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International Research and Cooperation System
HIGHLIGHTS OF PLANS FOR FY 2009
Arctic Observing Network. The Arctic is experiencing unprecedented system-wide change; change that has few equals elsewhere on Earth. This change has global implications and continued changes will have significant regional and global environmental and societal consequences. The dramatic recession of Arctic sea ice cover that took place in summer 2007 is one example illustrating the enormous scale of recent Arctic change, but the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, released in 2005, highlights potential impacts of changes in the sea ice cover as well as many other environmental parameters (see http://www.eol.ucar.edu/ projects/aon-cadis and http://www.acia. uaf.edu). Monitoring polar climate and understanding its feedbacks are key priorities described in the CCSP Strategic Plan.
A recent National Research Council (NRC) report, Towards an Integrated Arctic Observing Network, concluded that current Arctic observing systems are not capable of characterizing the change that is now in motion and they do not provide the data necessary to enable scientific synthesis and modeling studies that are essential for better understanding the regional and global causes and consequences of Arctic change. CCSP supports creation of a comprehensive Arctic Observing Network (AON). NSF along with the twelve other Federal agencies that make up the Interagency Arctic Research Policy Committee (IARPC) are engaged in a wide range of Arctic-observing activities. Together they are implementing an interagency activity entitled the Study of Environmental Arctic Change (SEARCH; see <arcus.org/search>) to better understand climate change as identified in the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment. AON is also being put forth as a U.S. contribution to a multi-nation, pan-Arctic observing network. It will represent a lasting legacy of the International Polar Year (IPY) and will contribute to broader international goals surrounding the establishment of GEOSS and the Global Ocean Observation System (GOOS).
Aviation-Climate Change Research Initiative. Based on the 2008 composite report, model simulations and analyses will be performed to quantify climate impacts of aviation. A multi-model and multi-team approach will be adopted to support this activity. Long-term research activities will be implemented as needed during 2009 and beyond. These research activities will address key information gaps and make practical use of improved scientific knowledge and modeling capability to help characterize and mitigate aviation’s climate impact.
African Network on Earth System Science. Since its inception in 2005, AfricanNESS has developed a science plan that will serve as a roadmap for sustained regional global environmental change research in Africa. AfricanNESS, with the ICSU Regional Office for Africa and facilitated by IGBP, released a merged science plan in 2008. The merging of these science plans is the result of several years of parallel effort and significant community participation. It is hoped that the merged science plan will be widely accepted and implemented. Many challenges remain, but in those challenges lie significant opportunities to advance science globally. One is finding ways to rebalance and develop research capacity. The science plan focused on four crosscutting areas: food and nutritional security, water resources, health, and ecosystem integrity. A significant number of global environmental change researchers currently in Africa could contribute to AfricaNESS projects.
Atlantic Interoperability Initiative for Reducing Emissions. The Atlantic Interoperability Initiative for Reducing Emissions (AIRE) partnership is a collaboration of the European Commission, FAA, airlines, and aviation industry partners working together to speed development and implementation of environmentally friendly new technologies and operational procedures that reduce engine exhaust emissions and associated noise. Approximately 2 to 3% of overall global greenhouse gas emissions can be attributed to aviation; expected traffic growth may increase this contribution. To counter this effect, AIRE will demonstrate maturing air traffic control infrastructure technologies that will reduce release of aircraft engine exhaust emissions through improved system efficiency and/or operations. These technologies are being demonstrated for each unique segment of flight operations: ground/surface taxi movements, oceanic (en route) cruise, and arrival landing operations. The overall objective is to enhance surface movement operational efficiency, save fuel, and reduce engine exhaust emissions and associated noise for international flight operations using the system advances identified. Collaborative demonstration flights should begin in FY 2009.
