Members of Congress:

I am pleased to forward a copy of Our Changing Planet: The FY 1998 U.S. Global Change Research Program. This annual report was prepared under the auspices of the President's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC).

The first edition of Our Changing Planet  was transmitted to Congress as a supplement to the FY 1990 budget. In the eight years since, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has brought about dramatic improvements in our knowledge of the Earth system. Consider just a few of the major accomplishments. The rate, extent, and mechanisms of stratospheric ozone depletion are largely understood, enabling us to monitor the effectiveness of the remedial actions that this knowledge has stimulated. The rate and extent of South American tropical deforestation have been documented, the other tropical regions of the world are being inventoried, and a series of exciting new interdisciplinary investigations are unraveling the basic processes, causes and effects of land cover change. The onset and effects of El Niño/Southern Oscillation ocean circulation events in the Pacific are being predicted with increasing accuracy, and these science results are being used to create useful information for resource managers around the world.

As the USGCRP continues to pursue the challenge of explaining the physical and chemical processes of global-scale changes, it is increasing its efforts to explain the regional consequences of such changes. Among the fundamental aspects of the results described above are the regional texture and variation of the impacts of, and vulnerabilities to, global change. Regional-scale modeling and investigations are the natural outgrowth of the continued progress in global-scale analysis. Over the next year, the USGCRP will conduct a series of workshops across the U.S. that are focused on identifying and analyzing regional vulnerabilities to climate variability and climate change. This will be an important first step in assessing the vulnerability of the U.S. to global change and developing appropriate research strategies to provide the information needed for decisions on adaptation and mitigation.

The USGCRP was established in 1989, and has been strongly backed by every Administration and Congress since its inception. The FY 1998 Budget Request demonstrates President Clinton's ongoing commitment to the program. The President and the Vice President believe that global change research is one of the foundations of a sustainable future. The Administration looks forward to working with you as we carry on this bipartisan tradition of support for sound science.

I commend the members of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, the program staff, and all the participants in government, academia, and industry for their continuing efforts.

John H. Gibbons

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