Developing New Technologies

Efforts to reduce transportation- and energy-related GHG emissions focus on reducing total energy demand (through, for example, conservation or changes in consumption patterns) improving energy efficiency reducing the GHG intensity of the energy supply (by using energy sources that emit fewer or no GHGs) and direct capture and sequestration of CO2 during or after the combustion of fossil fuels (see Figure 4.2 and Chapters 13 and 14). The strategy of reducing demand is discussed earlier (under...

Freshwater Resources10

The availability of water for human and ecosystem use depends on two main factors (1) the climate-driven global water cycle and (2) society's ability to manage, store, and conserve water resources. Each of these factors is complex, as is their interaction. Water cycling which includes evaporation and transpiration, precipitation, and both surface runoff and groundwater movement determines how freshwater flows and how it interacts with other processes. Precipitation amounts, intensity,...

Improve understanding of how transportation contributes to climate change As

Society moves from vehicles propelled by internal combustion engines using petroleum-based fuels to vehicles using more varied types of propulsion systems and fuels, it will be increasingly important to understand the full life cycle of GHG emissions generated by various vehicle and fuel combinations, including the emissions and energy implications associated with vehicle production. The move from tank-to-wheels to well-to-wheels emissions analyses represents an important step in this...

Research on development of analytical frameworks for evaluating tradeoffs and avoiding unintended consequences

Ing trade-offs and synergies among efforts to limit the magnitude of climate change and efforts to adapt to climate change. There are many possible co-benefits associated with some of the technologies and strategies discussed in this chapter and the companion reports (NRC, 2010a,c). For example, along with the benefits of reducing GHG emissions and climate change, use of almost every energy efficiency or lower-emissions energy alternative will yield co-benefits in terms of reduced air pollution...

The Role of Ocean Ecosystems in Managing Carbon and Climate Change

The ocean contains far more carbon than the atmosphere or land ecosystems. Storage of carbon in the ocean occurs by several mechanisms whose rates can be altered by human activities. In the ocean, CO2 dissolves directly in sea water CO2 is sequestered when marine plants photosynthesize, and organic carbon ultimately sinks to great depths and CO2 is also sequestered by conversion to CaCO3 by plankton, invertebrates, and fish (Wilson et al., 2009), CaCO3 that either forms sediments or sinks to...

Wind Energy

Wind electricity generation is already a mature technology and approximately cost competitive in many areas of the country and the world, especially with electricity generated from natural gas. The installed capacity for electricity generated from wind at the end of 2009 was approximately 159 GW, or about 2 percent of worldwide energy usage (WWEA, 2010). Wind turbine size has been increasing as technology has developed, and offshore wind farms are being constructed and proposed worldwide. As...

The United States Global Change Research Program

The commitment of the United States to a national research program on climate began with the passage by Congress of the National Climate Program Act in 1978. The act was designed to establish a comprehensive and coordinated national climate policy and program. The following year, the National Research Council released Strategy for the National Climate Program (NRC, 1980c), the first of a number of reviews and advisory documents prepared by the NRC on the program. Even though the National...

Chapter Conclusion

Climate change has the potential to intersect with virtually every aspect of human activity, with significant repercussions for things that people care about. The risks associated with climate change have motivated many decision makers to begin to take or plan actions to limit climate change or adapt to its impacts. These actions and plans, in turn, place new demands on climate change research. While scientific research alone cannot determine what actions should be taken in response to climate...

Bioenergy

Bioenergy refers to liquid or solid fuels derived from biological sources and used for heat, electricity generation, or transportation. Electricity generation using biomass is much the same as that from fossil fuels it generally involves a steam turbine cycle. The key difference is that typical output for a wood-based biomass power plant is about 50 MW, while conventional coal-fired plants generally produce anywhere from 100 to 1,500 MW (NRC, 2009a). In the United States, interest in biomass...

Theme 4 Research To Support Strategies For Limiting Climate Change

Decisions about how to limit the magnitude of climate change, by how much, and by when demand input from research activities that span the physical, biological, and social science disciplines as well as engineering and public health. In addition to assessing the feasibility, costs, and potential consequences of different options and objectives, research is critical for developing new and improving existing technologies, policies, goals, and strategies for reducing GHG emissions. Scientific...

Characteristics of Vulnerability and Adaptation Analyses

Vulnerability and adaptation analyses can be performed in many contexts and have a wide range of uses. In general, vulnerability analyses assess exposure to and impacts from a disturbance, as well as sensitivity to these impacts and the capacity to reduce or adapt to the negative consequences of the disturbance. These analyses can then be used by decision makers to help decide where, how much, and in what ways to intervene in human or environmental systems to reduce vulnerability, enhance...

Ocean Acidification

In addition to its climate impacts, CO2 released by human activities can influence ecosystem dynamics in aquatic systems by altering water chemistry in particular, the reaction of CO2 with water to form carbonic acid (H2CO3), which lowers (acidifies) ocean pH. Roughly one-third of all CO2 released by human activities since preindustrial times has been absorbed by the sea (Doney et al., 2009 Sabine and Feely, 2005 Sabine et al., 2004 Takahashi et al., 2006) consequently, ocean pH has decreased...

Research Needs for Advancing Science on Agriculture Fisheries and Food Production in the Context of Climate Change

A broad range of research is needed to understand the impacts of climate change on food production systems and to develop strategies that assist in both limiting the magnitude of climate change through management practices and reducing vulnerability and increasing adaptive capacity in regions and populations in the United States and other parts of the world. Some critical research needs, which are explored in further detail in Chapter 10, are listed below. Improve understanding and models of...

Atmospheric Temperatures

In addition to surface-based thermometer measurements, regular and widespread measurements of the vertical profile of atmospheric temperatures are available from both satellites and weather balloons for the last several decades. Weather balloons, which are launched twice per day from over 800 sites around the world, carry instruments known as radiosondes that directly measure atmospheric conditions and radio these data back to receiving stations. Although these measurements are taken primar- 1...

Other Indicators of Climate Change

Additional direct indicators of a warming trend over the last several decades can be found in the cryosphere and oceans. As discussed in detail in Chapter 7, the vast majority of the total heating associated with human-caused GHG emissions has actually gone into the world's oceans, which have warmed substantially over the last several decades (Levitus et al., 2009). In the cryosphere, mountain glaciers and icecaps are melting (these changes are also discussed in detail in Chapter 7), rivers and...

Livestock Production

Livestock respond to climate change directly through heat and humidity stresses, and they are also affected indirectly by changes in forage quantity and quality, water availability, and disease. Because heat stress reduces milk production, weight gain, and reproduction in livestock, production of pork, beef, and milk is projected to decline with warming temperatures, especially those above 5.4 F (3 C Backlund et al., 2008) (Figure 10.2). In addition, livestock losses due to heat waves are...

Science to Support Managing Terrestrial Ecosystems to Limit the Magnitude of Climate Change

Managing land ecosystems provides opportunities to both limit the magnitude of climate change and ameliorate its negative consequences for society. Tropical deforestation and degradation, for example, contributed approximately 17 percent of anthropogenic carbon emissions in 2004 (Barker et al., 2007a). The opportunity to reduce emissions from deforestation and degradation (REDD) has been recognized within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change as a relatively low-cost option...

References

Sundquist. 2008. Comparison of two U.S. power-plant carbon dioxide emissions data sets. Environmental Science & Technology 42(15) 5688-5693. Adams, P. N., and D. L. Inman. 2009. Climate Change and Potential Hotspots of Coastal Erosion Along the Southern California Coast Final Report. CEC-500-2009-022-F, Sacramento, California Energy Commission. Adger, W. N., J. Paavola, S. Huq, and M. J. Mace, eds. 2006. Fairness in Adaptation to Climate Change. Cambridge, MA MIT...

Assessing the Costs and Benefits of Climate Targets

One of the most critical issues in policy design is comparing and assessing different trajectories to achieve GHG emissions reductions and evaluating the consequences and implications of those trajectories for human and environmental systems. A recent NRC study (NRC, 2010j) examined the implications for a range of climate stabilization targets. In contrast, this subsection provides a high-level overview of the social science research needs associated with analytic methods to evaluate targets,...

Fuel Switching

Natural gas is the cleanest of the fossil fuels, with the lowest GHG emissions per unit of energy, emitting about half of the CO2 of coal when burned for electricity generation, as well as generally lower emissions of other pollutants. Shifting electric generation from coal to natural gas could significantly reduce emissions. Such a shift would be useful but would not by itself reduce emissions sufficiently for a low-emissions future to minimize climate change. Thus, natural gas is more likely...

Human Activities Are Associated with a Net Warming Effect on Climate

Human activities have led to higher concentrations of a number of GHGs as well as other climate forcing agents. For example, the human-caused increase in CO2 since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution is associated with a warming effect equivalent to approximately 1.6 Watts of energy per square meter of the Earth's surface (Figure 2.4). Although this may seem like a small amount of energy, when multiplied by the surface area of the Earth it is 50 times larger than the total power consumed...

Hydropower

Technologies for converting energy from water to electricity include conventional hydroelectric technologies and emerging hydrokinetic technologies that can convert ocean tidal currents, wave energy, and thermal gradients into electricity. Conventional hydroelectricity or hydropower, the largest source of renewable electricity, comes from capturing the energy from freshwater rivers and converting it to electricity. Hydroelectric power supplies about 715,000 megawatts (MW), or 19 percent, of...

Environmental Benefit Cost and Cost Effectiveness Analyses

Integrated assessment models are intended to help decision makers understand the implications of taking different courses of action, but when there are many outcomes of concern, the problem of how to make trade-offs remains. Benefit-cost analysis is a common method for making trade-offs across outcomes and thus linking modeling to the decision-support systems (see Chapter 17). Benefit-cost analysis defines each outcome as either a benefit or a cost, assigns a value to each of the projected...

Military Operations

LCimate change and responses to it may affect the U.S. military in several ways. The Department of Defense (DOD) was directed in 2009 by the U.S. Congress to include the potential impacts of climate change in their 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review (QDR). The QDR is a legislatively mandated review of DOD strategy and priorities that sets the long-term course for DOD by assessing the threats and challenges the nation faces and rebalancing the Department's strategies, capabilities, and forces to...

