March 1998


Members of Congress:

I am pleased to transmit to you a copy of Our Changing Planet: The FY 1999 U.S. Global Change Research Program. The purpose of this report, which was prepared under the auspices of the President's National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is to provide highlights of the Program's recent research and to describe future plans and directions.

The USGCRP was established in 1989, and the first edition of Our Changing Planet  was transmitted to the Congress as a supplement to the FY 1990 budget. In the nine years since, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has brought about dramatic improvements in our knowledge of the Earth system. Consider, for example, the fact that our scientists were able to predict the occurrence of the 1997-98 El Niño event. This, in turn, allowed us to prepare for this event, thereby greatly mitigating the adversity of its impacts. The scientific results of USGCRP's work are being used to create vitally important and useful information for resource managers around the world.

Regional-scale modeling and investigations are the natural outgrowth of the continued progress in global-scale analysis. Over the next year, the USGCRP will complete the series of workshops begun last year that focus on identifying and analyzing regional vulnerabilities to climate variability and change. The results of these workshops will provide regional texture for a national assessment of the consequences of climate change.

As you know, the authorizing legislation of the USGCRP mandates a National Assessment of Climate Change Impacts. In January of this year, it was my pleasure to initiate this effort. The National Assessment process will involve a broad spectrum of stakeholders from state, local, tribal, and Federal governments, business, labor, academia, non-profit organizations, and the general public. It will link research by scientists to specific needs of the stakeholders and provide managers, planners, organizations, and the public with the information needed to increase our resilience to climate variability and to improve our ability to cope with climate change.

The USGCRP has been strongly backed by every Administration and Congress since its inception. The President and the Vice President believe that global change research is one of the foundations of a sustainable future, and the FY 1999 Budget Request demonstrates their ongoing commitment to the program. The Administration looks forward to working with you as we carry on this bipartisan tradition of support for sound science.

John H. Gibbons

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