Tropical cyclones (hurricanes and typhoons) generate serious costs to human life, property, and the economy. Understanding how the behavior of tropical cyclones may change in a warmer climate is important for long-range coastal planning and infrastructure investments to minimize impacts. To help address this prediction challenge, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and DOE have cosponsored a Hurricane Working Group (HWG), organized through the interagency
Since 1989, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has submitted annual reports to Congress called Our Changing Planet. The reports describe the status of USGCRP research activities, provide progress updates, and document recent accomplishments
In particular, Our Changing Planet highlights progress and accomplishments in interagency activities. These highlights represent the broad spectrum of USGCRP activities that extend from Earth system observations, modeling, and fundamental research through synthesis and assessment, decision support, education, and public engagement. Highlights describe the state of science at the time of publication of each yearly report, and may not reflect more recent advances in understanding. The date of publication of the source report is noted on each highlight page.
The international Global Carbon Project released its annual Global Carbon Budget in September 2014, shining a spotlight on rising carbon dioxide emissions and their significance for international efforts to reduce climate change. The 2014 Budget comprises analyses of emissions data for 2013, projections through the end of 2014, and implications for future climate and energy choices. The emissions data are available to...
In addition to being hotbeds of biodiversity, tropical forests are important to Earth’s water, energy, and carbon cycles—but they are increasingly impacted by climate change and human activities. Atmospheric chemistry in the once-pristine Amazon Basin, for example, is rapidly changing with deforestation, biomass burning, and pollution related to development in the region.
Like other forests, tropical forests naturally generate and emit volatile organic compounds that can react with other elements to form aerosols, or fine particles suspended in the
In 2012, spring came earlier for the contiguous United States than in any year since 1900, according to recent research by a team of scientists with the USA National Phenology Network (USA-NPN). This research used the USA-NPN suite of “spring indices”—or algorithms based on the accumulated warmth needed to initiate growth in temperature-sensitive plants, which are validated by nationwide historical
Modeling Earth’s climate furthers priorities of national interest, from experimental research to understand the Earth system to operational forecasts and projections that inform decisions. Coordination among the Nation’s premier modeling centers—particularly between experimental and operational programs (see also Highlight 31)—has the potential to advance forecasting capabilities, yield more robust predictions, and bridge models of near-term weather and longer-term climate that currently are separated by high-uncertainty gaps in coverage.
Citizen science—or the engagement of volunteers in scientific investigations—is a fast-growing field. By collecting data on natural phenomena such as the timing of bird migrations and plant flowering—sometimes from their own backyard—citizen scientists provide essential baseline information about key environmental indicators, in addition to strengthening their own awareness of and connection to their local environment. Citizen science has long been an important component of scientific endeavors and public engagement at USGCRP agencies such as DOI (particularly NPS and...
Philanthropic organizations can play a pivotal role in how communities strategize around education, housing, transportation, public health, and other social issues that link to the environment. These organizations are in a unique position to build synergy between Federal, local, and private efforts to improve climate literacy and help communities minimize and prepare for the consequences of climate change. As part of an ongoing tri-agency collaboration, program managers from NSF, NOAA, and NASA have been acting as government liaisons in bi-monthly meetings
Predicting climate on a seasonal basis can benefit decision makers in key sectors like energy, water resources, and agriculture, among others. A number of USGCRP agencies are working to improve the Nation’s seasonal forecasting capacity through major investments in innovative climate models that can bridge the needs of atmospheric research and operational forecasts. As one example, a new model developed by NOAA’s Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory, known as...
Although the volume and surface extent of Arctic sea ice varies between seasons and years, observations show a long-term down-ward trend over the last three decades. Variability in Arctic sea ice is an important indicator of global climate change, and also has implications for increasing human activity in the Arctic. In an effort to improve forecasts of Arctic sea ice on seasonal to interannual time scales, the Sea Ice Prediction Network (SIPN) was recently created with support from several USGCRP
Advancing science in the Arctic is crucial to understanding global climate dynamics, supporting policy decisions, and managing nationally and internationally important resources. In coordination with the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) and USGEO, USGCRP member agencies observe and monitor the Arctic environment to understand the impacts of global change on this ecologically, culturally, and economically significant region. Polar orbiting satellites provide data that are combined with information from surface-based measurement networks, airborne and...