Research Needs

Given the challenges noted in the previous section, it is clear that expanded research efforts will be needed to help farmers, development planners, and others engaged in the agricultural sector to understand and respond to projected impacts of climate change on agriculture. There may also be opportunities to limit the magnitude of future climate change though changes in agricultural practices it will be important to link such strategies with adaptation strategies so they complement rather than...

Managing Freshwater In A Changing Climate

In the face of the many, and sometimes uncertain, impacts on freshwater resources outlined above, water managers face a variety of challenges. For example, new infrastructure construction (e.g., large dams) is expected to be limited, so water managers will have to develop and implement approaches to increase the efficiency of water use (Gleick, 2003a,b). On the other hand, existing water infrastructure (e.g., reservoirs, conveyer pipes, sewage lines, and treatment plants) will need to be...

Improve understanding of climate system forcing feedbacks and sensitivity

Past several decades have seen tremendous progress in quantifying human influences on climate and assessing the response of the climate system to these influences. This progress has been critical both in establishing the current level of confidence in human-induced climate change and in developing reliable projections of future changes. Key uncertainties remain, however, and continued research on the basic mechanisms and processes of climate change can be expected to yield additional progress....

Panel On Limiting The Magnitude Of Future Climate Change

FRI (Chair), Resources for the Future, Washington, D.C. MARILYN A. BROWN (Vice Chair), Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta DOUG ARENT, National Renewable Energy Laboratory, Golden, Colorado ANN CARLSON, University of California, Los Angeles MAJORA CARTER, Majora Carter Group, LLC, Bronx, New York LEON CLARKE, Joint Global Change Research Institute (Pacific Northwest National Laboratory University of Maryland), College Park, Maryland FRANCISCO DE LA CHESNAYE, Electric Power...

Policy Oriented Heuristic Models

Policy-oriented simulation methods can be a useful tool for informing policy makers about the basic characteristics of climate policy choices. These simulation methods can either involve informal linkages between policy choices, climate trajectories, and economic information, or be implemented in a formal integrated modeling framework. For example, the C-ROADS model6 divides the countries of the world into blocs 6 See with common situations or common interests (such as the developed nations),...

Challenges of Analyzing Vulnerability

Because of the complexity of interactions within and the variance among coupled human-environment systems, integrated vulnerability and adaptation analyses often rely New Orleans, Louisiana, in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, showing Interstate 10 at West End Boulevard, looking toward Lake Pontchartrain.This photo is from the U.S. Coast Guard's initial Hurricane Katrina damage assessment overflights of New Orleans. SOURCE U.S. Coast Guard, Petty Officer 2nd Class Kyle Niemi. New Orleans,...

Impacts of Climate Change on Land Based Ecosystems and Biodiversity

A series of place-based observations, meta-analyses, and models indicate that climate shifts have already begun to change the geographical range of plants and animal species on land (IPRC, 2007c). In the extreme, some plants and animals have experienced maximum range shifts over the past 30 years that approach the magnitude of those witnessed in the transition from last glacial maximum to the present (NRC, 2008b Parmesan and Yohe, 2003). In the Northern Hemisphere, range shifts are almost...

Science To Support Technology Deployment

Substantial reductions in CO2 emissions from the energy sector will require integrated deployment of multiple technologies energy efficiency, renewables, coal and natural gas with CCS, and nuclear. Widespread deployment is expected to take on the order of years to decades. Such system-level implementation and integration require not only technology research and development but also research on potential hidden costs of implementation, the barriers to deployment, and the infrastructure and...

Introduction Science for Understanding and Responding to Climate Change

Humans have always been influenced by climate. Despite the wealth and technology of modern industrial societies, climate still affects human well-being in fundamental ways. Climate influences, for example, where people live, what they eat, how they earn their livings, how they move around, and what they do for recreation. Climate regulates food production and water resources and influences energy use, disease transmission, and other aspects of human health and well-being. It also influences the...

Drought

Drought is a complex environmental impact and is affected strongly by the balance between precipitation and evapotranspiration and the concomitant effect on soil moisture. Global climate models predict increasing summer temperatures and decreasing summer precipitation in many continental areas, implying reductions in soil moisture. Long-term records of soil moisture are sparse, and the records that do exist do not show depletion of soil moisture, possibly due to reductions in solar radiation...

Water Quality and Groundwater Supplies May Be Affected

Some regions of the United States rely on groundwater for drinking, residential use, or agriculture. The impacts of climate change on groundwater are far from clear in fact, little research effort has been devoted to this topic. Changes in precipitation and evaporation patterns, plant growth processes, and incursions of sea water into coastal aquifers as sea levels rise will all affect the rate of groundwater recharge, the absolute volume of groundwater available, groundwater quality, and the...

The Greenhouse Effect is a Natural Phenomenon That Is Critical for Life as We Know It

GHGs which include water vapor, carbon dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and several others are present in relatively low concentrations in the atmosphere, but, because of their ability to absorb and re-radiate infrared energy, they trap heat near the Earth's surface, keeping it much warmer than it would otherwise be (Figure 2.1). The atmospheric concentrations of GHGs have increased over the past two centuries as a result of human activities, especially the burning of the...

