Since 2011, California has experienced one of its most severe and widespread droughts since record-keeping began in 1895. USGCRP-supported research helps advance drought science and provides the basis for the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) (Highlight 10), which aims to increase the capacity of the public to better prepare for and respond to drought events through regional Drought Early Warning Systems (DEWS). The NOAA Drought Task...
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.
On February 11, 2016, workers in California ended the largest reported natural gas leak in U.S. history. The Aliso Canyon leak released methane and other gases into the atmosphere from an underground-storage facility for over three months, causing the evacuation of more than 5,000 households. Researchers from NOAA, NASA, Scientific Aviation, the University of California, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the California Air Resources Board, and South Coast Air Quality Management District mobilized rapidly to assess the environmental impacts of the leak,...
The Arctic tundra is a cold, desert-like biome, with a layer of permanently frozen soil and organic matter below the surface containing vast stocks of carbon. As Arctic tundra soils warm in response to climate change, methane emissions from decomposing organic material could increase dramatically, representing a potentially significant positive feedback on climate warming. However, seasonal and climatic influences on methane emissions from these systems are not well understood outside of the summer months, representing a major uncertainty for the Arctic methane budget. To help address a...
The majority of terrestrial (land-based) carbon is stored in soil. With changes in climate and land use, understanding this key player in the carbon cycle is increasingly important. In October 2014, a group of scientists from 13 countries gathered in South Carolina for the Sixth International Workshop on Soil and Sedimentary Organic Matter Stabilization and Destabilization (SOM6). Participants engaged in focused
Although global climate change can be challenging to grasp as a seemingly abstract concept, connecting it to concrete impacts that are recognizable within a familiar region can be an effective approach for understanding and learning. The Third National Climate Assessment offers a wealth of accessible information about climate effects, risks, and response strategies at the regional scale. Capitalizing on this, NOAA, the NCAnet Education Affinity Group, and members
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
Food security is a critical challenge in rapidly urbanizing, low-income regions of the world. Climate change is likely to increase disruptions to food availability and prices, further exacerbating food insecurity for the urban poor. Urban and peri-urban agriculture (UPA) can serve as an important food source for cities in the developing world, contributing to dietary diversity and economic activity. However, UPA systems are stressed by factors such as rapid urban growth, weak governance over land and water allocation, and pollution. Moreover, the potential of
Civil Earth observations support key public services, long-term research, scientific discovery, and technological innovation. The Federal Government makes significant investments each year in civil Earth observations and data across multiple agencies, in addition to utilizing investments made by academia, industry, and state, local, and tribal governments. Planning and evaluation are critical to ensure that these investments lead to Earth observations that are streamlined, effective, and immediately useful.
In 2013, the vast majority of worldwide climate indicators—including greenhouse gas concentrations, sea levels, and global temperatures, among others—continued to reflect evidence of a warming planet. That was the conclusion of the State of the Climate in 2013, a report published in July 2014 by the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society (BAMS). Scientists from NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) served as the lead
Extreme events such as heavy rains, severe storms, drought, and heat waves can have devastating effects on infrastructure, the economy, and vulnerable segments of the population. A growing field of climate science seeks to understand the drivers behind extreme events and how they connect to broader climate trends. Building on efforts to monitor the global climate (see Highlight 1), a recent report published in BAMS integrates findings from 20 different research