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...
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.
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
The 2012–2021 Strategic Plan emphasizes the need for synergy between Earth observations and Earth system modeling—two cor- nerstones of global change research. Obs4MIPs (or Observations for Model Intercomparison Projects) is an emerging activity that uses observations to better support the Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP), an international effort under the
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.
The carbon cycle—or the continual flux of carbon through the atmosphere, oceans, soil, and living organisms—is a foundational component of the Earth system that interacts with climate change and human activities. Through USGCRP and its U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program, Federal agencies are working together and with the scientific community to advance fundamental and applied research in this critical field. Some examples are highlighted below:
In 2014, NASA, USDA, DOE, and NOAA
Fish, wildlife, and plants are integral parts of ecosystems that provide jobs, food, clean water, storm protection, recreation, and many other services that benefit society. Observed changes in climate are already impacting these valuable living resources, and projected future changes threaten to displace or eliminate some species. In response to a call from Congress to meet this challenge, a partnership of Federal, state, and tribal agencies released the National Fish, Wildlife and Plants
Water resources in the United States are affected by a number of climate stressors—including increasing temperatures, changing precipitation patterns, and extreme events like storms and droughts—and these changing conditions have implications for drinking water and stormwater utilities. Federal agencies are working with one another and with state and local partners to build preparedness and sustainability in this essential sector. For instance, the Federal Support Toolbox—grown out of an initiative led by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (USACE)—serves as a
Climate change is expected to increase the number of extremely hot days, posing health risks to vulnerable populations such as the elderly, children, and those with existing cardiovascular and respiratory diseases. To streamline prediction of and adaptation to these events, HHS’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and NOAA held a Heat Health Summit in Silver Spring, MD, in October 2014. The Summit drew participants from across NOAA, CDC, EPA, DOE, and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration; state and local health departments;
SERVIR—meaning “to serve” in Spanish—is a joint initiative that connects USAID’s expertise in international development and training with NASA’s portfolio of satellite observations. Its goal is to help decision makers in developing regions respond to global change. Over the past decade, SERVIR has worked closely with regional organizations in the developing world to provide analytical products and services that inform decisions about climate adaptation and mitigation, disaster risk