NOAA 03-089
Contact: Bob Hopkins
NOAA News Releases 2003
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Advances Understanding of Climate Variability, Potential Responses and Options

The Bush Administration today announced unprecedented federal initiatives designed to organize the federal government’s climate change science research system along with funding for global climate observation.

The new, historic initiative brings together the resources and expertise of 13 federal agencies. The Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), a joint federal program of the President’s Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration, has issued its strategic plan to address some of the most complex questions and problems dealing with long-term global climate variability and change. It reflects an unprecedented outreach to interested parties, including some 1,200 scientists and stakeholders and representatives of over 35 countries. The document describes a strategy for developing knowledge of variability and change in climate and related environmental and human systems, and for encouraging the application of this knowledge.

Secretary of Commerce Don Evans also announced a $103 million two-year federal initiative to accelerate the deployment of new global observation technologies, focused on oceans and atmospheric aerosols and carbon. This initiative will provide critical data needed to improve mankind’s understanding of global climate change and the ability of all nations to apply their knowledge. “The Bush Administration has brought a total government spending on climate-change related programs to $4.5 billion. This critical investment announced today will accelerate select high priority research projects and climate observations that will help us fill critical knowledge gaps.”

“President Bush has asked his advisors to consider approaches to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, including those that tap the power of markets, help realize the promise of technology and ensure the widest-possible global participation. The Climate Change Strategic Plan brings together for the first time the resources and expertise of 13 federal agencies. It sets forth a vision, mission and goals based on the principles articulated by President Bush when he established the Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI),” said Don Evans, secretary of Commerce and chairman of the administration’s Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration.

Those principles include:

  • Adopt a measured approach based on the best science
  • Remain flexible, able to adapt to new discoveries and technology
  • Leverage the power of markets and technological innovation
  • Ensure global participation
  • Ensure continued economic growth

The strategic plan will advance the state of knowledge of climate variability, the potential response of the climate system (and related human and environmental systems) to human-induced changes in the atmosphere and land surface, and the implications of these potential changes and management options for natural environments. The plan will also support scientific discovery and excellence, and encourage partnerships that facilitate the use of knowledge to protect the Earth’s environment and ensure a safer, healthier planet for future generations.

According to Spencer Abraham, secretary of Energy and co-chairman of the Committee on Climate Change Science and Technology Integration, “This plan identifies four core approaches that will serve as the backbone to achieving its mission. Those areas are identified as science, observations, decision support and communications. By focusing in these specific areas we can focus on moving in new scientific directions, employing new research activities, filling critical data gaps through observations, developing operational tools for decision-makers and managers and communicating results across communities and across borders.”

Working within the core constructs, the plan outlines five overarching scientific goals aimed at addressing key questions and uncertainties. They include:

  • Extend knowledge of the Earth’s past and present climate and environment, including its natural variability, and improve understanding of the causes of observed changes
  • Improve understanding of the forces bringing about changes in the Earth’s climate and related systems
  • Reduce uncertainty in projections of how the Earth’s climate and environmental systems may change in the future
  • Understand the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed systems to climate and associated global changes
  • Explore the uses and identify the limits of evolving knowledge to manage risks and opportunities related to climate variability and change

“The CCSP strategic plan is a framework to address some of the most complex questions and problems that our nation and the world now face,” said retired Navy Vice Adm. Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Ph.D., undersecretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and NOAA administrator. “The issue of climate variability and change, the level and potential affects of human contributions to these issues and how we adapt and manage our response is a capstone issue for our generation and those to follow.”

James R. Mahoney, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, deputy NOAA administrator and director of the CCSP stated, “This plan leverages existing knowledge to learn new things, builds bridges across communities and scientific disciplines to gain greater insight, reaches out to decision-makers to put knowledge into action. We are committed to maintaining an open and transparent process to ensure that our partners are heard and we hear them. It stakes out new scientific ground in the area of climate-change modeling and observations and promises to adapt to new technology and discoveries.”

Reacting to the unveiling of the CCSP, Bruce Albert, president of the National Academy of Sciences said the following, “I highly commend Jim Mahoney for his insistence on soliciting the widest possible scientific input into the US government’s important Strategic Plan for Climate Change Science. As our government sets national priorities for global change research, it is critical that it have access to leading scientists. I am of course especially pleased that he has asked the National Academies to conduct an open, high quality review of both the draft and revised versions of the Strategic Plan. Our committee chaired by Thomas Graedel of Yale University has already reviewed the draft strategic plan, working to provide constructive advice for its revision. This committee will continue to provide useful guidance to the Climate Change Science Program from a group of the nation’s best scientists, and it will meet again this August to begin its review of the revised Strategic Plan.

On the Web:

CCSP and the strategic plan: