The Climate Change Science Program
(CCSP) was created by the U.S. government
in February, 2002
to address unresolved questions regarding climate change
and global warming
. The CCSP's goal is to "integrate federal research on global change and climate change" across thirteen federal agencies. The CCSP incorporates and integrates the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) with the Administration’s U.S. Climate Change Research Initiative (CCRI). More than 20 CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product reports (SAPs) are scheduled to be produced with the intent of providing decision support information to policymakers and the public.
In announcing the CCRI, President Bush directed the reestablishment of priorities for climate change research, including a focus on identifying the scientific information that can be developed within 2 to 5 years to assist the nation's evaluation of optimal strategies to address global change risks.
The US Climate Change Science Program has five goals:
- Extend knowledge of the Earth’s past and present climate and environment, including its natural variability, and improve understanding of the causes of observed changes
- Improve understanding of the forces bringing about changes in the Earth’s climate and related systems
- Reduce uncertainty in projections of how the Earth’s climate and environmental systems may change in the future
- Understand the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed systems to climate and associated global changes
- Explore the uses and identify the limits of evolving knowledge to manage risks and opportunities related to climate variability and change
Designed as a 10-year plan when released in July 2003, the CCSP Strategic Plan calls for the creation of a series of more than 20 reports called Synthesis and Assessment Products (SAPs). The SAPs are intended to support informed discussion and decisions by policymakers, resource managers, stakeholders, the media, and the general public. They also will help define and set the future direction and priorities of the program.
CCSP reports and products
In May 2006, the first of 21 planned CCSP Synthesis and Assessment reports was issued with NOAA
serving as the lead agency. Titled "Temperature Trends in the Lower Atmosphere: Steps for Understanding and Reconciling Differences the report identified and corrected errors in satellite temperature measurements
and other temperature observations, allowing for increased confidence in the conclusion that on a global scale the lower atmosphere is growing warmer and that:
- "there is no longer a discrepancy in the rate of global average temperature increase for the surface compared with higher levels in the atmosphere." ... "the observed patterns of change over the past 50 years cannot be explained by natural processes alone".
The report also noted that:
- "all current atmospheric data sets now show global-average warming that is similar to the surface warming. While these data are consistent with the results from climate models at the global scale, discrepancies in the tropics remain to be resolved.
Released in July 2007, CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.1 is titled "Scenarios of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Atmospheric Concentrations and Review of Integrated Scenario Development and Application". The report utilizes three different integrated assessments models to explore emission scenarios that could result in the stabilization of greenhouse gas
related radiative forcing
at four different levels. The US Department of Energy
was the lead agency for CCSP SAP 2.1.
Among the scenario highlights listed in the final report's executive summary are:
- "In the stabilization scenarios, GHG emissions reductions require a transformation of the global energy system, including reductions in the demand for energy (relative to the reference scenarios) and changes in the mix of energy technologies and fuels."
- "Substantial differences in GHG emissions prices and associated economic costs arise among the modeling groups for each stabilization level. These differences are illustrative of some of the unavoidable uncertainties in long-term scenarios."
Titled "North American Carbon Budget and Implications for the Global Carbon Cycle the report serves as the CCSP's carbon cycle
chapter, and intends to provide scientific information for U.S. decision support focused on key issues for carbon management and policy. NOAA
is serving as the lead agency for the report that is scheduled for release in September 2007.
CCSP 3.1 is named "Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations for User Applications". A draft of the report's introduction states: "It is the purpose of this report to help the reader understand the valid uses, as well as the limitations, of current climate models. DOE
is serving as the lead agency for the report that is scheduled for release in October 2007.
The use of global climate models
in projecting future climate change is the focus of CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2. Titled "Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for long-lived radiatively active trace gases and future climate impacts of short-lived radiatively active gases and aerosols a draft of the report is scheduled to be made available for public review in September 2007. NOAA
is serving as the lead agency for CCSP SAP 3.2.
A draft of CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3 was made available for public review in August 2007. Titled "Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate its regions of focus are North America
, and U.S. Pacific. NOAA
is serving as the lead agency for CCSP SAP 3.3.
- James R. Mahoney served as the first director of the CCSP and Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere from April 2002 to March 2006.
- William J. Brennan became acting-director of CCSP in June 2006.
- In September 2006, Jane C. Luxton of Virginia was nominated by President Bush to fill the vacancy created by James Mahoney's retirement as Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere . The Luxton nomination stalled in the United States Senate Committee on Commerce, Science and Transportation, after concerns were raised about Luxton's work representing trade metals associations and her lack of experience with weather, oceanographic and climate related issues. In 2001, Luxton served as council for a coalition of metals industry interests in a suit challenging an EPA regulation aimed at reducing cases of lead poisoning.