Our Changing Planet FY 1995
The IPCC was established by the WMO and UNEP in 1988. It derives part of its mandate from the UN General Assembly. The purpose of the IPCC is to lead the assessments on the climate change issue. These assessments over the past five years have not only provided information requested by governments, but also have served to identify components of the climate change issue that deserve priority attention from the research community. To date, the IPCC has produced the 1990 Assessment Report and a 1992 Supplement. Together, these reports establish a common basis of scientific knowledge. This science base has been used by governments in negotiating the Framework Convention on Climate Change, which was signed at the U.N. Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED). A Second Supplementary Report to the IPCC Scientific Assessment, focusing on radiative forcing of the climate system, is scheduled for release in June 1994 and will serve as the scientific input to the First Meeting of the Parties of the FCCC, currently anticipated to be held in 1995.
IPCC is also due to complete a second comprehensive assessment in 1995. Member agencies of the USGCRP will continue to closely coordinate efforts to assure support for participation of U.S. scientists in the three IPCC working groups. Working Group I, co- chaired by the United Kingdom and Brazil, is charged with assessing the state of science with respect to the climate system, including possible changes to it resulting from human activities. Working Group II, co-chaired by the United States and Zimbabwe, assesses potential impacts, adaptation, and mitigation measures. Working Group III, co-chaired by Canada and South Korea, addresses cross- cutting issues, including the economic implications of climate change and of selected emissions scenarios.
Participation of U.S. scientists as lead and contributing authors is particularly strong due to the many activities supported by the USGCRP. In addition, the USGCRP has established an IPCC Secretariat for Working Group II. The Secretariat provides international and U.S. coordination, as well as support to U.S. authors of the 1994 supplement and the 1995 IPCC assessments.
U.S. scientists, with strong support from the USGCRP, have also played a leadership role in developing a series of international assessments of stratospheric ozone depletion. In accordance with the provisions of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, which entered into force in January 1989, UNEP, in coordination with WMO, has sponsored a series of reports assessing the current state of knowledge of (1) scientific, (2) environmental, and (3) economic and technological matters relevant to implementation of the Protocol. The assessments are prepared at least every fourth year at the request of the Parties.
The UNEP/WMO assessments serve as the internationally recognized technical input underlying decisions taken by the Parties to amend the Protocol. The 1989 assessments were used as the basis for the London Amendments adopted in 1990, and the 1991 assessments were used as the basis for the Copenhagen Amendments adopted in 1992. A 1992 supplementary assessment on the science, technology and economics of methyl bromide served as the basis for decisions made that year by the Parties to limit methyl bromide use. Current plans call for a 1994 set of assessments for consideration at the Seventh Meeting of the Parties in 1995.
International programs are coordinated at a series of levels, including scientist-to-scientist, agency-to-agency, and government- to-government through a broad range of multilateral and bilateral organizations and arrangements (see figure). Many of these arrangements involve United Nations agencies concerned with global change research, including WMO, UNEP, and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC) of UNESCO. The International Council of Scientific Unions (ICSU) provides strong leadership for scientific planning for many of these key international programs, especially the WCRP and the IGBP. The U.S. shares in funding ICSU's coordination of these activities, and U.S. scientists and agencies participate on and interact regularly with ICSU, its Secretariat, and various related committees. U.S. scientists have chaired many of the international scientific steering groups for the major international global change research programs. Moreover, the USGCRP supports the international offices of the IGBP Task Force on Global Analysis, Interpretation, and Modeling (GAIM) located at the University of New Hampshire and the IGBP regional field programs as well.
