The following Federal entities comprise the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Representatives from each of these departments and agencies comprise the Subcommittee on Global Change Research of the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources within the National Science and Technology Council. To learn more about the role each agency plays in the larger USGCRP, please click on the buttons below.
The Department of Agriculture's (USDA) global change research program aims to empower land managers, policy makers, and Federal agencies with science-based knowledge to manage the risks, challenges, and opportunities posed by climate change; reduce GHG emissions; and enhance carbon sequestration.
Meeting USDA's goals for expanded economic opportunity, helping rural America thrive, promoting the sustainability of agricultural production, enhancing food security, and conserving natural resources requires understanding climate change's influences and the options for managing them. USDA's global change research program includes contributions from the:
- Agricultural Research Service (ARS)
- The National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA)
- The Forest Service
- Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS)
- National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS)
- Economic Research Service
USDA draws upon this diversity to identify climate change challenges and priorities in continuing to meet the needs of its stakeholders, decision-makers, and collaborators. This work is important to ensuring sustained food security for the nation and the world; maintaining and enhancing forest and natural resource health; and identifying strategic risks to agricultural production from changing temperature and precipitation as well as pests, disease, and invasive species.
The USDA supports USGCRP on multiple fronts. The Department conducts in-house research and sponsors extramural investigations focused on understanding climate change effects on natural and managed ecosystems, developing the knowledge and tools to enable adaptation under a changing climate, enhancing mitigation of atmospheric GHGs, and providing science-based information for decision support.
USDA conducts assessments and projections of climate change impacts on agricultural and natural systems, and develops GHG inventories. USDA develops cultivars, cropping systems, and management practices to improve drought tolerance and build resilience to climate variability. Conservation systems promoted by the USDA integrate USGCRP research findings into farm and natural resource management, and help build resiliency to climate change on both private and public lands.
Development and deployment of decision support tools is a cornerstone of the Department's climate change efforts. USDA maintains critical long-term data collection and observation networks, including the Snowpack Telemetry (SNOTEL) network, the Soil Climate Analysis Network (SCAN), the National Resources Inventory (NRI), and the Forest Inventory and Assessment (FIA). Analysis and modeling work includes biophysical subjects as well as economic analysis of climate change effects and adaptation options. Finally, USDA engages in communication, outreach, and education through multiple forums, including its vast network of agricultural extension services.
Visit the Department of Agriculture's climate change website.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) comprise the Department of Commerce contribution to the USGCRP.
NOAA's missions are to understand and anticipate changes in climate, weather, oceans, and coasts; to publicly share that knowledge and information; and to conserve and manage marine resources. NOAA's world-class research and information services continually advance scientific understanding of climate variability and change, and their impacts on human and natural systems. In this way, the agency generates tremendous value for the nation and the world by improving society's ability to use its climate science data and services make informed decisions.
Climate-related changes influence society in ways that are regionally diverse and that affect numerous sectors--including water, energy, transportation, forestry, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, and human and environmental health. The myriad ways in which climate intersects with society underscores the need for scientific information to aid decision makers in developing and evaluating options for mitigating the human causes of climate change and adapting to foreseeable climate impacts.
In carrying out its climate science and services mission, NOAA will build upon a strong scientific foundation and decades of engagement with interagency, academic, and private sector partnerships to meet the following objectives:
- Improved scientific understanding of the changing climate system and its impacts
- Assessments of current and future states of the climate system that identify potential impacts and inform science, service, and stewardship decision
- Mitigation and adaptation choices supported by sustained, reliable, and timely climate services
- A climate-literate public that understands its vulnerabilities to a changing climate and makes informed decisions.
NIST provides measurements and standards that support accurate and reliable climate observations. NIST also performs calibrations and special tests of a wide range of instruments and techniques for accurate measurements. In FY 2009, NIST is included as a discrete element of the USGCRP cross-cut to enhance and provide specific measurement standards and perform research on advanced measurement capabilities of direct relevance to the program.
