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Updated 16 September 2008
International Research and Cooperation
USGCRP Cross-cutting Activity


Recent Accomplishments

Near-Term Plans

Related Sites

CCSP / USGCRP International Working Group Members

For long term plans, see International Research & Cooperation chapter of the Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program (2003) posted on CCSP web site.

Sichuan Aster LULCC imageCCSP, through its working groups including the Interagency Working Group on International Research and Cooperation, participates in and provides input to major international scientific and related organizations on behalf of the U.S. Government and scientific community. CCSP also provides support to maintain the central infrastructure of several international research programs and international activities that complement CCSP and U.S. Government goals in climate science.

Global change research, modeling, and observations from institutions based in the United States contribute to and benefit from a number of ongoing international activities. CCSP, the individual agencies that comprise CCSP, its various interagency working groups, and, in particular, the Interagency Working Group on International Research and Cooperation participate in and provide support for a variety of international research activities that collectively cover the broad spectrum of global environmental change research.

Through such active participation and leadership, CCSP and the large community of U.S. scientists supported by or associated with it truly has a global reach. Activities in which the United States is involved include supporting global environmental change research programs including, but not limited to, those that operate under the aegis of the International Council for Science (ICSU); supporting international assessments, particularly the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC); supporting regional global change research networks; playing an active role in informal international organizations that are involved with the advancement of global environmental change research; and participating in and in many cases leading international efforts to advance coordination and cooperation around observation of the Earth.

Individual CCSP agencies support international activities that are aligned with their goals or missions. In some cases, an agency will be given the lead for a particular effort for the Federal government; this may involve intra- and/or interagency coordination as well as funding, including in-kind support, depending upon the organization. CCSP is also a vehicle for communication and coordination, both within the Federal government and with the broader scientific community, of global change-related information and input to various international organizations. This support includes work with the Department of State at a variety of levels, but particularly with respect to the IPCC and the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) as well as bilateral arrangements in climate change science and technology.

The United States, through CCSP, also participates actively in informal activities that are dedicated to coordinating and fostering international global environmental change research. One such organization is the International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA). IGFA serves as a direct link to the international global change research programs and serves as a way for representatives from CCSP to interact informally with representatives from other countries who have as their responsibility funding of global change research.

CCSP provides the core of the U.S. portion of funding for coordination of international global change research. This includes support for IPCC Working Group I U.S.-hosted Technical Support Unit, which will have completed its work as of 1 September 2008. The Department of State is currently involved in international deliberations regarding selection of host nations for the Working Groups comprising the Fifth Assessment Report. CCSP support is also provided to the partner programs of the Earth System Science Partnership (ESSP) including the SyTem for Analysis, Research, and Training (START). The National Science Foundation on behalf of CCSP manages U.S. support for regional global change research networks, including the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research (IAI), the Asia-Pacific Network (APN), and the African Network for Earth System Science (AfricanNESS).

The international global change research programs continue to provide sound frameworks for core research projects, capacity building programs, and regional networks. These programs include the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP), the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), the International Human Dimensions Programme (IHDP), DIVERSITAS (an international biodiversity science program), ESSP, and START. The key regional programs are APN, IAI, AfricanNESS, and several regional programs under the START umbrella (Southeast Asia Regional Centre, Temperate East Asia Regional Committee, etc.). These regional programs, due to their ability to bring together national networks of global change scientists in an international setting, are increasingly being called upon to provide input to international organizations, international assessments, and other activities.

These programs are also highly effective at developing linkages between national networks of scientists, between disciplines, and developing capacity in young scientists and scientists from developing countries. One of the means they utilize is extensive in person Open Science Conferences (OSCs), congresses, workshops, and other activities.

OSCs bring together the wider science community focused on a specific topic, program, or programs to encourage dialog, connections, communication, and cooperation. They also assist in charting the course for the overarching efforts of the organizing program(s).

Congresses bring together the intellectual leadership of these programs including scientific committees, national committees for core projects of individual programs, and the staff and leaders of the central secretariats. These meetings encourage high-level dialog among the leaders of the programs, encourage development of interdisciplinary/inter-project cooperation, and help these organizations coherently implement their overall strategies.

Workshops cover a wide spectrum of activities. They may be large-scale, such as the START Young Scientists Meeting that took place prior to the ESSP OSC in 2006. They may also be smaller, focused meetings, such as the 2005 AfricanNESS Workshop, in which a pan-African group convened to begin to develop an overall framework and agenda for regional global environmental change cooperation in Africa. They also include activities focused on closely related topics such as the 2007 meeting of IPCC authors and climate experts organized by the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS), WCRP, and IGBP to discuss gaps and research needs based on analysis of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report.

The programs assign a high priority to developing scientific capacity both in terms of young scientists and in terms of involving and fostering scientists from less-developed countries. The programs themselves, particularly through IAI and START, fund young scientist meetings and advanced training institutes all over the world. This involves bringing scientists from less-developed countries to some of the best facilities in the world and bringing top-tier global environmental change scientists to meetings and workshops throughout the developed and less-developed world. The programs, by convening many of their meetings in less-developed countries, are also developing capacity across the spectrum in those countries. While many programs are working to take advantage of the ever-increasing access to broadband communications (including e-mail, video conferencing, podcasts, social networking, etc.) the importance of in person interactions such as those described above cannot be overemphasized.

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The CCSP Interagency Working Group on International Research and Cooperation facilitates the centralized operations of and U.S. participation in the international global change research programs by serving as a channel through which “glue money” is provided to these programs. The glue money provided by CCSP and individual agencies facilitates leadership by U.S. scientists in these organizations and advances overall U.S. global change research, modeling, and observations. The U.S. funding leverages substantial funding of these programs by other countries (that in most cases is of the order of two or three times the funding provided by the United States).

The following sections describe highlights of recent activities as well as future plans of these international global change research programs and of related interagency international efforts. For more detailed information about some of these activities, see Chapter 15 of the Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program.

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