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Mr. ROHRABACHER. That was very interesting, that last observation or analysis was especially interesting.
STATEMENT OF ROBERT W. CORELL, PH.D., ASSISTANT DIRECTOR FOR GEOSCIENCES, NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION; AND CHAIRMAN, SUBCOMMITTEE ON GLOBAL CHANGE RESEARCH
Mr. CORELL. Mr. Chairman and Members of the Subcommittee, it is a pleasure for me to be here today and I thank you for that opportunity.
It is my honor to be here to testify on behalf of the Departments and Agencies that support and implement the U.S. Global Change Program.
While this panel is focusing on impacts, my responsibility I think here today is to talk about the research strategies that lie behind our modelling efforts and the research strategies that help us support our studies of impacts.
I have two things I would like to do, in summary.
One is to paint an overall picture of the strategy that underpins the global change program, and secondly to make some summary comments drawn from Panel One on the issue of modelling.
The U.S. Global Change Program is comprised of activities in 15 federal research agencies that support scientific research, as well as the planning and oversight activities that reside in the Executive Office of the President.
Together we plan, integrate, coordinate, and implement the programs and activities that comprise the U.S. Global Change Pro
We do that because it brings the unique capabilities of each of these agencies in an interlocked manner to give a holistic program of research addressing global change issues.
The program was established actually by President Reagan and forwarded to the Congress as a Presidential initiative in the budget for 1990.
It was formalized by the Congress through Public Law 101-606, the Global Change Research Act. It is within that framework that the program operates.
It is designed by law to provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated U.S. research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.
It further defines the scope fairly broadly to changes in the global environment, including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans and other water resources, atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems that may alter the capacity of the earth to sustain life. That is a very broad charge.
We take that seriously. To get some sense of priority, we have constrained our activities to five topical areas addressing seasonal to interannual climate fluctuations such as those resolving around El Nijo.
Secondly, to address the climate change issue that occurs over time scales of a few decades.
Thirdly, to deal with the stratospheric ozone issue, its depletion, and increased UVV radiation.
Fourthly, to look at changes in land cover, land use, and how the terrestrial and rain ecosystem function and respond to these changes.
And finally, a long-term fundamental research to understand how this planet ticks, what makes it function, and what are its major characteristics and behavior?
Now to do that, we have designed programs to observe, to document, to look at process studies that help us understand the process, develop modeling strategies that look both in the past and the present and the future; to look at this issue of impacts or consequences of change; and to develop new techniques and methodologies that assist decision makers in dealing with the questions that are so central.
The program has invested about $1.8 billion during the FY 1995 year just ended this past September. About 60 percent of that investment is in satellite and ground-based observation and data management.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Would you repeat that figure again for me, please?
Mr. CORELL. 60 percent
Mr. ROHRABACHER. No, no.
Mr. CORELL. The 1995 budget for U.S. global change among the 11 agencies that field the programs is $1.8 billion.
Mr. ROHRABACHER. Yes. I was afraid-I thought you said “million."
Mr. CORELL. No. Billion.
Mr. CORELL. About 60 percent
Mr. ROHRABACHER. We get our "m"s and "b"s mixed up here.
Mr. CORELL. Yes. Right.
About 60 percent is devoted to satellite and ground-based observation and data management of the kind that was so central to our discussion in the first panel.
The second, 30 percent is devoted to field programs and process studies to gain knowledge about the crucial factors that affect change on the planet.
About 4 percent goes to global climate modeling, and the remaining 6 percent is divided in studies of consequence in developing new tools of analysis.
That is the total character of the program.
In returning to the issue of modeling, within the global change program there is a concentrated effort to do global modeling of the Earth's system, as well as special attention to modeling the climate system.
Understanding and predicting the behavior of the Earth's system as we heard this morning is one of the most challenging scientific problems of our times. The spatial scales range from "very local" to "global." Times scales from minutes to the millennia. And the governing process involves the physical, chemical, and biological aspects of our planet.
One of the most viable approaches to getting a better understanding of this is to use comprehensive computer- based models, as we heard this morning. Without the aid of such models, we cannot even begin to track the important and complex interactions, and we use these models to sharpen our understanding of what the key factors are that guide the behavior of the planet.
