Preface

This report reflects the results of a ten-day workshop convened at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography July 19-28, 1995. The workshop was convened as the first phase of a two-part review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), which is being conducted in response to

  1. the long-standing commitment of the National Research Council (NRC) to providing scientific guidance and periodic review of the USGCRP and its component programs and plans; and

  2. requests from congressional leaders in both the House and the Senate, endorsed by the interagency Subcommittee on Global Change Research, for a timely review of the USGCRP with an early specific focus on the NASA Mission to Planet Earth (MTPE) and Earth Observing System (EOS) programs in the light of budgetary pressures.

Responsibility for the review of the USGCRP was assigned to the Board on Sustainable Development (BSD) and its Committee on Global Change Research (CGCR). The July workshop was designed to accomplish the first phase of the review -- to conduct an initial assessment of the scientific progress to date in the USGCRP -- and, in the context of that scientific assessment, review the specific role of NASA's Mission to Planet Earth/Earth Observing System (MTPE/ EOS) program.

As phase one of the review, the workshop was organized to provide

While we believe that this initial emphasis on MTPE/EOS was appropriate in light of the need to be responsive to specific congressional interests, we recognize that, as a result, the July workshop could not adequately address the full spectrum of issues important to a review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program. For example, in consultation with the federal agencies participating in the USGCRP, the initial scientific assessment of the program was organized around four key scientific areas: (1) seasonal to interannual climate prediction, (2) atmospheric chemistry; (3) ecosystems; and (4) decadal to centennial climate change. Taken together, these four science areas reflect the continuing evolution of global change research into higher levels of intellectual and programmatic integration. Although these four areas represent the appropriate principal scientific foci for the USGCRP, the program's progress must also be evaluated in the individual Earth science disciplines that provide the foundation for an increasingly integrated view of the Earth system. Some of these disciplinary areas, such as climate and hydrological systems, biogeochemical cycles, and ecological systems and dynamics, received focused attention at the workshop. A detailed look at others, such as Earth system history, solar influences, and solid Earth processes, was deferred until the second phase of the review.

Research into the human dimensions of global change is a special case that deserves specific mention here. The workshop was designed with an explicit understanding that an effective program of research in all four of the principal science areas requires the integration of physical, natural, and social and economic sciences. Unfortunately, representation from the social science and economics research communities was limited during the workshop. As a result, we plan to include an explicit focus on the human dimensions of global change during the second phase of the review.

The present report summarizes the findings and recommendations developed by the Committee on Global Change Research on the basis of the presentations, background materials, working group deliberations, and plenary discussions of the workshop. A majority of the members of the committee participated in the La Jolla workshop. The report was subsequently reviewed in detail by the full membership of the CGCR, and the final text reflects extensive comments and modifications by the committee members. The committee believes these conclusions to be representative of the consensus of the workshop; however, their specific content is the responsibility of the committee alone.

In addition, we have appended summaries prepared by the six working groups convened in the course of the workshop (Appendixes A-F). These documents were written by the designated working group chairs and reflect their sense of the views of working group participants, further illuminated by extensive plenary discussions in the course of the workshop. These documents provide a window into the information, analysis, and discussion drawn upon by the committee in formulating its conclusions. The chairs of the six working groups are also preparing a set of more complete interim working documents that describe their deliberations in more detail and will be used as critical input to the second phase of the comprehensive review of the USGCRP.

The July workshop constituted the first step in a broader review of the USGCRP as a whole that will be concluded at a meeting of the Committee on Global Change Research in the late fall or early winter of 1995. In light of the issues raised at the workshop, we anticipate that this meeting will provide an opportunity to address a number of remaining issues, including

The Committee on Global Change Research will then prepare a comprehensive review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program for release early in 1996.

The workshop brought together a broadly constituted group including members of the Committee on Global Change Research and the Board on Sustainable Development; chairs or representatives of other relevant NRC units concerned with elements of the USGCRP; leaders of the major international global change research programs; and other invited scientists and technologists from academia and industry selected for their expertise and experience in relevant technical areas. In order to ensure the required level of expertise, scientists currently active in the USGCRP and supported by the agencies participating in the program were invited to take part. We also want to point out that some members of the Committee on Global Change Research also receive funding from USGCRP agencies. However, to foster a balanced and objective review, the workshop also included experts outside the USGCRP research community, as well as individuals who have been critical of the USGCRP and of NASA's MTPE/EOS program in the past. The workshop also benefited from the presence of representatives of USGCRP agencies (Appendix G). These representatives were invited to make formal presentations and to serve as liaisons to provide workshop participants with the background information and programmatic details required to support their deliberations. We appreciate greatly their contributions of time, expertise, and experience over the week and a half of the workshop.

As workshop co-chairs, we worked closely with the Subcommittee on Global Change Research of the interagency Committee on Environment and Natural Resources in planning the workshop, to develop appropriate background information, and to identify the appropriate level of agency participation. We are very grateful to the many individual federal officials associated with these organizations for their contributions to this effort.

Finally, we wish to express our appreciation to the NRC staff-- John Perry and Claudette Baylor-Fleming of the Board on Sustainable Development and volunteer staff members from other NRC units-- Frank Eden, Mary Hope Katsouros, and Anne Linn,who worked long hours to bring this project to fruition. In addition, we are grateful for the contributions provided by Eileen Shea of the Center for the Application of Research on the Environment (CARE), who served as study director for this first phase of the USGCRP review and for the La Jolla workshop. We are sure that the many participants share our appreciation of the staff of the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for their unstinting and uniformly effective support of this demanding enterprise.

Berrien Moore III, Chairman
Committee on Global Change Research

Edward A. Frieman, Chairman
Board on Sustainable Development