The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. Its mandate is to develop and coordinate “a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”
USGCRP comprises 14 Federal agencies that conduct or use research on global change and its impacts on society. It functions under the direction of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability.
USGCRP has three major sets of responsibilities: (a) coordinating global change research across the Federal government, (b) developing and distributing mandated products, and (c) helping to inform decisions.
One of the products mandated by the GCRA is a quadrennial assessment that USGCRP is to prepare and submit to the President and the Congress. This assessment, referred to as the National Climate Assessment (NCA), is directed by the GCRA to:
- Integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the Program and discuss the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings
- Analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity
- Analyze current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years
The Fourth NCA is being developed in two volumes: the Climate Science Special Report (NCA4 Vol. I) and Climate Change Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States (NCA4 Vol. II). The Climate Science Special Report is a scientific analysis that predominantly addresses requirements (1) and (3) in the list above. NCA4 Vol. II uses that scientific assessment to inform an analysis of the impacts of global change on the topics specified in (2) above, while expanding upon elements of (1) and (3), as appropriate.
Find out more about the GCRA here.