Developing and Testing Potential Indicators for the National Climate Assessment
On July 2nd, 2012 NASA announced a new funding opportunity in ROSES 2012 (Research Opportunities in Space and Earth Sciences) pertaining to the U.S. Global Change Research Programâ€™s (USGCRP) National Climate Assessment (NCA). This ROSES element solicits contributions to enhance the use of NASAâ€™s observation and modeling products in future NCAs by encouraging the developing and testing of potential indicators that address the needs expressed in the NCA indicators vision.
The NCA operates under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, acting as a generator of status reports on climate change science and impacts. These reports are based on observations made across the country, and compare these observations to predictions from climate system models. The assessments also analyze current patterns in global change and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.
NASA supported research on potential indicators will contribute to the NCAâ€™s effort to develop a robust indicator system that informs decisions related to impacts, adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation associated with climate and global change. NASA is requesting that Notices of Intent be submitted by August 3, 2012. Official proposals are due on October 5, 2012.
For more information on this research opportunity please visit the NASAâ€™s ROSES website and view appendix A.47.
Featured on USGS, a member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program
â€œRates of sea level rise are increasing three-to-four times faster along portions of the U.S. Atlantic Coast than globally, according to a new U.S. Geological Survey report published in Nature Climate Change. Since about 1990, sea-level rise in the 600-mile stretch of coastal zone from Cape Hatteras, N.C. to north of Boston, Mass. -- coined a "hotspot" by scientists -- has increased 2 - 3.7 millimeters per year; the global increase over the same period was 0.6 â€“ 1.0 millimeter per year.
Based on data and analyses included in the report, if global temperatures continue to rise, rates of sea level rise in this area are expected to continue increasing. The report shows that the sea-level rise hotspot is consistent with the slowing of Atlantic Ocean circulation. Models show this change in circulation may be tied to changes in water temperature, salinity and density in the subpolar north Atlantic.â€ Read More
A series of studies by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) and academic institutions offers accumulating evidence that climate change is both lengthening and intensifying pollen seasons in many parts of the United States.
Carbon dioxide (CO2) in the atmosphere directly affects plants by supplying the carbon they need for photosynthesis. In some cases, elevated CO2 Âlevels can help plants grow fasterâ€”a potential boon when that plant is an agriculturally important species.
But as USDA and other scientists pointed out in a 2009 Environmental Health Perspectives (EHP) study, CO2 â€œdoes not discriminateâ€ between desirable and undesirable plants. That means that while there may be benefits to faster-growing species like forest trees, for example, there can be serious negative consequences when these growth spurts occur Â in other plants, like ragweedâ€”a plant to which at least ten percent of the U.S. population is sensitive.
Some studies suggest that carbon-induced growth increases may be especially great in some pest plant species. The U.S. Global Change Research Program cited in its most recent National Climate Assessment, for example, that when exposed to the same heightened CO2 levels, poison ivy growth increases are nearly five times those in tree species.
Itâ€™s also been shown that higher atmospheric CO2 Âlevels as well as warmer temperaturesâ€” two key aspects of climate changeâ€”may be contributing to the intensification of pollen seasons. A recent field study, for example, found that both factors â€œsignificantly influenceâ€ pollen production in common ragweed and can increase pollen concentrations in the atmosphere.
Other science tells us that some plant species are not only producing more pollen, but are also doing so over longer periods of timeâ€”an effect thatâ€™s already being seen on the ground. In a recent study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, USDA researchers and others found that in parts of North America, the ragweed pollen season is up to three weeks longer than it was in the mid-1990â€™s because of climate change.
â€œThis finding is just one demonstration that plants respond to climate change in ways that are likely to affect people,â€ said Dr. Lewis Ziska, a scientist at USDAâ€™s Agricultural Research Service (ARS) and author of the PNAS study. Â
â€œWe study these aspects of plant responseâ€”from weeds, to wheat, to cellulosic biofuelsâ€”so that growers can continue to effectively provide our supply of food, feed, fiber and fuel, and so that citizens and health professionals can predict and deal with health impacts in the face of climatic uncertainty.â€
While the magnitude of climate-change impact on allergic disease is not yet known, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and other research institutions suggest that there could be a â€œsubstantial effect.â€
â€œThese documented increases in pollen exposures are one of the clearest examples of how a changing climate is already affecting the health of people in the United States," said Dr. John Balbus, Senior Advisor for Public Health at the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, adding that other climate-induced ecosystem changes could result in additional health challenges.
"Just as trees and weeds respond to a changing climate, so too do ticks, mosquitoes, and other carriers of human diseases, making it critical that we anticipate all these changing patterns of disease and protect those most vulnerable."
Today, allergic disorders, including asthma, comprise the 6th leading cause of chronic illness in the Nation. They affect more than 50 million Americans per year and cost the United States nearly $20 billion annually. Given the number of studies documenting and projecting longer and more intense pollen seasons as a result of increasing temperatures and CO2 levels, we can expect those impacts and costs to grow even larger if the Nation and the world do not address climate change aggressively.
The USGCRP is looking to fill a full-time software engineer position supporting the Global Change Information System (GCIS) in Washington, D.C.
The USGCRP National Coordination Office (NCO) is coordinating the development of a new data system to integrate information about global change from across the program. The Global Change Information System (GCIS) will harmonize the organization and representation of that information from across the program and integrate existing information from the agency data centers. Early phases of the GCIS development will focus on representing the provenance of the National Climate Assessment (NCA) and its technical input, but will also look into existing agency data centers for sources of information to integrate into the system.
This person will be responsible for ensuring the system is compliant with standards and user friendly while utilizing best practices. The Software Engineer must be a self-starter and be comfortable managing their own time while working on concurrent projects. The successful applicant should be comfortable working with non-technical stakeholders, helping to shape requirements when necessary, and communicating with a large multi-agency team including editors, graphics professionals, visualization specialists, managers and data architects. Reports to the USGCRP Deputy Director.
Apply here. Applications due by Monday June 18, 2012.