Some examples of global change research activities on the regional level include the sponsorship in 1994 by the North Pacific Marine Science Organization (PICES) of workshops on Monitoring Subarctic Pacific Ocean Variables and on developing a PICES-GLOBEC International Program on Climate Change and Carrying Capacity. In addition, a new PICES Working Group will begin addressing important questions on modeling of the subarctic North Pacific circulation. In August 1993 the International Council for the Exploration of the Sea (ICES) sponsored a symposium of GLOBEC scientists on Cod and Climate Change in the North Atlantic. An ICES Working Group will convene ICES-GLOBEC workshops in 1994 to assist in distinguishing anthropogenic from natural changes affecting cod stocks.
Leading international economic organizations are also now considering how global change might impact economic development and are identifying global change research-related issues. These include the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), which in 1993 convened an experts' meeting on global change that recommended greater scientific input from the social science community to the policy process, and the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation organization (APEC), which is reviewing the impacts and effects of global change in the Asia/Pacific region in its Marine Resource Conservation Working Group.
The U.S. expects to work closely with the European Union and the countries of Central and Eastern Europe and of Africa to develop regional global change research agendas for the European Network for Research in Global Change (ENRICH). ENRICH is intended to improve coordination of global change research in three areas: Western Europe; Central and Eastern Europe; and Africa. The European Union is expected to soon establish a central ENRICH Office in Brussels with liaison offices in each of the above three regions.
Japan hosted, in January of 1994, a second workshop to plan an Asia-Pacific Network for Global Change Research (APN). This workshop advanced planning for an APN to serve as a framework within which sub-regional networks, in areas such as southeast and temperate East Asia, can coordinate their research efforts. It is expected that the APN will focus on issues of regional scope, such as tropical and coastal processes in the Pacific.
The U.S. will continue to actively support establishment of a multinational network of centers to develop and issue experimental seasonal to interannual climate predictions. The purpose of this network is to improve understanding of the global climate system, to advance our ability to predict ENSO-related climate variability on seasonal to interannual time scales, and to produce and systematically disseminate regionally-tailored climate forecasts for use in a wide range of economic and social planning activities. Activities in 1994 include: the convening of the second in a series of nine-month training exercises for international climatologists at the Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory; workshops to examine the potential applications of climate predictions for North America and Africa; application exercises in Peru, the Pacific islands, Brazil, Australia, Southeast Asia, and southern South America; and a high-level intergovernmental meeting to launch multinational coordination of those activities.
The international commitment to build indigenous capacities for global change research in the developing world is reflected in the SysTem for Analysis, Research and Training (START), a joint effort of the HDP, IGBP, and WCRP to develop regional research networks for global change. The START regional research networks promote focused research and training on regional issues of global importance, integrate and synthesize the research results, and provide input to decision makers at national and regional levels. The USGCRP supports the operation of the START Secretariat and the participation of U.S. scientists in the development of the START scientific agenda.
CEOS is focusing over the coming year on three major topics. The first involves establishment of networks for global satellite observational data, which includes consideration of surface networks as well. CEOS has set up an ad hoc working group on this issue, which will include U.S. scientists and is expected to be very active in 1994. CEOS provides a forum for promoting the full and open exchange of data at minimal cost (a policy the U.S. strongly endorses). Pilot projects with IGBP involving access to high resolution satellite data at substantially reduced prices are underway. CEOS will also address data exchange principles for non- commercial operational, environmental uses that benefit the public. U.S., European, and Japanese science agencies are planning an international workshop in April, 1994 to address this issue.
A May 1994 workshop, to be hosted by the Federal Republic of Germany, will provide an opportunity for international organizations affiliated with CEOS to continue refining and prioritizing their observational requirements from space and for CEOS members to evaluate the capabilities of current and planned satellite systems to meet those requirements. Another CEOS workshop will be hosted by Brazil in May 1994 to consider how CEOS members might encourage the use of Earth observation data in developing countries. The tenth anniversary of CEOS will be marked in the coming year to bring increased international recognition to this informal organization, which has contributed significantly to global change research through improved coordination among Earth-observing satellite operators in payload planning, calibration and validation, networking, data management, and data policy.