Extreme Temperatures And Thermal Stress

Heat waves are the leading causes of weather-related morbidity and mortality in the United States (CDC, 2006 Changnon et al., 1996). Between 1979 and 1999, some 8,015 deaths in the United States were heat related, and 3,829 of these were linked to weather conditions (Donoghue et al., 2003). As with other extreme events, the risk of heat waves is not evenly distributed across the country for example, populations in the Midwest are at increased risk for illness and death during heat waves (CCSP,...

Climate Change Impacts on Ocean Ecosystems

Over recent decades, marine scientists have detected widespread poleward shifts in species distributions that are consistent with patterns of a warming ocean (Alheit and Hagen, 1997 Holbrook et al., 1997 Mueter and Litzow, 2008 Sagarin et al., 1999 Southward et al., 1995). Marine species can be highly mobile, both as adults and as microscopic young drifting in the plankton (Kinlan and Gaines, 2003). This mobility can lead to larger and faster geographic shifts than in terrestrial ecosystems....

Science To Support Adaptation In Agricultural Systems

The ability of farmers and the entire food production, processing, and distribution system to adapt to climate change will contribute to, and to some extent govern, the ultimate impacts of climate change on food production. Adaptation strategies may include changes in location as well as in-place changes such as shifts in planting dates and varieties expansion of irrigated or managed areas diversification of crops and other income sources application of agricultural chemicals changes in...

Types Of Climate Policies And Agreements

While there is a great deal of complexity and nuance involved in policy assessment, the IPCC (Gupta et al., 2007) concludes that there is high agreement and much evidence to support a number of conclusions about the major kinds of national policies that have been proposed and in some cases implemented to limit climate change. The IPCC also points out (see Table 17.1) Direct regulation, when enforced, can reduce emissions. Taxes are cost effective but do not guarantee a particular level of...

Ice Sheets

Land ice contained in the world's glaciers and ice sheets contributes directly to sea level rise through melt or the flow of ice into the sea (Figure 7.4). In contrast, when sea ice, which is already floating on the ocean surface, melts, it contributes only a negligible amount to sea level rise (Jenkins and Holland, 2007 Noerdlinger and Brower, FIGURE 7.4 Outlet glaciers in Northwest Greenland. SOURCE Photo by K. Steffen. FIGURE 7.4 Outlet glaciers in Northwest Greenland. SOURCE Photo by K....

Geothermal Energy

There are three components to the geothermal resource base (1) geothermal heating and cooling, or direct heating and cooling by surface or near-surface geothermal energy (2) hydrothermal systems involving the production of electricity using hot water or steam accessible within approximately 3 km of Earth's surface and (3) enhanced geothermal systems (EGS) using hydraulic stimulation to mine the heat stored in low-permeability rocks at depths down to 10 km and use it to generate electricity....

Freshwater Resources

Humans and ecosystems rely on water for life. The availability of water depends on both the climate-driven global water cycle and on society's ability to manage, store, and conserve water resources. Climate change is affecting both the quantity and quality of Earth's water supplies. Already, precipitation amounts and patterns are changing, and these trends are expected to continue or intensify in the future. This creates significant challenges for water resource management, especially where...

Effective Decision Support Systems

A decision-support system includes the individuals, organizations, networks, and institutions that develop decision-relevant knowledge, as well as the mechanisms to share and disseminate that knowledge and related products and services (NRC, 2009g). Agricultural or marine extension services, with all their strengths and weaknesses, are an important historical example of a decision-support system that has helped make scientific knowledge relevant to and available for practical decision making in...

Introducing Realistic Complexity into Analyses of Climate Policy

In the United States as of December 2009, 32 states and the District of Columbia had adopted mandatory standards that, over the next 10 to 20 years, will require that between about 10 and 15 percent2 of the energy supplied by utilities come from alternative and renewable sources (Pew Center on Global Climate Change, 2009). Four other states have voluntary standards. State and local governments as well as the federal government have a variety of programs, including labeling, appliance standards,...

Conclusion 1 Climate change is occurring is caused largely by human activities and poses significant risks forand in

This conclusion is based on a substantial array of scientific evidence, including recent work, and is consistent with the conclusions of recent assessments by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (e.g., USGCRP, 2009a), the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2007a-d), and other assessments of the state of scientific knowledge on climate change. Both our assessment the details of which can be found in Chapter 2 and Part II (Chapters 6-17) of this report...

Cities Play a Major Role in Driving Climate Change

As the venue for the majority of the world's production and consumption, cities are the geographical loci of energy use, which is the primary source of GHG emissions. This role of cities grows even more significant when their environmental footprint is considered, including, for example, the impact of urban dwellers' emissions on local and regional air pollution and of their materials consumption on distant deforestation. 14 For additional discussion and references, see Chapter 12 in Part II of...

Impacts Of Sea Level Rise And Other Climate Changes On Coastal Environments

Coastal areas are among the most densely populated regions of the United States, and around the world. In 2003, 53 percent of the U.S. population lived in (1) counties with at least 15 percent of its total land area located within the nation's coastal watershed or (2) a county with a portion of its land that accounts for at least 15 percent of a coastal cataloging unit1 bordering the ocean and the Great Lakes, and 23 of the 25 most densely populated counties in 2003 were coastal counties...

