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Briefing Date:09/12/2007
Topic:Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: Methods and Preliminary Results

THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
National Research Council
Division on Earth and Life Studies
and
Division on Behavioral, Social Sciences, and Education
Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program

*****

Congressional Briefings
Wednesday, September 12, 2007
253 Russell Senate Office Bldg. – 1:00 p.m.
2325 Rayburn House Office Bldg. – 2:00 p.m.
and
366 Dirksen Senate Office Bldg. – 3:30 p.m.

And

Thursday, September 13, 2007
H-309, The Capitol Bldg. – 2:00 p.m.

*****

on

Evaluating Progress of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program:
Methods and Preliminary Results

by

Veerabhadran Ramanathan, Distinguished Professor of Atmospheric and Climate Sciences and Victor C. Alderson Professor of Applied Ocean Sciences, Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego; and Chair, Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, National Research Council, The National Academies

Christopher O. Justice, Director of Research and Professor, University of Maryland, College Park; and Vice-Chair, Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, National Research Council, The National Academies

and

Maria Carmen Lemos, Associate Professor of Natural Resources and Environment, University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Senior Policy Analyst, Udall Center for Studies of Public Policy, University of Arizona, Tucson; and Member, Committee on Strategic Advice on the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, National Research Council, The National Academies

The Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) integrates the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) and President Bush’s Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI). The USGCRP represents the research part of the program, and it spans a wide range of climate and related environmental disciplines and supporting observations and modeling. The CCRI focuses on quantifying uncertainties and research that could lead to improved decision making or public understanding within a few years. The guiding vision for the integrated program is a nation and the global community empowered with the science based knowledge to manage the risks and opportunities of change in the climate and related environmental systems.

Research carried out under the CCSP and USGCRP has led to numerous advances, but evidence of progress has been largely anecdotal. At the request of Dr. James Mahoney, then director of the CCSP, the National Research Council established a committee to develop a method for evaluating progress, and to use that method to make a preliminary assessment of CCSP progress over the last 4 years—the lifetime of the CCSP.

The committee tested several different evaluation approaches, then developed a method that enables all of the major components of the CCSP to be evaluated: (1) overarching goals of the program (e.g., scientific understanding, reduction of uncertainties); (2) research elements (e.g., atmospheric composition, human contributions and responses), which define the research agenda for the program; and (3) cross-cutting issues (e.g., observations, communications), which are common to all of the research elements. Next, the committee hosted a workshop to verify the usefulness of the evaluation method and to obtain input on progress to date from a wide range of stakeholders (scientists, government, private sector, nongovernmental organizations).

The report describes the committee’s evaluation method, provides a comprehensive analysis of progress in the major components of the program, and draws conclusions on which parts of the program have made more progress than others. How the program should evolve to address gaps and weaknesses or to respond to new needs will be addressed in the committee’s second report, which is now underway.

These series of briefings were for members of Congress and congressional staff only. The report was publicly released on Thursday, September 13, 2007 and can be found, in its entirety, on the Web site of the National Academies Press.

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