Bilateral agreements with Japan, involving global change research, include the U.S./Japan Science and Technology Agreement (UJST) and the U.S./Japan Natural Resources Agreement (UJNR). Moreover, U.S. cooperation with Japan includes global change data and information exchange and cooperative space missions for Earth observation. More than 47 global change projects are ongoing with Japan through the UJST, including a series of workshops to identify topics for and to promote cooperation between Japanese and U.S. scientists. A third workshop, planned for late 1994, will consider how scientists in both countries might best improve capabilities in modeling the impacts of global change. The U.S. and Japan also recently sponsored a workshop under the UJST on Applications of Remote Sensing Technology to Natural Disaster Reduction. This workshop identified specific projects for bilateral cooperation, including data exchanges for disaster warning and mitigation.
Another activity between the U.S. and Japan is the Global Observation Information Network (GOIN) initiative, carried out under the U.S.-Japan Common Agenda for Cooperation in Global Perspective. The GOIN Joint Working Group, which met twice during 1993, identified existing and planned networks, proposed candidate data sets and prototype demonstrations, and drafted a two-year work plan.
A bilateral agreement with Russia supporting joint research on environmental change has been in place for 22 years. Several dozen activities related to global change are underway. For example, U.S. and Russian scientists are using paleoclimatic data (especially from the large land areas of the two countries) to attempt to determine how the Earth's climate has been affected by past changes in atmospheric composition, solar insolation, and other naturally changing factors. A study is also underway of the Lake Baikal region directed toward protecting the lake's biodiversity, ensuring its sustainable use, and developing sound scientific input to land and water management plans. Research is being conducted to compare the native fish species and the effects of exotic invaders on the large fresh water systems of Lake Baikal and the U.S. Great Lakes.
The U.S. provides substantial bilateral assistance to developing countries for programs associated with issues such as climate change, biodiversity, tropical forests, water resources, environmentally sound energy use, and sustainable agriculture. Participation in international research and activities to promote the use of natural gas and clean coal technology contributes to the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and will be particularly important given the prospects for increased use of coal in developing countries.
Arrangements have also been developed between the U.S. and other countries to support joint research. Examples include:
Indonesia The USGCRP is working closely with the Indonesian National Institute of Aeronautics and Space (LAPAN) to study the throughflow from the Pacific to the Indian Ocean, a process which is poorly understood but is a critical factor in global ocean circulation. Complementary studies of coastal and terrestrial ecology and their responses to global change are also proposed with the Indonesian Ministry for Science and Technology (LIPI).
Central and Eastern Europe The USGCRP is working with several Baltic countries to set up joint environmental monitoring and assessment programs for Baltic wetlands and terrestrial and surface water ecosystems.
The Arctic The U.S. participates in the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP), under the Arctic Environmental Protection Strategy, which is developing a computer inventory of pollutants that affect the region. The USGCRP, in cooperation with the Russian Academy of Sciences, is supporting an analysis of the biospheric role of the Siberian forests and their influence on global change.
Brazil The U.S. also participates in the Brazilian Rain Forest Pilot Project, initiated by the Government of Brazil in cooperation with the G-7 countries at the 1990 Houston Economic Summit. This project is intended to improve the knowledge and understanding of Amazonian ecosystems, promote sustainable natural resource management, and encourage the application of environmentally friendly technologies to improve human conditions in the region.
Country Studies The United States has initiated a $25 million program ($18 million funded by the USGCRP) to assist developing countries and countries with economies in transition to generate inventories of greenhouse gases, assess their vulnerability to climate change, and evaluate strategies for reducing net emissions of greenhouse gases and adapting to potential impacts of climate change.
The Country Studies initiative complements the President's commitment to reduce U.S. greenhouse gas emissions to 1990 levels by the year 2000 and reaffirms the U.S. commitment to the objectives and principles outlined in the Framework Convention on Climate Change.
Go to Chapter 5
Return to Chapter 3
Return to Table of Contents