is those that define what a tipping point is.
  • P. 14, line 2: The report needs to substantiate this...use an example or two.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • P. 14, line 35: A recognition here of USGS long-term stream gauge records seems relevant.
  • P. 14, line 48-51: This sentence is particularly troublesome. For a decision maker who needs to adapt to a changing climate, why is it so important to understand human versus natural contributions? What seems to be missing in the discussion is the articulation of the change in thinking about how one characterizes attribution, i.e., to the probability of occurrence of events (heat waves, droughts, storms, precipitation extremes, etc.) in a warmer world compared to an early 20th century world. Discussion of this point can be more straightforward: which weather patterns can be attributed, in whole or part, to human-caused changes in climate?
  • P. 15, lines 24-26: How is this different from the existing analyses? What additional value will it add?
  • P. 16, line 4: Explain in a few words how carbon cycle and ecological modeling fit together.
  • P. 17, line 17: Might wish to highlight investments in satellite systems (even if failed, e.g., SMAP) and USGS real-time and archival station data base.
  • P. 17, line 35-47: Commendably open statement, though interest in social sciences seems to be aspirational still.
  • P. 17, line 38: To the Committee’s knowledge, there has been a de-funding of Arctic Social Sciences based on whims of Congressional oversight. This is certainly a challenge to be navigated. Some carefully worded text—sensitive to the politics in play—is nonetheless in order.
  • P. 17, line 38-39: This could be highlighted in the executive summary.
  • P. 18, line 5-6: Is there a typo here? “community and plot scale” does not make sense.
  • P. 18, line 12: This seems like an odd add-on, the river basins modifier, that is.

Objective 1.2

  • P. 18, line 18: Philosophically?
  • Page 18; line 23: Global Change is more than just the carbon cycle.
  • P. 18, line 27: What are the specific mitigation strategies that are resulting in intervention?
  • P. 18, line 32: A statement is here needed on how to coordinate such research.
  • P. 18, line 40-42: Why is this activity listed under mitigation? It’s more of an impact
  • P. 18, line 47-49: An example would be helpful.
  • P. 19, lines 13-18: Give an example.
  • P. 19, line 20: These are not models for decision making.
  • P. 19; lines 28-33: Include mitigation in the decision sphere.
  • P. 19; line 39: Again limited to adaptation responses vs more comprehensive.
  • P. 19, line 41-44: At what scale?
  • P. 19, lines 46-50: An example would be helpful.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • P. 20, line 7+ : This section could use a discussion of data needs, short-term to describe current vulnerability and long-term to understand possible future vulnerabilities.
  • P. 20; lines 13-14: Why limited to adaptation decisions only?
  • P. 20, line 25-28 / line 40-41: The Nation needs useful information, not just to have information that can be used. It could be helpful to discuss how communication can support informed decision making.
  • P. 20, line 29: Indigenous knowledge is not really applied research.
  • P. 20, line 40ff: Discussion of urban opportunities points to catalytic efforts by USGCRP. It would be helpful to bring out the added value of USGCRP in the earlier topical subsections on modeling and translational research.
  • P. 21, line 10: Seems to ignore the whole biofuels question, which includes important H2O linkage issues. In fact biofuels is mentioned not a single time in the whole report.
  • P. 22, line 1: Decision makers need more than climate information.
  • P. 22, lines 11-13: Who are the decision makers? Throughout the document the report refers to decision makers but it is unclear as to who they are.
  • P. 22, line 11-13: Good. Although this is a major focus of Goal 2, it’s great to have this sentence.
  • P. 22, line 19-22: What are the mitigation technologies? Why do we keep referring to mitigation technologies if the topic is outside the charter of the committee?
  • P. 22, line 21: Somewhere in this section could be a mention of the analysis of “energy-for-water” and “water-for-energy.”
  • P. 22, line 40-42: ?? Should we be flagging things like this throughout and asking for public comment?

Objective 1.3

  • P. 23, line 5: Human systems are more than land-use change (mentioned later in this section, such as page 28, line 32).
  • P. 24, line 33-47: “Leveraging International…” includes a long list of coordinating mechanisms (that are repeated in the international section). Nothing is stated about what is being coordinated with these groups, or how coordination is occurring and is reflected in the program’s priorities.
  • P. 25, line 19: Both sustaining time series and developing partnerships (next paragraph) provide opportunities for social scientists to contribute to the work of USGCRP. Assessing the value of time series is a problem addressed in the economic theory describing the value of information. The social dynamics of partnerships, in which partners have differing commitments to continuity, precision, and accuracy of observations, is another area in which sociologists studying networks could make pragmatically valuable contributions.

