Advance Global Change Science
Earth system science brings together data and understanding about the atmosphere, oceans, ice, land surface, ecosystems, and human systems (such as agriculture or energy production and use) to form a picture of our planet as a whole, including its changing climate. USGCRP uses Earth system observations, modeling, process understanding, and insights from the social sciences to advance scientific knowledge of the human and natural components of the Earth system, project possible future conditions, and provide the foundation for scientific assessment and decision-support capabilities.
Observing changes in the Earth system: USGCRP agencies develop and maintain Earth observations systems that monitor the state of the planet over time and provide critical information used for planning related to agriculture, water resources, wildfire, air quality, severe weather, and other areas. Short-term observing campaigns are also used to target specific new areas of interest and can complement longer term efforts or measurements made by different platforms. Satellite, aerial, in-situ, and field-based methods inform understanding of processes of change, both natural and human-caused, and support development and evaluation of Earth system models that provide insight into future changes.
- USGCRP Indicators - climate-relevant observations or calculations that can be used to track conditions or trends
- Integrated Observations Interagency Working Group
Understanding the complex planet: Earth system science encompasses many disciplines and methods that investigate the interactive processes that influence the total Earth system. Understanding the full picture of complex interactions across different components of the Earth system and their impacts requires diverse expertise, capabilities, and scientific approaches, ranging from laboratory experimentation and field research campaigns, to analyzing trends and modeling across various scales of time and space. Collaborative, interdisciplinary approaches help integrate insights that emerge from different research areas, identify gaps or weaknesses in collective understanding, and seek new ways to address them.
- U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program
- Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group
- Second State of the Carbon Cycle Report (2018)
- Social Science Coordinating Committee
- Social Science White Papers - social science perspectives on climate change
- Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health
- The Impacts of Climate Change on Human Health: A Scientific Assessment (2016)
Earth system processes:
Modeling global change: Earth system models simulate the state of the Earth system by incorporating the behavior of its many interacting components, both human and natural. These include the land surface, oceans, land and sea ice, atmospheric composition, clouds, and external influences on Earth’s climate such as the sun’s output and volcanic aerosols, as well as human influences such as greenhouse gas emissions. USGCRP modeling activities integrate across diverse Earth system components including the atmosphere, oceans, ice sheets, land, hydrology, vegetation, biogeochemical cycles, and social and economic systems. Our modeling efforts bring together researchers from many different disciplines, and using models to support decision making brings scientists and stakeholders into close collaboration.