The carbon cycle science community in the United States has just finished its planning process for carbon cycle research for the upcoming decade. This reassessment of the U.S. carbon cycle science priorities was initiated by the U.S. Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group (CCIWG) and Carbon Cycle Science Steering Group (CCSSG) in 2008. This planning process has culminated in the publication of the new U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan. The new Plan is intended to provide guidance for U.S. research efforts on the global carbon cycle for the next decade.
The Plan outlines priorities for research in carbon cycle science, including a substantial expansion in the scope of the field. In addition to reaffirming the need for basic research and for continuing the current areas of research in carbon cycle science, the Plan outlines specific recommendations for new priorities:
With greenhouse-gas concentrations rising rapidly, active management of the global carbon cycle is increasingly urgent. The plan outlines the need for carbon-cycle research on the efficacy and environmental consequences of carbon management policies, strategies, and technologies.
Because humans are an integral part of the carbon cycle, both through influences on â€œnaturalâ€ systems and through direct emissions of greenhouse gases, study of the human elements of the carbon cycle must be more thoroughly integrated into the future research agenda.
The Plan recommends increased exploration of the direct impact of rising greenhouse gas concentrations and carbon-management decisions on ecosystems, species, and natural resources.
Finally, because decisions about the carbon cycle will inevitably be made with imperfect knowledge, the Plan emphasizes the need for a better understanding of uncertainly in all aspects of the global carbon cycle, and improved ways of conveying those uncertainties to policy and decision makers, as well as society at large.