In addition to emissions from human activities, natural emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide and methane can affect the climate system, and vice versa. Quantifying these natural fluxes, especially in Arctic ecosystems, is critical to understanding how they may interact with human-driven changes to affect future climate. Some research has shown increased emissions of greenhouse gases from tundra and boreal forests during warming in the spring, but little is known about what causes this or whether its occurrence is widespread enough to influence
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 severe, sustained drought affecting the Central Valley of California has caused a shortage of water for irrigation and crop production. The effect of this shortage is most immediately evident as an increase in the extent of fallowed farmland (or land taken out of agricultural production), which in turn serves as a proxy for socioeconomic impacts. Decision makers can use information about fallowed land to better understand the severity of drought impacts and to support requests for USDA drought disaster designations or emergency proclamations. USDA
In 2014, NASA launched two new satellite missions that will enable fundamental advancements in our understanding of climate and global change. The Global Precipitation Measurement satellite, launched in February in collaboration with the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), carries state-of-the-art instrumentation that will collect unparalleled observations of rain and snow worldwide every three hours. Such high-resolution data will improve forecasts of extreme weather and climate events, lead to a better understanding of the global water and energy
Predicting climate conditions anywhere from two weeks to a season in advance is critical for making informed decisions and safeguarding infrastructure across various sectors of the U.S. economy, including water resources, energy supply, public safety, and agriculture, among many others.
USGCRP agencies are supporting improved climate forecasts on these relatively short timescales through field campaigns coupled with model development and analysis efforts. DOE, NASA, NOAA, NSF, and DOD’...
In May 2014, delivering on the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and the President’s Climate Action Plan, USGCRP released the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA), the most comprehensive, authoritative, and transparent scientific report on U.S. climate-change impacts to date. The report confirms that climate change, once considered a distant threat, is already affecting every region of the country and key sectors of the economy, and will continue to do so into the future. The release of the report garnered much attention nationwide, including among stakeholder...
Under Executive Orders (EO) 13514 and 13653, President Obama directed Federal agencies to evaluate and prepare for climate-related risks to ensure that they can continue to meet their missions and serve the American public as climate changes. A key component of USGCRP’s work to prepare the Nation for global change involves informing Federal preparedness and resilience efforts with resources built on sound scientific understanding.
To further support these efforts, USGCRP recently released an easy-to-access, web-based collection of resources to help Federal...
USGCRP’s novel Global Change Information System builds on prior agency investments and is designed to support traceability between multiple environmental data streams—such as observations from sensors and output from models—and the resulting scientific reports. This system creates an open environment for users to access machine-readable information and trace user-friendly products back to the supporting science. As an important first step and proof-of-concept, the GCIS provides this
In March 2014, USGCRP helped support the launch of the Climate Data Initiative, a key component of the President’s Climate Action Plan. The Climate Data Initiative brings together open government data with commitments from the private and philanthropic sectors to develop data-driven tools that communities and businesses across America need to plan for the impacts of climate change.
With the launch of the Climate Data Initiative, data from USGCRP agencies—including NOAA, NASA, USGS, and DOD—and other Federal entities are
The Global Carbon Atlas, released in late 2013, is an interactive web-based platform designed to communicate information about the global carbon cycle to educators, policy makers, non-governmental organizations, the general public, and the scientific community. The Atlas allows users to explore, visualize, and interpret global and regional carbon data related to human activities and natural processes, with the goal of sharing knowledge and supporting decisions to limit and cope with human-induced climate change.
The Global Carbon Atlas was made possible
With the release of the Third National Climate Assessment (see related Highlight 9) came a spike in public demand for information about climate change, its impacts on America, and USGCRP. The Program met this press of interest with a new user-friendly, public-oriented website that launched concurrently with the report’s release. The site deploys the Third National Climate Assessment in an interactive, shareable format. It also provides a dynamic suite of resources and information spanning the breadth of USGCRP and serving user groups including scientists, decision...