U.S. Global Change Research Program

Created: 12/17/2010 - Updated: 11/24/2021

Summary

The U.S. Global Change Research Program’s mission is “to build a knowledge base that informs human responses to climate and global change through coordinated and integrated federal programs of research, education, communication, and decision support.” The Program produces assessments of climate change and its implications, connects producers and users of the National Climate Assessment, and provides educational materials to support climate literacy and educational development.

Background

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established with the passage of the Global Change Research Act in 1990. The USGCRP is charged with coordinating scientific research within the Federal Government on global change and its potential implications for natural environments and communities. Federal departments and agencies that participate in the USGCRP include:

  • Department of Agriculture
  • Department of Commerce  
  • Department of Defense
  • Department of Energy
  • Department of Health and Human Services
  • Department of the Interior
  • Department of State
  • Department of Transportation
  • Environmental Protection Agency
  • National Aeronautics and Space Administration
  • National Science Foundation
  • Smithsonian Institution
  • Agency for International Development

Members from each of the aforementioned departments and agencies are on the Subcommittee on Global Change Research within the National Science and Technology Council.

Implementation

Among the main activities of the USGCRP are the provisioning of assessment and educational materials for use by the public and private sectors.

Assessments
As part of its mandate, the USGCRP produces global change impacts assessments every four years. The first—National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change in the United States—was completed in 2000. The most recent—Fourth National Climate Assessment—was released over two volumes in 2017 and 2018. These assessments include impacts by geographic region and economic sectors, along with potential adaptation responses and case studies where available. As part of this effort, the USGCRP created NCAnet, a network of over 225 organizations and agencies that serve as both users and producers of information for the National Climate Assessment.

The USGCRP maintains the Indicator Platform, which aggregates climate-related indicators from federally-supported, peer-reviewed data sources that track how conditions are changing and may inform management efforts. Example indicators include sea surface temperatures, terrestrial carbon storage, sea level rise, ocean chlorophyll concentrations, and Arctic sea ice extent.

In addition, the USGCRP (formerly the U.S. Climate Change Science Program) led the production of 21 Synthesis and Assessment Products (SAPs), released between 2004 and 2009, concerning climate trends, impacts, and management options. The SAPs concerned with climate change adaptation include:

  • SAP 4.1 – Coastal Sensitivity to Sea‐Level Rise: A Focus on the Mid‐Atlantic Region
  • SAP 4.2 – Thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems
  • SAP 4.3 – The Effects of Climate Change on Agriculture, Land Resources, Water Resources and Biodiversity
  • SAP 4.4 – Preliminary Review of Adaptation Options for Climate‐Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources
  • SAP 4.5 – Effects of Climate Change on Energy Production and Use in the United States
  • SAP 4.6 – Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems
  • SAP 4.7 – Impacts of Climate Variability and Change on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure

Educational Materials
The USGCRP created the Climate Change, Wildlife, and Wildlands Toolkit for Formal and Informal Educators in order to aid educators in communicating how climate change will affect the environment and how people can become “climate stewards.” The 2009 version of the Toolkit contains background information on climate change science, a video on projected climate impacts on wildlife and habitats, and 11 case studies in eco-regions throughout the U.S. containing regional impacts and adaptation strategies. The eco-regions include: Western Forests and Mountains, Western Coastline, Eastern Coastline, Gulf Coast, Pacific Islands, Caribbean, Great Lakes, Eastern Forests and Woodlands, Polar/Subpolar, Desert Arid, and Prairie Grasslands.

The USGCRP also released a guide called Climate Literacy: The Essential Principles of Climate Science, which contains details on climate change science and impacts and mitigation and adaptation strategies. The guide was developed through collaboration between federal agencies and non-governmental organizations.

Outcomes and Conclusions

The USGCRP is mandated to coordinate federal research on climate change and to assess global change in national assessments; the fifth National Climate Assessment is in development. In addition, the USGCRP participates in international collaborative efforts such as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change assessments, the World Climate Research Programme, and the Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research.

Status

Information collected through publications. Last updated 10/21.

Citation

Gregg, R. M. (2021). U.S. Global Change Research Program [Case study on a project of the U.S. Global Change Research Program]. Version 2.0. Product of EcoAdapt’s State of Adaptation Program. Retrieved from CAKE: https://www.cakex.org/case-studies/us-global-change-research-program (Last updated October 2021)

Project Documents

Global Climate Change Impacts in the U.S. (2009) .pdf Climate Change Impacts on the United States- The Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change.pdf Pew Center on Global Climate Change, Climate Change Adaptation- What Federal Agencies are Doing .pdf

Project Contact(s)

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates federal research on changes in the global environment and their implications for society. The USGCRP began as a presidential initiative in 1989 and was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L.

Keywords

Scale of Project
Multilateral / Transboundary
National / Federal
Regional / Subnational
Sector Addressed
Agriculture
Aquaculture
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Fisheries
Forestry
Land Use Planning
Policy
Public Health
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Air temperature
Biodiversity
Culture / communities
Diseases or parasites
Economics
Erosion
Fire
Fishery harvest
Flooding
Flow patterns
Growing season
Habitat extent
Infrastructure damage
Invasive / non-native species, pests
Lake level
Landslides
Ocean acidification
Oxygen concentrations (hypoxia)
Permafrost
Phenological shifts
Precipitation
Public health risks
Public safety threats
Range shifts
Salinization / Saltwater intrusion
Sea level rise
Snowpack
Species of concern
Storms or extreme weather events
Tourism
Water quality
Water supply
Water temperature
Climate Type
Temperate
Tropical
Subtropical
Polar
Subpolar
Timeframe
Ongoing
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Increase organizational capacity
Coordinate planning and management
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Conduct vulnerability assessments and studies
Effort Stage
In progress

Related Resources

Adaptation Phase
Planning
Sector Addressed
Agriculture
Aquaculture
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Energy
Fisheries
Forestry
Land Use Planning
Policy
Public Health
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
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Adaptation Phase
Awareness
Assessment
Planning
Implementation
Integration/Mainstream
Evaluation
Sharing Lessons
Sector Addressed
Biodiversity
Climate Justice
Conservation / Restoration
Culture/communities
Disaster Risk Management
Education / Outreach
Fisheries
Land Use Planning
Policy
Research
Rural / Indigenous Livelihoods
Transportation / Infrastructure
Water Resources
Wildlife
Read more