The Department of Defense(DOD) environmental research programs have a specific goal of addressing global climate change impacts that directly address DoD assets and its natural security mission. DOD continues a history of participation in the USGCRP through sponsored research that concurrently satisfies both the national security goals of the USGCRP.
All data and scientific results obtained using DOD research funds are routinely made available to the civil science community. DOD science and technology investments are coordinated and reviewed by the Office of the Secretary of Defense and the individual research agencies - the Office of Naval Research (ONR), the Air Force Office of Scientific Research (AFOSR), the Army Research Office (ARO), and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA).
Research explicitly directed toward these issues is funded out of the Strategic Environmental Research and Development Program and the Army Corps of Engineers research activities. Together they have the responsibility to jointly develop the DOD Basic Research Plan (BRP), which undergoes a biennial program review by a panel of experts from universities, industry, and nonprofit research institutions (Defense Basic Research Review).
As the performance of DOD systems, platforms, and operations may be influenced by natural environmental conditions, understanding the variability in the Earth's environment is of interest to many DOD science programs. Much of the research performed under the ONR's Operational Environments focus area and the ARO's Environmental Sciences Division, for example, lead to fundamental understanding of physical processes that are of particular relevance to the USGCRP.
In May 2009, the Navy formed a Task Force on Climate Change to advise the Chief of Naval Operations on the impact of climate change on future Navy and Marine Corps operations. The objectives are to provide a central clearing point for climate change information and to assess potential impacts. Most importantly, the Task Force is to provide information about critical time lines relative to allocation of resources required to adapt to the future. The role of the task force is to address the impacts of climate change but this may ultimately result in additional research relative to mitigation and adaptation. The budgetary impact, however, is most likely to be in FY 2011 or alter.
Research supported by the Department of Energy(DOE) Office of Science focuses on the effects of energy production and use on the global climate system. The research seeks to understand regional and global climate response to changes in greenhouse gas and aerosol concentrations. Research covers five focus areas:
- Climate Change Process Research
- Climate Change Modeling
- Climate Change Ecological Effects
- Carbon Sequestration Research
- Climate Change Education and Infrastructure.
DOE supports climate change research at its National Laboratories and other public and private research institutions, including universities. In support of the USGCRP, the DOE Office of Science's Climate Change Research Program will continue to support climate change research that is generating the scientific knowledge base needed to:
- Inform the public discussion about climate change
- Support scientific considerations of energy policy options related to climate change
- Provide the scientific foundations and tools that can be used by the Nation to plan for, adapt to, and mitigate climate change.
Click to visit the Department of Energy's climate research website.
Global change is among the most challenging and formidable issues confronting our Nation and society. Global change and its collective impacts on natural resources are a key concern for resources managers in the Department of the Interior and for many of Interior's external partners at State, Federal, and local levels.
The U.S. Geological Survey (USGS), the Department’s major science agency, has made significant scientific contributions to understanding how the Earth’s climate and land surface has changed in the geologic past and how these changes have influenced water resources, land cover, species distribution and other aspects of ecosystems that are important to society. Climate change is one of six major “future directions” of work within the USGS Science Strategy 2007-2017, which was developed to inform long-term program planning and emphasizes how USGS science can make substantial contributions to the well-being of the Nation and the world.
Work within the USGS Climate and Land Use Change Mission Area supports scientific research, monitoring, remote sensing, modeling, synthesis, and forecasting to address the effects of climate and land use change on the Nation’s resources. The resulting research and products are provided as the scientific foundation upon which policymakers, natural resource managers, and the public make informed decisions about the management of natural resources on which they and others depend. Key components of the USGS Climate and Land Use Change science program include:
- Climate Change Research and Development
- The Natural Climate Change and Wildlife Science Center
- National Carbon Sequestration Assessments (geologic and biologic)
- The USGS Earth Resources Observation and Science Center
- Land Remote Sensing
- Geographic Analysis and Monitoring
The Department of the Interior contains bureaus with enormous responsibilities for natural resources and people that are affected by global change processes. These bureaus include the Bureau of Indian Affairs, the Bureau of Land Management, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the Bureau of Reclamation, the National Park Service, and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service. The Department therefore is both a science provider – through USGS and the science capacity in other bureaus – and a user of scientific information on global change.
