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News from the National Academies

Date:  Jan. 5, 2012

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


New Report Reviews 10-Year Plan for Federal Program On Climate and Global Environmental Change Research

 

WASHINGTON — The draft 10-year strategic plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) -- which shapes and coordinates climate and related global environmental change research efforts of numerous agencies and departments across the federal government -- is "evolving in the right direction," but several key issues could strengthen these planning efforts, says a new report from the National Research Council.

 

The committee that wrote the report found that the proposed broadening of USGCRP's scope to address not only climate change but also other climate-related global changes is appropriate and an important step.  However, the draft plan does not always acknowledge significant challenges, such as increasingly constrained budget resources, involved in meeting its goals, nor does it offer clear strategies for how such challenges could be addressed.  There is also the practical challenge of maintaining clear boundaries for an expanded program.

 

The committee emphasized the need to identify initial steps the program would take to achieve the proposed broadening of its scope, develop critical science capacity that is now lacking, and link the production of knowledge to its use.  It also stressed that without a strong governance structure that could compel reallocation of funds to serve overarching priorities, the program would likely continue as merely a compilation of efforts deriving from each member agency's individual priorities.

 

Broadening the program to better integrate the social and ecological sciences, inform climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts, and emphasize decision support is welcome and essential for meeting the legislative mandate for the program, the committee said.  Nevertheless, implementing this wider scope requires more than incremental solutions.  For instance, there is insufficient expertise within member agencies in the social and ecological sciences, and some agencies lack clear mandates to develop the needed expertise.

 

The report also suggests that the USGCRP plan could be strengthened by:

  • offering a more coherent summary of past important accomplishments, including an assessment of successes that were possible only because of USGCRP actions;
  • establishing clear processes for setting priorities and phasing in and out elements of the program;
  • employing iterative processes for periodically evaluating and updating the program and its priorities; and
  • more carefully defining the education, communication, and work-force development efforts that belong within the program and which efforts would be best organized by entities outside the program.

The study was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.  The National Research Council, the operating arm of the National Academy of Sciences and National Academy of Engineering, is an independent, nonprofit institution that provides science and technology advice under a congressional charter granted to the NAS in 1863. 

 

Contacts: 

Jennifer Walsh, Media Relations Officer

Shaquanna Shields, Media Relations Assistant

Office of News and Public Information

202-334-2138; e-mail news@nas.edu

 

Pre-publication copies of A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Draft Strategic Plan are available from the National Academies Press; tel. 202-334-3313 or 1-800-624-6242 or on the Internet at http://www.nap.edu.  Reporters may obtain a copy from the Office of News and Public Information (contacts listed above).

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NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL

Division on Earth and Life Studies

Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education

 

Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program 

 

Warren M. Washington1 (chair)

Senior Scientist

National Center for Atmospheric Research

Boulder, Colo.

 

Kai N. Lee (vice chair)

Program Officer

Conservation and Science Program

David and Lucile Packard Foundation

Los Altos, Calif.

 

Mark R. Abbott

Dean and Professor

College of Oceanic and Atmospheric Sciences

Oregon State University

Corvallis

 

Doug Arent 

Executive Director

Joint Institute for Strategic Energy Analysis

National Renewable Energy Laboratory

Golden, Colo.

 

Susan K. Avery

President and Director

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Woods Hole, Mass.

 

Robert E. Dickinson1,2

Professor

Department of Geological Sciences

University of Texas

Austin

 

Thomas Dietz

Assistant Vice President for Environmental Research, and

Professor of Sociology, Environmental Science and Policy, and Animal Studies

Michigan State University

East Lansing

 

Henry D. Jacoby 

Professor of Management, and

Co-Director

Program on the Science and Policy of Global Change

Sloan School of Management

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Cambridge

 

Maria Carmen Lemos 

Professor

School of Natural Resources and Environment

University of Michigan

Ann Arbor

 

Ian Roy Noble 

Chief Scientist

Global Adaptation Institute

Washington, D.C.

 

Camille Parmesan 

Associate Professor of Integrative Biology

University of Texas

Austin

 

Karen C. Seto

Associate Professor of the Urban Environment

School of Forestry and Environmental Studies

Yale University

New Haven, Conn.

 

Kathleen J. Tierney 

Professor of Sociology, and

Director

Natural Hazards Research and Applications Information Center

University of Colorado

Boulder

 

Charles J. Vorosmarty

Director

Global Environmental Sensing and Water Sensing Initiative, and

Professor

Department of Civil Engineering

City University of New York

New York City

 

John M. Wallace2

Professor

Department of Atmospheric Sciences

University of Washington

Seattle

 

Gary W. Yohe 

Professor of Economics and Environmental Studies

Wesleyan University

Middletown, Conn.

 

 

RESEARCH COUNCIL STAFF

 

Laurie Geller

Study Director

 

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1    Member, National Academy of Engineering

2    Member, National Academy of Sciences