Objective 1.4

  • P. 26, line 19: Strangely, no nexus studies mentioned (energy-food-water-climate).
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • P. 26, line 22-23: GCMs and ESMs are not the only members of the modeling community.
  • P. 26, line 36: There is a tacit assumption that more resolution means better models. There certainly are contrasting views that hold that requisite process understanding to support work at that scale is lacking, as well as computational burden issues, etc.

Objective 1.5

  • P. 29, line 3: No mention of the NOAA-National Water Center, which has data provision responsibilities. From their prospectus: “Scientists at the Center will collaboratively research, develop and deliver state-of-the-science national hydrologic analyses, forecast information, data, decision-support services and guidance to support and inform essential emergency services and high-value water management decisions.“
  • P. 30, line 6: Some recognition of non-governmental data consortia could be made here (CUAHSI-HIS [Hydrologic Information System]), which both uses and creates value-added products from agency data sets.
  • P. 30, line 16+: Need for vulnerability data.

Goals 2, 3, and 4

  • P. 31, line 29: “Easily accessible and useful” is a distortion of the spirit of actionable science. Typically, the knowledge needed to make a good decision is not obvious nor ready to hand. It must be found, often through co-production of (usable) knowledge.
  • P. 31, line 29-32: Who are the decision makers/users?
  • P. 31, line 44: Showing the integration with Goal 1 would be very helpful. Fundamental research is not just in climate science.
  • P. 32, line 3: Just climate science?
  • P. 32, line 32-34: Again, not just climate science.

Goal 2

  • P. 33, line 3-25: This would be helpful framing in the Introduction.
  • P. 33, line 17: Not just climate science needed for adaptation decisions.
  • P. 33, line 21: Also, need to know about likely future socioeconomic stresses.
  • P. 33, line 22-25: Expand as to what has been done to date
  • P. 33, line 27ff: The substance of this paragraph is correct, but the role of the member agencies is not brought out, and that obscures the real contribution of USGCRP. Interaction with users occurs mainly through the agencies’ existing networks of constituents. USGCRP plays a key role in synthesizing questions being asked, in a form that can guide work on Goal 1 across the government. USGCRP also promotes clearer, more coherent discussion of risk and vulnerability, so that stakeholders working with different agencies receive consistent and helpful
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • perspective on scientific knowledge and uncertainties. To bring out these USGCRP roles, the roles of the agencies should be discussed more, though briefly.

  • P. 33, line 28-30: Expand as to what has been done to date.
  • P. 33, line 35: Not just climate science.
  • P. 34, line 5: Goal #1 had its Objectives explained in more detail under “Building on Progress”. The report would benefit from some standardization. The headers here do no correspond to the Objectives of Goal #2.
  • P. 34, line 25-28: This could be discussed in Goal 1.
  • P. 34, line 48: Not just climate science translation.
  • P. 35, line 4+: Challenges also exist in vulnerability science, including long-term data sets.
  • P. 35, line 9ff: The “threat multiplier” example is a good one. It is worth noting, in addition, that an important contribution of USGCRP lies in understanding and communicating opportunities in which a specific agency-focused research enterprise provides benefits beyond the scope of the agency’s perceived mandate. Studies of wetland function in the coastal zone, for example, have contributed to an understanding of the way that natural functions of coastal ecosystems bring economic benefits and protection to human communities. The broader lesson is that global change research does not have to be comprehensive or integrated to bring significant social benefit.
  • P. 35, line 16-17: This is an example where the statement is vague as exactly what the plan is; statements like this are found throughout the report.

Goal 3

  • P. 36, line 42: “Sequentially”? Isn’t the point that the assessments will be done as the ripening of understanding warrants? One has the impression, reading the discussion of Goal 3, that the task of sustained assessment remains indistinct.
  • P. 37, line 49-51: Other drivers, such as urbanization, also are needed (see SSPs).
  • P. 37, line 6-16: It could be appropriate to take a more nuanced approach to describing the climate and human health report. Some chapters were primarily written by federal agencies, with limited engagement of the scientific community. This approach resulted in an uneven document. Also, the report summarizes published literature, not necessarily increasing understanding.
  • P. 38, line 6-10: Not just climate science.
  • P. 38, line 25: This subject keeps coming up (e.g., p. 34). If deemed important, it might merit its own Box graphic to highlight the need. Appearing repeatedly (but inconsistently) detracts from its presumed necessity.
  • P. 38: line 46: Not just climate science.