The Relationship Between Climate And National Security

Identified concerns about climate-national security linkages, and associated research areas and needs, can be divided into two categories. First, both climate change and efforts to respond to it may have significant effects on the operations, assets, and missions of the U.S. military. Many U.S. bases are located in areas that may be affected by sea level rise and tropical storms, and some future military operations may take place in areas subject to extreme high temperatures and droughts,...

Research Needs for Advancing Science on Ecosystems Ecosystems Services and Biodiversity in the Context of Climate Change

Research is needed to better understand and project the impacts of climate change on ecosystems, ecosystem services, and biodiversity and to evaluate how land and ocean changes and management options influence the climate system. Some of the key research needs in these areas, which are described in further detail in Chapter 9, include the following Improve understanding of how higher temperatures, enhanced CO2, and other climate changes, acting in conjunction with other stresses, are...

Integrated Assessment Models

In the context of climate change, integrated assessment models typically incorporate a climate model of moderate or intermediate complexity with models of the economic system (especially the industrial and energy sectors), land use, agriculture, ecosystems, or other systems or sectors germane to the question being addressed. Rather than focusing on precise projections of key system variables, integrated assessment models are typically used to compare the relative effectiveness and implications...

Integrative Themes for Climate Change Research

One of the main tasks assigned to the Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change was to identify the additional science needed to improve our understanding of climate change and its interactions with human and environmental systems, including the scientific advances needed to improve the effectiveness of actions taken to respond to climate change. An examination of the research needs identified in the technical chapters of Part II of the report reveals that there is indeed still much to...

Low Carbon Fuels for Electricity Production

Energy systems that do not rely on fossil fuels and will ultimately be needed to limit the magnitude of future climate change. Switching from one fossil fuel to another having lower emissions (e.g., from coal to natural gas for power generation) also remains an important near-term option. Increasing the efficiency of power generation (for example, by adding combined-cycle technology to natural gas-fueled plants) can also contribute to lower carbon emissions per unit of energy produced. However,...

Carbon Dioxide Removal Approaches

Fossil fuel sources are likely to remain an important part of the U.S energy system for the near future (NRC, 2009d), in part because of their abundance and the legacy of infrastructure investments. Hence, it makes sense to consider options for capturing the GHGs emitted during or after fossil fuel combustion. Virtually all of these approaches have focused on removing CO2, as it is by far the most abundant GHG contributing to human-caused global warming. While there have been pilot projects and...

Marine Fisheries

The impacts of climate change on marine-based food systems are far less well known than impacts on agriculture, but there is rapidly growing evidence that they could be severe (see Chapter 9). This is especially problematic given that a sizeable fraction of the world's fisheries are already overexploited (Worm et al., 2009) and many are also subject to pollution from land or under stress from the decline of critical habitats like coral reefs and wetlands (Halpern et al., 2008 Sherman et al.,...

Responding To Sea Level Rise

General scientific understanding of people's vulnerability and ability to adapt to sea level rise and other climate changes has increased substantially in recent years, though place-based, sector-specific knowledge remains extremely limited. Developing countries are expected to generally face greater challenges in dealing with the impacts of rising sea levels because of large exposed populations and lower adaptive capacity which is largely a function of economic, technological, and knowledge...

Impacts Of Climate Change On Cities

Given their concentration of people, industry, and infrastructure, cities and built environments are generally expected to face significant impacts from climate change. Some of the most important impacts will be associated with changes in the frequency and intensity of extreme weather. Hurricane Katrina in 2005 illustrated the potential for extreme events to cause catastrophic damage to human well-being as well as urban infrastructure likewise, temperature extremes in cities increasingly cause...

Future Climate Change Will Affect Land Based Ecosystems in a Variety of Ways

Both the amount and rate of warming will influence the ability of plants and animals to adapt. In addition, temperature changes will interact with changes in CO2, precipitation, pests, soil characteristics, and other factors. Tree species, for example, are expected to shift their ranges northward or upslope, with some current forest types such as oak-hickory expanding, others such as maple-beech contracting, and still others such as spruce-fir disappearing from the United States altogether...

What We Know About Climate Change and Its Interactions with People and Ecosystems

Over the past several decades, the international and national research communities have developed a progressively clearer picture of how and why Earth's climate is changing and of the impacts of climate change on a wide range of human and environmental systems. Research has also evaluated actions that could be taken and in some cases are already being taken to limit the magnitude of future climate change and adapt to its impacts. In the United States, a series of reports by the U.S. Global...

Projections of 21stCentury Climate

The most comprehensive suite of climate modeling experiments performed to date were completed in 2005 as part of the World Climate Research Programme's Coupled Model Intercomparison Project phase 3 (CMIP3 Meehl et al., 2007b) in support of the IPCC's Fourth Assessment Report. CMIP3 included 23 different state-of-the-art models from groups around the world, all of which were run with a specific set of emissions scenarios (based on the SRES report described above) to facilitate comparison and...

Impacts Of Climate Change On Transportation

In 2008 the Transportation Research Board released a report titled Potential Impacts of Climate Change on US Transportation (NRC, 2008g). The report assesses some of the possible impacts of climate change on various transportation systems, with an emphasis on four categories of climate change impacts increases in very hot days and heat waves, increases in arctic temperatures, rising sea levels, and increases in hurricane intensity. These impacts are summarized in Table 13.2. While not an...