DIVERSITAS. DIVERSITAS will continue to advance international biodiversity science through cooperation with U.S. agencies and international organizations, and contributions to international conventions. DIVERSITAS expects to continue to work with NASA as the lead for the biodiversity task of GEOSS that involves development of a science plan and implementation strategy for a global biodiversity observing system. It is expected that once this plan is completed near the end of 2008, attention will be turned to implementation of the observing system. DIVERSITAS will continue its collaboration with the Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In the margins of the CBD 9th Conference of the Parties (COP9). DIVERSITAS, together with the International Union of Biological Science (IUBS) and the German government, organized a 3-day scientific conference, leading to a formal declaration to COP9 delegates (Bonn, May 2008). The second DIVERSITAS Open Science Conference is scheduled for 13 to 16 October 2009, in Cape Town, South Africa.
Earth System Science Partnership. A review of ESSP was recently commissioned by ICSU and IGFA at the request of its partner programs. Given that the program is still relatively new and has undergone substantive recent changes, the review focuses on providing strategic advice as to options for its future development. The report will be released in 2008. ESSP expects to continue to implement its core projects on carbon, waters, health, and food; continue implementation of the Monsoon Asia Regional Study; and to develop and release a business plan. The Scientific Committee will also have an increasing role in development of the overall program, including realization of its mission and goals.
ESSP agreed to convene a regular series of seminars at each SBSTA meeting. The topics of the seminars would be developed collaboratively between ESSP, SBSTA, and the UNFCCC Parties. The seminars would be followed by a discussion session in which the Parties and the research community would have an opportunity for dialog. All agreed that IPCC should remain the primary assessment mechanism for UNFCCC, but these seminars would be an effective way to facilitate regular information exchange between the Parties and the research community. In addition to the meeting, ESSP (spearheaded by WCRP) organized a side event entitled “Connecting Earth System Science Research to Climate Change Policy.” The side event featured four seminars on different aspects of climate change research and connections to society.
Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research. The Minister of the Environment of the Dominican Republic will host an IAI Strategic Planning session in 2008 to chart out the Institute’s next decade, and preliminary drafting sessions are underway with input from the Member Countries and the IAI’s Scientific Advisory Committee. Together with APN, IAI will meet with the Chair of SBSTA to facilitate dialog between the international research programs and the UNFCCC Parties. IAI, together with IGBP and ICSU, are also consulting with the Amazon Treaty Organization (OTCA) on a similar issue for the Amazon Basin.
IAI is in the midst of planning a second IAI-NCAR Colloquium for the second half of 2008 on “Seasonality and Water Resources in the Western Hemisphere,” to be held in Mendoza, Argentina. The IAI’s successful Training Institutes series continue with intensive sessions on Information Management (Panama, February 2008), Adaptation Risks (side event to Central American Presidential Summit, Honduras, May 2008), Semi-Arid Water Management (Brazil, October 2008), and Urban Responses to Climate Change (Chile, spring 2009).
Discussions with the United Kingdom’s Department for International Development (DFID) will continue on water and health projects, and may be linked with the IAI-IDRC project to consolidate findings from several IAI research networks and develop new plans linked to national priorities for science and capacity building for climate change and adaptation.
IAI will continue discussions with the IGFA agencies on strategies to stably fund relevant international global change programs and avoid ‘double-dipping’ when these programs apply for funds from both the IGFA agencies and the regional institutes funded by the same agencies.
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. IGBP held its Fourth Congress, “Sustainable Livelihoods in a Changing Earth System,” in Cape Town, South Africa, 5-9 May 2008. Anticipated participants include the Steering Committee, the Scientific Steering Committees, National Committees, partners, and African stakeholders. The meeting had many objectives but was primarily aimed at improving linkages, communication, and integration across all IGBP efforts. The meeting also explored the connections between environmental change and development on a regional basis in Africa.
It is expected that a review of the IGBP, concurrent with that of the WCRP, cosponsored by ICSU and IGFA, will begin in the FY 2009 time frame.
