Northern peatlands contain vast organic carbon stocks in danger of release into the atmosphere as greenhouse gases as the climate warms, leading to a positive-feedback cycle of further warming and carbon release. Through field experiments in a Minnesota peat bog, DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, the USDA Forest Service (USDA-FS), and EPA are collaborating alongside university partners to test how peatland ecosystems respond to conditions that simulate the atmosphere of the future, and improve the ability to predict the release of stored carbon and its impact on climate warming. The...
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.
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
Reducing the rate of biodiversity loss and averting precipitous ecosystem changes are internationally shared goals. Through its funding to DIVERSITAS, USGCRP supports the international Group on Earth Observation’s Biodiversity Observation Network (GEO BON) in building a global, scientifically robust framework for detecting biodiversity change, intended to fill gaps in existing data and create links between globally dispersed observing systems. To meet...
The continual cycling of carbon through the atmosphere, oceans, soil, and living organisms is an essential function of the Earth system. The U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program (under the auspices of USGCRP; carboncyclescience.us) and USGCRP agencies are working to understand how climate change and human activities are altering this foundational component of the environment, and how these alterations feed back to affect climate change. Some examples are highlighted below:
At least two thirds of the world’s land-based organic carbon is stored in