GHG Emissions and Concentrations Are Increasing

Atmospheric Co2 Concentrations

Human activities have increased the concentration of CO2 and certain other GHGs in the atmosphere. Detailed worldwide records of fossil fuel consumption indicate that fossil fuel burning currently releases over 30 billion tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year (Figure 2.3, blue curve). Tropical deforestation and other land use changes release an additional 3 to 5 billion tons every year. Precise measurements of atmospheric composition at many sites around the world indicate that CO2 levels...

The Climate System Exhibits Substantial Natural Variability

Earth's climate varies naturally on a wide range of timescales, from seasonal variations (such as a particularly wet spring, hot summer, or snowy winter) to geological timescales of millions or even billions of years. Careful statistical analyses have demonstrated that it is very unlikely6 that natural variations in the climate system could have given rise to the observed global warming, especially over the last several decades. However, natural processes produce substantial seasonal,...

Advancing the Science of Climate Change

America's Climate Choices Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate Division on Earth and Life Studies NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS Washington, D.C. www.nap.edu THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS 500 Fifth Street, N.W. Washington, DC 20001 NOTICE The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy...

Energy Consumption

Globally, total energy consumption grew from 4,675 to 8,286 million tons of oil equivalent between 1973 and 2007 (IEA, 2009). The United States is still the world's largest consumer of energy, responsible for 20 percent of world primary energy consumption. The next largest user, China, currently accounts for about 15 percent. Energy consumption in the United States has increased by about 1 percent per year since 1970, although there is no longer a direct relationship between energy use and...

Adapting to Climate Change in Cities

Cities face all the challenges that any other sector encounters in regard to adaptation, but research on urban adaptation has only recently begun in earnest. Attention to date has focused on infrastructure and strategies such as emergency preparedness and response. In addition, where resource stresses have already mounted, such as water shortages in the American West, local and regional entities have begun planning to address their vulnerability to climate change in the context of specific...

Theme 2 Climaterelated Human Behaviors And Institutions

Knowledge gained from research involving physical, chemical, and ecological processes has been critical for establishing that climate change poses sufficiently serious risks to justify careful consideration and evaluation of alternative responses. Emerging concerns about how best to respond to climate change also bring to the fore questions about human interactions with the climate system how human activities drive climate change how people understand, decide, and act in the climate context how...

Examining Complex and Interacting Policies

While many policy analyses, such as benefit-cost, assume rather generic policy instruments (e.g., a single tax on GHG emissions or a single cap-and-trade policy that applies to all fossil fuel consumption in the nation uniformly), actual policies are much more complex. They also interact with other climate and nonclimate policies at different scales and jurisdictions and their institutional design and implementation critically shapes their effectiveness (Young, 2002a). Previous National...

Ecosystems Ecosystem Services and Biodiversity

Errestrial and marine ecosystems supply the foundation for human well-being and livelihood through the food, water, timber, and other goods and services they provide. Advances over past decades have also revealed the importance of less visible but equally important services that ecosystems provide for society, such as water filtration, carbon storage, maintenance of biodiversity, protection from storm disturbance, and stabilization of local climates. Climate change has already led to a number...

Water Quality

Changes in the water temperature of lakes and rivers have consequences for freshwater quality (Bates and Kundzewicz, 2008). Increased temperatures generally have a negative impact on water quality, typically by stimulating growth of nuisance algae. Changes in heavy precipitation, runoff, and stream flow can impact a diverse set of water quality variables (Kundzewicz et al., 2007). Water quality will also be negatively affected by saline intrusion into coastal aquifers as sea levels rise...

Research to Support Effective Responses to Climate Change

Vulnerability and Adaptation Analyses of Coupled Human-Environment Systems. Some examples include developing methods and indicators for assessing vulnerability2 and developing and assessing integrative management ap 2 Vulnerability is the degree to which a system is susceptible to, or unable to cope with, adverse effects of climate change, including changes in climate variability and extremes. Vulnerability is a function of the character, magnitude, and rate of climate variation to which a...

V

In the President's 2011 budget to support a 2013 launch of Jason-3, a joint effort between NOAA and EUMETSAT (the European meteorological satellite program), as part of a transition of satellite altimetry from research to operational status. Researchers hope to avoid a gap in the satellite record because measurements from tide gauges and other satellite measurements would not be sufficient to accurately determine the bias between the two time series on either side of the gap. It should also be...

Challenges Posed by the New Era of Climate Change Research

The broad, interdisciplinary, and integrated research enterprise envisioned in this report presents a number of implementation challenges. Among others, it requires scientists to work together in ways that are not well supported by many existing institutional structures, such as discipline-specific academic departments. It also requires researchers to engage with decision makers and other stakeholders to identify research topics and develop mechanisms for transferring research results,...

Observations of Human Systems

Other sections of this chapter highlight the importance of social science research in understanding the causes, consequences, and opportunities to respond to climate change. As with research on the physical and biological components of the climate system, this research depends on the availability of high-quality, long-term, and readily accessible observations of human systems, not only in the United States but also in areas of the world with relevant U.S. interests. Census data, economic...

