USGCRP scientists coordinate many of their programs with those of their counterparts in other countries to aggregate the scientific and financial resources needed for the study of global processes on a cohesive and comprehensive basis. This coordination is achieved through a series of global and regional programs. Some of the most important of these at present are:
World Climate Research Programme. The purpose of the WCRP is to develop the fundamental scientific understanding of the climate system and climate processes that is needed in order to determine the extent to which climate can be predicted, and the extent of human influence on climate. The U.S. Climate Variability and Predictability Program and Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment are coordinated through WCRP.
International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme. The goal of the IGBP is to describe and understand the interactive physical, chemical, and biological processes that regulate the total Earth system, the unique environment that this system provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the manner in which these changes are influenced by human actions. U.S. programs coordinated through IGBP include the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study, the Global Ocean Ecosystem Dynamics project, and the Past Global Changes project.
International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change. How humans interact with the environment, how individuals and societies can mitigate or adapt to environmental change, and how policy responses to such changes influence economic and social conditions are at the center of research on the human dimensions of global environmental change within the IHDP. Key IHDP programs underway address Land Use and Land Cover Change and the Institutional Dimensions of Global Environmental Change.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess the available scientific, technical, and socioeconomic information in the field of climate change. The U.S. scientific community participates extensively in IPCC assessments, and the U.S. hosts the Technical Support Unit for IPCC Working Group II on Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability.
The Inter-American Institute for Global Change Research is an intergovernmental organization with U.S. participation dedicated to global change research, to augmenting the scientific capacity of the the Americas, and to providing information in a useful and timely manner to policymakers. The primary objectives of the IAI are to encourage comparative research and focused global change research important to the region as a whole and beyond the scope of individual national programs.
The International Research Institute for Climate Prediction issues seasonal to interannual climate forecasts based on global and regional coupled ocean/atmosphere models. The IRI disseminates this forecast guidance to nations and groups vulnerable to such climate variability phenomena as El Niño and La Ni–a so that they might prepare for and respond to impacts on climate-sensitive sectors such as agriculture, health, and water resources. The IRI is a USGCRP initiative led by NOAA and housed at the Columbia University/Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory and the University of California, San Diego/Scripps Institution of Oceanography. The IRI is forging international partnerships for multilateral sponsorship and management of its programs.
The Integrated Global Observing Strategy Partnership brings together a wide range of international, intergovernmental, and nongovernmental organizations to develop a global observing strategy to meet the needs of global change research and of operational science programs. Key partners include the WCRP, IGBP, and potentially the IHDP; the WMO/UNEP, Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission, and the Food and Agriculture Organization; the International Group of Funding Agencies for Global Change Research (IGFA) and the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites; and the International Council of Scientific Unions.
Development of Two New Integrated International Programs. The USGCRP, beginning in FY 1999, will work with the WCRP, IGBP, IHDP, IGFA, and individual international partners to develop integrated modeling, observational, and process research programs and activities to: (1) identify and quantify regional- to global-scale sources and sinks for carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases and understand how these sources and sinks will function in the future; and (2) identify and quantify regional- to global-scale atmospheric transport and precipitation of water (which control the principal input of hydrological process and water-resource models) and study the global water cycle as a unifying theme that can bridge the gap in the spatial-scale spectrum between atmospheric and hydrological sciences. The latter effort will be coordinated nationally through planning underway to develop joint interagency programs and internationally through international programs that address water cycle research (e.g., the Climate Variability and Predictability Program, the Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment, and the Biospheric Aspects of the Hydrological Cycle program). Both of the above-cited new international efforts are critical to development of climate databases and the prediction systems that utilize them.