USGCRP Strategic Plan 2016: The National Global Change Research Plan 2012-2021 - A Triennial Update

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Strategic Plan serves as the guiding document for USGCRP through 2021, and this report updates the Program priorities as of 2016. The report summarizes USGCRP’s progress in implementing the Strategic Plan since 2012, and outlines USGCRPS’s primary goals and correlated objectives in interagency research priority areas. USGCRP’s dual mission is to both advance fundamental science and support its use by decision makers - so the report is written for both scientific and decision-maker audiences.

Some of the current primary research priorities for the USGCRP are focused on Arctic research and resilience, methane cycling in the context of the carbon cycle, and water-cycle extremes and their impacts. Since the release of the 2012–2021 Strategic Plan, new capabilities for observing key elements of the water cycle as well as the response of Arctic systems to rapid warming are driving new data and improving model capabilities. USGCRP also is advancing its ability to perform and analyze seasonal climate predictions used in agriculture, water-resources management and other sectors.

Chapter III presents the four goals of the 2012–2021 Strategic Plan, emphasizing areas of progress on which to build, and strategies for managing challenges in each area. 

Goal 1: Advance Science - USGCRP is developing science to inform climate adaptation decisions including models for decision making and planning scenarios. 

Models for Decision Making: The USGCRP member agencies are fostering research that evaluates the efficacy of downscaling techniques for regional and local assessment, and clarifying best practices for choosing appropriate datasets. 

Scenarios to Inform Planning: USGCRP is also focusing efforts on developing scenarios for possible future climate conditions and their impacts. Scenarios examine “if-then” situations, such as how global temperatures will rise over time if atmospheric carbon dioxide concentrations rise by a given amount. They can also be used to create “if-then” estimates of conditions such as future sea-level rise or changes in land use under specified rates and levels of temperature rise.

Goal 2. Inform Decisions - USGCRP also helps to inform decision-making by providing the scientific basis to inform and enable timely decisions on adaptation and mitigation. Objective 2.1. is to “Inform Adaptation Decisions.” Recent efforts related to this objective include programs and activities that offer regions, states, and tribes climate data, tools, and resources specific to their needs. These resources provide information on topics including observed climate trends and projections, scenario planning, and community engagement strategies, intended to help inform decisions on climate preparedness and resilience.

Goal 3. Conduct Sustained Assessments - Build sustained-assessment capacity that improves the Nation’s ability to understand, anticipate, and respond to global change impacts and vulnerabilities.

Goal 4. Communicate and Educate - Advance communications and education to broaden public understanding of global change and develop the scientific workforce of the future. Objectives include to: Strengthen Communication and Education Research, Reach Diverse Audiences, Increase Engagement, and to Cultivate a Scientific Workforce.

Chapter 5 includes an Implementation Strategy. This chapter describes USGCRP governance and Program coordination, planning, and implementation, and the role of agency collaborations for achieving the Plan’s goals. It also discusses USGCRP’s sustained-assessment process, as initiated under the 2012–2021 Strategic Plan.

Appendix I. Program Activity Description by Agency/Department summarizes the principal focus areas related to global-change research for each of the USGCRP member agencies which include the: U.S Department of Agriculture (USDA), Department of Commerce, Dept. of Defense, Dept. of Energy, Human and Health Services, Dept. of the Interior (DOI), Dept. of State, Dept. of Transportation (DOT), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), NASA, National Science Foundation, Smithsonian Institute, and the U.S. Agency for International Development.   



Publication Date: January 2017

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  • Agency guidance/policy
  • Plans (other)
  • Progress report

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