International Human Dimensions Programme. IHDP is currently undergoing a synthesis effort for its Industrial Transformation (IT) and Global Environmental Change and Human Security (GECHS) projects. The program has applied new cross-cutting themes including vulnerability, resilience and adaptation, governments and institutions, social learning and knowledge, and thresholds and transitions. At the same time, IHDP has also applied a new focus on methodologies that will cut across all of its core projects. The program will focus on enhancing statistical methods, improving simulations, incorporating case studies and narratives, and applying systems analysis, as well as configuration and comparative analysis. Overall, IHDP will emphasize more involvement with international assessments including IPCC and enhancing linkages with major social science research themes and communities.
Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative. The Northern Eurasia Earth Science Partnership Initiative (NEESPI) is an External Project of the IGBP (see <neespi.org>). It is a multidisciplinary program of internationally supported Earth systems science research focusing on issues in northern Eurasia relevant to regional and global scientific and decisionmaking communities. Northern Eurasia is undergoing significant changes associated with a rapidly warming climate in this region and with important changes in governmental structures since the early 1990s and their associated influences on land use and the environment across this broad expanse of the Earth. The NEESPI research strategy intends to capitalize on a variety of remote-sensing and other tools. NEESPI will implement a general modeling framework that links socioeconomic factors with models such as crop, pollution, land use, ecosystem, and climate with observational data to address the key research questions within northern Eurasia:
Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study. The Monsoon Asia Integrated Regional Study (MAIRS) is an Integrated Regional Study project under ESSP that includes IGBP, IHDP, WCRP, and DIVERSITAS components. The region of monsoon Asia covers South, Southeast, and East Asia. With the highest population density of any comparable region of the world, this region has experienced one of the most rapid environmental changes in the past decade and is likely to undergo further rapid economic development in the coming years. Human activities in the monsoon Asia region significantly affect environmental conditions, both regionally and globally.
The goal of MAIRS is to better understand how human activities in the region are interacting with and altering the natural variability of atmospheric, terrestrial, and marine components of the monsoon system; to contribute to the provision of a sound scientific basis for sustainable development in monsoon Asia; and to develop a predictive capability for estimating changes in global-regional linkages in the Earth system and to project the consequences of such changes.
NASA has provided support for the MAIRS program by soliciting proposals studying the regions within the MAIRS domain and by supporting MAIRS logistics. A NASAMAIRS joint meeting is planned for the fall of 2008.
Polar Earth Observing Network. The Polar Earth Observing Network (POLENET) will provide ground-based seismic and Global Positioning System (GPS) observing networks in Antarctica and a GPS network in Greenland (see <polenet.org>). POLENET is designed to directly measure solid earth phenomena needed to eliminate sources of uncertainty in satellite-derived measurements and models. The observing network is intended to serve as a lasting legacy of IPY and will contribute significantly to ongoing assessments of climate change. It also contributes to broader international goals surrounding the establishment of GEOSS.
SysTem for Analysis, Research, and Training. In 2008 and beyond, START will continue its collaboration with its co-sponsors on its Advancing Capacity to Support Climate Change Adaptation (ACCCA) program. Fourteen projects have been funded and are underway. Five additional projects are under review. START will also continue its new African Climate Change Fellowship program, sponsored by the IDRC’s Climate Change Adaptation in Africa program. START is also developing many collaborations with organizations such as the Stockholm Environment Institute, APN and IAI, IHDP, and IGBP at its upcoming Congress in South Africa.
World Climate Research Programme. WCRP, as decided by the Joint Scientific Committee, has as its highest priority the implementation of its cross-cutting activities. These activities include study of monsoons, anthropogenic climate change, atmospheric chemistry and climate, sea-level rise, decadal climate predictability, and IPY. WCRP has also welcomed a new director who started in the beginning of 2008. It is expected that a review of the program, co-sponsored by ICSU and IGFA, will begin in the FY 2009 time frame.