Goal 4

  • P. 40, line 5: How will stakeholders be engaged?
  • P. 40, line 10: Not just climate literacy.
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • P. 40, line 20: Same observation as before re: non-parallism under “Building on Progress” vis a vis this Goal’s Objectives vs the headers that are given immediately below.
  • P. 40, line 31-32 and 45-49: Basic research in sociology and international relations on a) knowledge formation and transmission through networks, and b) collaborative action among partners that retain their organizational identity and separate missions could contribute to the mission of USGCRP by improving understanding of co-production of knowledge (decision support). Such research, conducted via NSF and through applied programs in USDA, Interior, and NOAA, would be modest in cost but could yield benefits within the time frame of the Strategic Plan.
  • P. 41, line 26: Seems “thin” compared to preceding sections of text.
  • P. 41, lines 36-42: This is a very important area but don’t see a specific recommendation. Could the report ask for public comments on this?
  • P. 41, line 44-45: This is a challenge that could be highlighted in the executive summary.
  • P. 42, line 7-8: Not just climate science.
  • P. 42, line 13: The preceding paragraphs read as though there are immense needs, yet this paragraph suggests the solutions are already in place and working. Seems to me contradictory.

Chapter 4

  • P. 43, line 15: Just say “organized under the aegis of the Earth System Science Partnership”, including...”
  • P. 43, line 36-38: The sentence is backwards. Consider: “International cooperation is an integral component of the four goals of the Strategic Plan. Global change science is global: the product of observations and deliberations around the world. As the nations of the world respond to a changing climate and other manifestations of global change, the international research enterprise has evolved toward Goals 2 and 3, in part as a reflection of continued American leadership in all four goal areas.”
  • P. 44, line 36-38: And what now?
  • P. 44, line 37: There will also be an IPCC-like assessment process for biodiversity and ecosystem services (IPBES), through which the U.S. research establishment will make contributions.
  • P. 45, line 8+: This section should discuss more than climate science.
  • P. 45, line 24: One arena is the Arctic, and with the U.S. chairmanship of the Arctic Council (which reaches to the highest levels of gvts among the Arctic & observer states) there is at least some hope of creating a spirit of scientific collaboration, esp. involving otherwise potential adversaries in other arenas (read: United States and Russia). If not achievable in the short-term, science diplomacy could be used under the umbrella of the Arctic Council to facilitate international
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
  • scientific collaboration in this focus region of the USGCRP (as stated in this report—see p. 10).

  • P. 45, line 46: How?
  • P. 46, line 29: In this context, it seems now sensible to mention—and provide sufficient detail on—the new commitments associated with the Paris Accords on rich nation funding of climate adaptation and climate impact mitigation to assist the world’s poor. This will have a direct impact on the international research portfolio.

Chapter 5

  • P. 48, Box: This is the only mention of adaptive management in the document.
  • P. 49, line 1-3: This basic pipeline structure does not work for the social sciences. It would be useful to acknowledge that in one of the many brief discussions of USGCRP’s intent to engage more with social scientists and social science knowledge.
  • P. 49, line 29-31: Are the indicators being piloted adequate to track vulnerability and adaptation effectiveness?
  • P. 49, line 40: Presumably this must include a budget crosscut, not mentioned here.
  • P. 50, line 11-24: This paragraph is not necessary to the Strategic Plan update.
  • P. 50, line 40: Prepare for and respond.
  • P. 51, line 22: Not just climate science.
  • P. 51, line 42-43: “The USGCRP’s interaction with stakeholders, and understanding of their needs, comes largely 42 through two avenues: via the agencies and through the National Climate Assessment.” This good statement might be made much closer to the beginning of the report—perhaps in the initial introduction of Goal 2.
  • P. 51, line 44: I understand how the NCA3 does so, but how do “the agencies” (as referred to here) feed the interests into the USGCRP planning process more generally than through the NCA (also mentioned in this way on page 52, line 5)?
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 71
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 72
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 73
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 74
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 75
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 76
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 77
Suggested Citation:"Appendix D: Line-by-line Comments Submitted by Committee Members." National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. 2016. Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Update to the Strategic Plan Document. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/23396.
×
Page 78
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The Update to the Strategic Plan (USP) is a supplement to the Ten-Year Strategic Plan of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) completed in 2012. The Strategic Plan sets out a research program guiding thirteen federal agencies in accord with the Global Change Research Act of 1990. This report reviews whether USGCRP’s efforts to achieve its goals and objectives, as documented in the USP, are adequate and responsive to the Nation’s needs, whether the priorities for continued or increased emphasis are appropriate, and if the written document communicates effectively, all within a context of the history and trajectory of the Program.

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