Eight regional DOI Climate Science Centers provide scientific information, tools and techniques that land, water, wildlife and cultural resource managers can apply to anticipate, monitor and adapt to climate and ecologically-driven responses at regional-to-local scales. A DOI Energy and Climate Change Council – under the leadership of the Secretary, Deputy Secretary and Counselor to the Secretary – coordinates the Department’s response to the impacts of climate change within and among our bureaus.
Through Department of State (DOS) annual funding, the United States is the world’s leading financial contributor to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC)—the principal international organization for the assessment of scientific, technical, and socioeconomic information relevant to the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts, and options for adaptation and mitigation.
Recent DOS contributions to these organizations provide substantial support for global climate observation and assessment activities in developing countries. DOS also works with other agencies in promoting international cooperation in a range of bilateral and multilateral climate change initiatives and partnerships.
Visit the Department of State's climate change website.
The Department of Transportation (DOT)conducts research and uses existing science to improve decision-making tools to address climate change. DOT supports research that:
- Examines the potential impacts of climate variability and change on transportation infrastructure and services
- Examines increasing energy efficiency and reducing greenhouse gases
- Improves transportation greenhouse gas data and modeling
DOT has many programs that have either direct or indirect climate benefits, and is working to develop cross-modal strategies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
DOT’s Climate Change Center is the Department’s focal point for information and technical expertise on climate change. The Center coordinates research, policies, and actions related to transportation and climate change with DOT’s component organizations. Supporting DOT’s core goals of safety, mobility, environmental stewardship, and security, the Center promotes comprehensive approaches to reduce greenhouse gases, to prepare for the potential impacts of climate change, and to develop necessary adaptations to transportation operations and infrastructure. The Center supports the program goals through these objectives. Specifically, the Center aims to inform Goal 4 by identifying and providing scientific inputs for evaluating adaptation options and Goal 5 by supporting adaptive management and planning for physical infrastructure sensitive to climate variability and change.
In addition to participating in the Center, the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has programs to assess and identify potential measures to reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions. FAA conducts research to support Goal 2, leveraging research with other U.S. Government agencies to reduce uncertainties surrounding aviation emissions and their effect on climate change. For example, FAA research through the Partnership for Air Transportation Noise and Emissions Reduction (PARTNER) Center of Excellence addresses the impact of aircraft contrails on climate change. FAA also participates heavily in the work program of the International Civil Aviation Organization's Committee on Aviation Environmental Protection, and provides technical expertise and date to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
The core purpose of the Global Change Research Program in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA)Office of Research and Development is to provide scientific information to stakeholders and policymakers to support them as they decide whether and how to respond to the risks and opportunities presented by global change.
The program is stakeholder-oriented, with primary emphasis on assessing the potential consequences of global change (particularly climate variability and change) on air quality, water quality, aquatic ecosystems, and human health in the United States. The program's focus on these four areas is driven by EPA's mission and statutory and programmatic requirements.
EPA uses the results of these studies to investigate adaptation options to improve society's ability to effectively respond to the risks and opportunities presented by global change, and to develop decision support tools for resource managers coping with a changing climate. EPA has also invested in decision support tools to help decisionmakers evaluate alternative strategies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and the environmental implications of those strategies.
The program uses a place-based approach because the impacts of global change and their solutions are often unique to a location (e.g. a watershed). Partnerships are established with locally based decisionmakers to ensure that the program is responsive to their unique scientific information needs and the socioeconomic realities at their locales.
Information on these regulatory initiatives as well as on phenomena that result in and from global climate change can be found on EPA’s climate change website.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) conducts a program of breakthrough research to advance fundamental knowledge on the most important scientific questions about the global and regional integrated Earth system. NASA’s program encompasses most themes of the 2003 Strategic Plan for the USGCRP.