As we heard this morning in the first panel this morning, these models bring together our scientific understanding of winds, and air pressure, oceanic currents, and eddies, temperature, salinity, water vapor, and clouds, solar, and infrared radiation, precipitation and evaporation, and the list goes on of the many factors that have to be integrated into these mathematical based models.
They allow us to connect the oceans to the atmosphere in turn to the land surface; to understand how sea ice and snow cover changes with time.
In view of the comments this morning, I thought it would be helpful to give some scales that current models are divided into grids or blocks that are roughly the size of the State of Wyoming or Utah. But they only allow us to understand the conditions on roughly the scale of maybe one-third to a half of our continent.
So the scale is still too large to get at some of these regional issues that are of such profound importance to all of us. They are also designed to resolve time scales of maybe season to interannual and maybe over decades to a few centuries.
It is imperative that we increase our ability to do finer-scale resolution and to better represent the total processes, but that will require, as we discussed, greater computational capabilities.
I think this morning we got a good idea of the current state of knowledge about these models. They do best at simulating largescale processes. They are not as good at smaller scale features, and they are better at temperature than they are at precipitation.
These models are the best tools to provide us the insight of what might happen to the planet if it is subjected to various levels of change in the emission of greenhouse gases, or aerosols, or other human activities.
It is also the tool we have to understand natural variability. The balance between these two are a central issue that we are addressing through the program.
In summary, Mr. Chairman, global climate models are a criminal component of our overall U.S. strategy to work with our colleagues abroad to be sure, but to more fully understand global scale climate variability.
In this context, the program is dedicated to providing the Nation with credible, state of the art, global modeling capability.
We thank you for the opportunity to join this hearing this afternoon and to participate in the dialogue and discussion.
Robert W. Corell, Ph. D.
Assistant Director for Geosciences,
Subcommittee on Global Change Research
at the hearing of the
Subcommittee on Energy and Environment,
U.S. House of Representatives
November 16, 1995
CLIMATE CHANGE MODELING AND THE USGCRP
Mr. Chairman and members of the subcommittee:
My name is Robert W. Corell. I am Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation. I am here today because of my additional role as chairman of the interagency Subcommittee on Global Change Research (SGCR), which
administers the U. S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) under the auspices of the Committee on the Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) of the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)
The U. S. Global Change Research Program
SGCR Membership: The SGCR includes representatives of fifteen federal research agencies supporting scientific activities and several planning and oversight offices of the Executive Office of the
President.' While the SGCR coordinates the focused global change research contributions of these agencies in support of the USGCRP, the USGCRP also benefits from important contributions and efforts that are carried out for other primary purposes. A prime example is the data and information that USGCRP research projects can access for research purposes from satellites whose primary purpose is to support national and international weather and disaster forecast programs.
USGCRP Charter: To understand the role of global climate modeling and its tie to governmental policymaking, which is the subject of this hearing, it is essential to have an overall perspective on the USGCRP. The USGCRP was established by President Reagan as a Presidential Initiative and formalized by Congress through the Global Change Research Act of 1990 (P.L. 101-606). This law under which the USGCRP is organized defines its purpose as being "to provide for the development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural process of global change." The law also defines global change as "changes in the global environment (including alterations in climate, land productivity, oceans or other water resources, atmospheric chemistry, and ecological systems) that may alter the capacity of the Earth to sustain life."
Global Change Research: This charter for the USGCRP thus makes clear that there is to be a broad scope and it is to consider the full set of issues dealing with actual and potential global environmental change. The USGCRP is to cover aspects that are of interest to many departments and agencies, and it is to support activities ranging from
1 Agencies and offices with representatives to the SGCR include the Department of Agriculture; the Department of Commerce (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Institute of Standards and Technology); the Department of Defense; the Department of Health and Human Services (National Institutes of Health); the Department of the Interior; the Department of State; the Department of Transportation; the Environmental Protection Agency; the National Aeronautics and Space Administration; the National Science Foundation; the Smithsonian Institution, the Tennessee Valley Authority; the intelligence community; and the Office of Science and Technology Policy, the Council of Economic Advisors, and the Office of Management and Budget of the Executive Office of the President.
2 The USGCRP has been an endorsed initiative of all of the administrations since its establishment in 1989.