Smithsonian Institution

    Areas of Global Change Research. Within the Smithsonian Institution, research conducted at the Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory (SAO), the National Air and Space Museum (NASM), the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center (SERC), National Museum of Natural History (NMNH), Smithsonian Tropical research Institute (STRI) and National Zoological Park (NZP) concentrates on monitoring indicators of natural and anthropogenic environmental change on daily to decadal timescales, and on longer term indicators present in the historical artifacts and records of the museums as well as in the geologic record at field sites. The primary thrust of the Smithsonian’s work is to improve knowledge of the natural processes involved in global climate change, provide a long-term repository of climate-relevant research materials for present and future studies, and to bring this knowledge to various audiences, ranging from scholarly to lay public. The unique contribution of the Smithsonian Institution is a long-term perspective, e.g. undertaking investigations that may require extended study before producing useful results and committing to observations on long (i.e. decadal) timescales.

    FY 2000 Program Highlights. At SAO studies will be performed on atmospheric composition, chemistry, and absorption/transmission of radiation. Remote sensing of stratospheric trace species that play an important role in ozone photochemical cycles will be undertaken using balloons, airplanes, and satellites. Solar activity and irradiance are being studied to better understand the climatic effects of solar variability. Ongoing global sea-level change is being estimated using space geodetic measurements.

    Research at NASM emphasizes the use of remote-sensing data to improve theories of drought, sand mobility, soil stability, and climate change in the eastern Sahara.

    Studies at NMNH and STRI focus on the paleoecology of climate change.

    At SERC, measurements will be made of spectral UV-B in Maryland (25-year record), Hawaii, and other sites in the U.S. These studies will be coupled with the efforts of USGCRP agencies to provide long-term as well as spatially extensive records of UV-B exposure. Several parts of the SI programs will examine biological responses to global change and increase public understanding of global change issues. At SERC, research will be conducted on the responses of global ecosystems to increasing CO2, exotic species introductions, and ozone depletion.

    The Institute for Conservation Biology will provide a focus for cross-institutional activities in biodiversity education and research which will be performed at STRI, NMNH, and NZP. Tropical biodiversity research programs monitor global change effects through repeated sampling of flora and fauna in tropical forests, and identifying the physical and biological processes of growth and decline of species. Other studies on ecosystem response to increasing habitat fragmentation will be conducted at NZP.

    The general public and research community will be informed of global change research at the Smithsonian via exhibits, such as the planned "Forces of Change" exhibit at NMNH, educational programs, and a global change information web page.

    Related Research. Contributing activities include other research conducted by several units within the Smithsonian in a variety of habitats concerning natural and man-induced variations in species, populations-communities and ecosystems. These studies help clarify the relative importance of global change effects as one of several agents of ecological change. Studies of environmental change over long time periods are aided by the Institution’s collections. Utilized by staff and researchers from other institutions, these materials provide raw data for evaluating changes in the physical and biological environment that occurred before human influences.

    Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, Smithsonian Institution USGCRP activities are funded in the SI section of Title II-Related Agencies, within the Salaries and Expenses account. Appropriations Committee reports specify funding for a Sciences line item component of this account, which includes USGCRP programs.