Role Of Transportation In Driving Climate Change

A large proportion of GHG emissions can be attributed to transportation, specifically from the burning of gasoline, diesel, and other fuels derived from petroleum. In fact, the transportation sector is responsible for 70 percent of U.S. petroleum use, which exceeds the percentage of oil that is imported (Davis et al., 2008). Reducing transportation's dependence on petroleum, much of it imported from politically unstable regions of the world, is one of the most direct connections between the...

Evaluate the climate feedbacks from changes in ecosystems and biodiversity

Changes in ecosystem biogeochemical processes (including GHG emissions) and biodiversity (including changes in reflectance characteristics) have the potential to exacerbate or offset certain aspects of climate change (i.e., act as feedbacks). Models and experiments that integrate knowledge about ecosystem processes, plant physiol- Ocean ecosystems face growing threats globally from overfishing, habitat damage, pollution, and especially acidification (Halpern et al., 2008). As a result, the...

Responding To Climate Risks

Based on current scientific understanding of ongoing and projected future changes in climate, and the risks associated with these changes, many decisions makers are now taking or planning actions to limit the magnitude of climate change, to adapt to ongoing and anticipated changes, and to include climate considerations in their decision-making processes. These actions are detailed in the three companion reports to this study (NRC, 2010a-c). For example, in Informing an Effective Response to...

Energy Sources That Reduce Emissions Of Greenhouse Gases

Technologies that reduce the amount of GHGs emitted during the production of usable energy include renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, bioenergy, geo-thermal, hydropower, as well as nuclear power and carbon capture and storage (CCS) applied to fossil fuels or biomass. Even switching among fossil fuels can reduce carbon emissions per unit of energy produced. The America's Energy Future study (NRC, 2009d) evaluated the near- and intermediate-term potential of each of these technologies...

Science To Support Adapting To Climate Change

Options to adapt to the impacts of climate change in cities and built-up areas encompass a wide array of potential actions. To date, most of the options considered have fallen into the category of structural or engineering strategies such as protecting existing development and infrastructure from sea level rise (e.g., NYCDEP, 2008) improving water supply, drainage, and water treatment infrastructure and reducing urban heat island effects. In some cases, local and regional entities sharing a...

Crop Production

Crop production will be influenced in multiple ways by climate change itself, as well as by our efforts to limit the magnitude of climate change and adapt to it. Over the past two decades, numerous experimental studies have been carried out on crop responses to increases in average temperature and atmospheric CO2 concentrations (often referred to as carbon fertilization), and mathematical models depicting those relationships (singly or in combination) have been developed for individual crops....

Equity and Distributional Issues

Climate change is a quintessential equity problem since those who have been historically least responsible for causing it will be disproportionally negatively affected by it (Adger et al., 2006 Baer et al., 2000 O'Brien and Leichenko, 2003 Roberts and Parks, 2007 World Bank, 2009). There are usually three main sources of inequality shaping climate policy dialogues historical responsibility for the problem, who will likely bear the brunt of its negative impacts, and who will be responsible to...

Institutions and Decision Making

The 20th century saw immense social and cultural changes, many of which such as changes in living patterns and automobile use have had major implications for climate change. Many societal and cultural changes can be traced to the confluence of individual and organizational decision making, which is shaped by institutions that reward some actions and sanction others, and by technologies. New institutions, such as GHG emissions trading systems, voluntary certification systems for energy-efficient...

Solar Radiation Management

For over 45 years, proposals for deliberate, large-scale manipulation of Earth's environment or geoengineering (see Box 15.1 and Figure 15.1 ) have been put forward as ways to potentially offset some of the consequences of climate change. For example, whitening clouds, injecting particles into the stratosphere, or putting sunshades in space could increase Earth's reflectivity, thereby reducing incoming solar radiation and offsetting some of the warming associated with increasing GHG...

Ecosystem Function and Ecosystem Services Models

Dynamic models of ecosystem processes and services translate what is known about biophysical functions of ecosystems and landscapes or water systems into information about the provision of goods and services that are important to society (Daily and Matson, 2008). Such models are critical in allowing particular land, freshwater, or ocean use decisions to be evaluated in terms of resulting values to decision makers and society for evaluating the effects of specific policies on the provision of...

Environmentally Significant Consumption

Decisions about consumption at the individual, household, community, business, and national levels have a profound effect on GHG emissions. For example, voluntary consumer choices to increase the efficiency of household energy use could reduce total U.S. GHG emissions by over 7 percent if supportive policies were in place (Dietz et al., 2009b). Consumer choices also influence important aspects of vulnerability and adaptation for example, increasing demand for meat in human diets places stresses...

Next Steps for the USGCRP

A careful reading of the Global Change Research Act indicates that the legislation provides most of the necessary authority for implementing a strategically integrated climate change research program (see Appendix E). The act envisions a program that covers the full spectrum of activities from understanding climate change and its interactions with other global changes and stresses through developing and improving responses to these changes. The act also mandates research that is closely aligned...

Foreword About Americas Climate Choices

Onvened by the National Research Council in response to a request from Congress (P.L. 110-161), America's Climate Choices is a suite of five coordinated activities designed to study the serious and sweeping issues associated with global climate change, including the science and technology challenges involved, and to provide advice on the most effective steps and most promising strategies that can be taken to respond. The Committee on America's Climate Choices is responsible for providing...

