Environmental Protection Agency

Areas of Global Change Research. Understanding the regional ecological vulnerabilities to climate change is EPA's primary goal for the Global Climate Change Program. EPA's research aims to address key scientific questions concerning factors affecting the ecological vulnerability of freshwater, coastal, and terrestrial ecosystems to climate change; to examine the human health risks associated with the ecological impacts of climate change; to examine the socio-economic effects of climate change and adaptations to mitigate those effects; and to provide EPA and other stakeholders with technical information needed to understand the costs and performance of risk management options. Stresses associated with climate change are considered in the context of other stressors on ecosystems. Through both extramural funds and intramural activities, EPA supports research on coastal ecosystem vulnerabilities; sentinels or indicators of climate change; regional scenarios of climate projected from GCMs; factors controlling the nutrient and carbon cycles; watershed process models; integrated assessment models; multiple stressor experiments; direct and indirect impacts of climate change on human health; specific climate change mitigation technologies; and the potential for ecosystems to adapt to climate change.

EPA Program Title FY96* FY97 FY98
ORD Terrestrial Carbon Flux Tracking 1.9 0.0 0.0
ORD Developing Predictive Models 2.0 1.8 0.0
ORD Regional Vulnerabilities 11.9 9.7 17.8
ORD Integrated Assessment Research 1.7 1.3 3.3
ORD Stratospheric Ozone Depletion 3.5 1.3 0.0
Total  22.0 14.2
President's Request  23.4 13.7 21.1
*Column does not sum to total, pending Agency's program reclassification.
ORD Office of Research and Development

FY98 Program Highlights. Under the Global Change Research Program, EPA conducts research to understand the factors controlling sensitivity or vulnerability of ecosystems to global change. EPA's ecosystem vulnerabilities program fills a critical gap in scientific knowledge and will help to provide the scientific basis to assess, evaluate, predict, and respond to the causes and consequences of global change on a regional scale.

In FY98, EPA will focus on the following regional vulnerabilities research areas: 1) Regional assessments of the potential ecological risks of climate change for coastal, freshwater, and terrestrial ecosystems in different regions throughout the United States, extending the analysis to include the implications for human health; 2) understanding further the microbial, biological, chemical, and physical processes that control nutrient cycles, carbon storage, and biosphere-atmosphere gas exchange; 3) understanding the vulnerability of watersheds to significant impairment of ecological processes by characterizing landscape-level stressors and exposures at watershed scales; and 4) understanding ecological impacts at the regional level and health effects of potential changes in disease vectors.

EPA's UV-B radiation research will evaluate the biological effects of UV-B radiation, such as the effects on amphibians. EPA will also enhance research in the development of ecosystem indicators as sentinels of change. The focus will be on terrestrial, aquatic, and coastal indicators that can detect and/or quantify the effects of climate change.

Related Research. In addition to the focused USGCRP research activities, EPA conducts contributing research to characterize and understand risks to ecosystems; develop a national, multi-scale, integrated environmental status and trends program; and understand and predict ecosystem exposures, responses, and vulnerabilities to high-risk chemicals and non-chemical stressors at multiple levels of biological organization and geographic scales.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Departments of Veterans Affairs and Housing and Urban Development, and Independent Agencies Appropriations Bill, Environmental Protection Agency USGCRP activities are funded under the EPA section of Title III-Independent Agencies, within the Science and Technology account.