Executive Summary The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) focuses on the scientific study of the Earth system and its components. Global change research provides short- and long-term benefits to the nation in a number of different ways:
- Global change research contributes to fundamental scientific knowledge leading to important insights into the interactions of the Earth system, including the oceans, the continents, snow cover and sea ice, and the atmosphere;
- Global change research improves capabilities for documenting and assessing potential changes in the Earth system and the implications of these changes on climate, surface UV radiation, land cover, the health of terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and the availability of future resources such as water, food, and fiber;
- Global change research assists in the development of improved predictions of extreme events such as floods, droughts, and heat waves, thereby allowing actions to reduce the vulnerability of people and property to natural disasters;
- USGCRP research is organized around a framework of observing and documenting change, understanding processes and consequences, predicting future changes, and assessing options for dealing with change. The large quantities of data generated through these activities require the design and implementation of a sophisticated data- and information-management system. This system is designed to make global change data easily accessible to researchers worldwide. In addition, most USGCRP agencies sponsor public information and education programs, and the USGCRP operates a Global Change Research Information Office to assist with disseminating scientific information; and
- Global change research remains a high priority for the United States. The President's budget for FY 1996 proposes to invest $1.8 billion in global change research, including $749 million for space-based observations of the Earth. This request represents an investment in the future health and security of the nation's citizens.