Projections Of Future Sea Level Rise

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimated that sea level would rise by an additional 0.6 to 1.9 feet (0.18 to 0.59 meters) by 2100 (Meehl et al., 2007a). However, this projection was based only on current rates of change and was accompanied by a major caveat regarding the potential for substantial increases in the rate of sea level rise. The 2007 IPCC projections are conservative and may underestimate future sea level rise because they do not include one of the two major...

National and Human Security

Over the past three decades, a number of concerns have emerged about potential interactions between global environmental change and security. Changes in temperature, sea level, precipitation patterns, and other aspects of the climate system can add substantial stresses to infrastructure and especially to the food, water, energy, and ecosystem resources that societies require. Several recent reports have argued that responding to climate change is a critical part of the U.S. national security...

Space Based Platforms

Our understanding of the climate system and other important human and environmental systems has benefitted significantly through the use of satellite observations over the past 30 years (NRC, 2008c). For example, data from the Earth Observing System (EOS) series of satellites deployed in the late 1990s and early 2000s provide critical input into process and climate models that have provided key insights into Artic sea ice decline, sea level rise, changes in freshwater systems, ozone changes...

Ex Officio Members

MEEHL, National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado NRC Staff CHRIS ELFRING, Director LAURIE GELLER, Senior Program Officer IAN KRAUCUNAS, Senior Program Officer MARTHA MCCONNELL, Program Officer MAGGIE WALSER, Associate Program Officer TOBY WARDEN, Associate Program Officer JOSEPH CASOLA, Postdoctoral Fellow RITA GASKINS, Administrative Coordinator KATIE WELLER, Research Associate LAUREN M. BROWN, Research Assistant ROB GREENWAY, Program Associate SHELLY FREELAND,...

Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change Biographical Sketches

Matson (Chair) (NAS) is the Chester Naramore Dean of Stanford University's School of Earth Sciences. She is also the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies, a senior fellow of the Woods Institute for Environment, and coleader of Stanford's Initiative on Environment and Sustainability. Her research focuses on biogeochemical cycling and land-water interactions in tropical forests and agricultural systems, and on sustainability science. Together with hydrologists,...

Summary

Science has made enormous inroads in understanding climate change and its causes, and is beginning to help develop a strong understanding of current and potential impacts that will affect people today and in coming decades. This understanding is crucial because it allows decision makers to place climate change in the context of other large challenges facing the nation and the world. There are still some uncertainties, and there always will be in understanding a complex system like Earth's...

Facilitating Adoption of Technologies

There are a number of barriers to the adoption of technologies that could potentially reduce GHG emissions. For example, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) recently suspended Energy Star certification for programmable thermostats because it was unable to show that they save energy in actual use (EPA, 2009a). Similar difficulties could be in store for smart meters, which are promoted as devices that will allow households to manage energy use to save money and reduce emissions, but which...

Air Quality

Many constituents of the atmosphere that impact public health also play a significant role in influencing climate. Of concern are aerosols, including black carbon, organic carbon, and sulfates. As discussed in Chapter 6, aerosols can have a net cooling effect on climate if they increase the Earth's reflectivity, such as inorganic carbon released during biomass burning, or a net warming effect if they absorb outgoing infrared radi ation, such as the black carbon released during incomplete...

Comprehensive and Integrated Climate Observing System Should Be Developed Built and Maintained by the Federal Program

The climate observing system should be able to monitor a broad spectrum of changes, including changes in the physical climate system (such as sea level rise, sea ice declines, and soil moisture changes) changes in related biological systems (such as species shifts and changes in crop yield or the amount of carbon stored in forests) the impacts of these changes on human systems (including human health and economic impacts) trends in human systems (such as human population and consumption changes...

History Of Solar Radiation Management Proposals

In November of 1965, the Environmental Pollution Panel of the President's Science Advisory Council (PSAC) for the first time informed a president of the United States about the threats posed by increasing atmospheric CO2 concentrations. Their report stated The climatic changes that may be produced by the increased CO2 content could be deleterious from the point of view of human beings. The possibilities of bringing about countervailing climatic changes therefore need to be thoroughly explored....

Processes that Induce or Constrain Innovation

The adoption of new technology is yet another area in which institutions, organizations, and networks have an important influence on decision making. New and improved technologies will be needed to meet the challenges of limiting climate change and adapting to its impacts (NRC, 2010a,c). However, the mere existence of a new technology with desirable properties is not sufficient to ensure its use. For example, individuals and organizations are currently far less energy efficient than is...

Preface

The Panel on Advancing the Science of Climate Change is one of four panels convened under the America's Climate Choices suite of activities, which is collectively responsible for providing advice on the most effective steps and most promising strategies that the nation can take to respond to climate change (see Foreword). Our charge was to provide a concise overview of past, present, and future climate change, including its causes and its impacts, and to recommend steps to advance our current...

Monitoring Compliance with Treaties Intended to Reduce Climate Change

Research has shown that improving the effectiveness of international agreements will require a variety of mechanisms to verify compliance (Mitchell, 2003 Winkler, 2008 see also Chapter 16). Scholarship in this area has pointed out many of the constraints to monitoring and implementation, including establishing baselines, measuring GHGs, documenting additionality (that is, what countries and other actors are doing in addition to what would have been implemented in the absence of climate...