NASA continues to enhance the ability of the international scientific community to advance global integrated Earth system science using space-based observations. The research encompasses the global atmosphere; the global oceans including sea ice; land surfaces including snow and ice; ecosystems; and interactions between the atmosphere, oceans, land, and ecosystems, including humans. NASA’s goal is to understand the changing climate, its interaction with life, and how human activities affect the environment. In association with national and international agencies, NASA applies this understanding for the well-being of society.
NASA aircraft and surface based instruments are used to calibrate and enhance interpretation of high-accuracy, climate-quality, stable satellite measurements. NASA supports state-of-the-art computing capability and capacity for extensive global integrated Earth system modeling. NASA, in recording approximately four tetrabytes of data every day, maintains the world's largest scientific data and information system for collecting, processing, archiving, and distributing Earth system data to worldwide users.
Also see NASA's global climate change website.
National Science Foundation (NSF) programs address global change issues through investments that advance frontiers of knowledge and provide state-of-the-art instrumentation and facilities while also cultivating a diverse highly trained workforce and developing resources for public education.
In particular, NSF global change research programs support research and related activities to advance the fundamental understanding of physical, chemical, biological, and human systems and the interactions among them. The programs encourage interdisciplinary activities and focus particularly on Earth system processes and the consequences of change for organisms and ecosystems and the essential services they provide to society.
NSF programs facilitate data acquisition and information management activities necessary for fundamental research on global change, and promote the enhancement of models designed to improve understanding of Earth system processes and feedbacks that link ecosystems to global climate systems, and develop advanced analytic methods to facilitate basic research.
NSF also supports fundamental research on the processes used by organizations to identify and evaluate policies for mitigation, adaptation, and other responses to the challenge of varying environmental conditions. Through its investment, NSF contributes to the overall goals identified in the 2003 Strategic Plan.
Visit NSF's climate change website.
Within the Smithsonian Institution, global change research is conducted at the:
Research is organized around themes of atmospheric processes, ecosystem dynamics, observing natural and anthropogenic environmental change on daily to decadal time scales, and defining longer-term climate proxies present in the historical artifacts and records of the museums as well as in the geologic record at field sites.
The Smithsonian Institution program strides to improve knowledge of the natural processes involved in global climate change, to provide a long-term repository of climate-relevant research materials for present and future studies and to bring this knowledge to various audiences, ranging from scholarly to the lay public. The unique contribution of the Smithsonian Institution is a long-term perspective - for example, undertaking investigations that may require extended study before producing useful results and conducting observations on sufficiently long (e.g., decadal) time scales to resolve human-caused modification of natural variability.
The Smithsonian Institution has a number of websites which strive to educate the public about climate change research findings. The Smithsonian Education Online Conference on Climate Change makes all of the live events from the conference held in 2009 available as online recordings. The Natural History museum also highlights climate change science through its Forces of Change and Ocean Portal websites.
The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) supports a number of programs that enable decision-makers to apply high-quality climate information to decision-making.
The Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWS NET) continues to provide short- and long-term climate forecasts in the developing world that help to enhance the adaptive capacity of developing countries coping with climate variability and change. FEWS NET produces a number of regular reports that combine meteorological data with ground-based livelihoods information to provide information on food security within a number of developing countries.
These reports are publicly available and include Food Security Updates, a monthly report with comprehensive coverage of current and projected food security conditions and their implications; and Alerts, one-page statements issued when a crisis is emerging or deteriorating or when early action is recommended. This information will better enable development agencies and regional and local institutions to direct appropriate resources and support toward strengthening the adaptive capacity of affected groups and the food production systems upon which they depend.
USAID recently released Adapting to Coastal Climate Change: A Guidebook for Development Planners as a follow-up to the 2007 Adaptation Guidance Manual. This Guidebook presents a framework and approach for assessing coastal vulnerabilities and specific measures for reducing vulnerability. It is designed to address the needs of decision-makers and coastal managers.
Visit USAID's global climate change program website.