Department of Agriculture

Areas of Global Change Research. Research sponsored by USDA focuses on understanding terrestrial systems and the effects of global change (including water balance, atmospheric deposition, vegetative quality, and UV-B radiation) on food and fiber production in agricultural, forest, and range ecosystems. It includes research on interactions between terrestrial ecosystems and the atmosphere; the contributions of agricultural sources of methyl bromide to stratospheric ozone depletion, and possible alternatives and substitutes for this fumigant; methane generation and nitrous oxide release; soil properties, including moisture, erosion, organic matter, nutrient fluxes, and microbes; relationship of global change to forest and range fires, insects, and plant pathogens; agricultural management systems; and validation of satellite measurements.

USDA Program Title FY96 FY97 FY98
Request
ARS Agriculture and Rangeland Global Change 11.7 11.6 10.8
ERS Economics of Global Change and Agriculture 0.8 0.8 0.8
FS Forest Global Change 15.0 19.0 21.0
CSREES Improved Response Models 8.0 8.0 11.8
ARS Methyl Bromide Research 13.7 14.6 14.6
NRCS Soil Carbon Studies 1.5 1.5 1.5
CSREES UV-B Monitoring Network 1.6 1.6 1.6
Total  52.3 57.1
President's Request  63.7 56.7 61.0
*Column does not sum to total, pending Agency's final allocation.

ARS Agricultural Research Service
CREES Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service
ERS Economic Research Service
FS Forest Service
NRCS Natural Resources Conservation Service

FY98 Program Highlights. The goals of the ARS global change research program are to document and mitigate impacts of global change on agricultural and rangeland ecosystems, to assess agriculture's role as a contributor to the causes of global change, and to provide policymakers and agricultural producers with sound scientific information upon which to base wise decisions. In FY98, the research will continue to focus on four broad areas: 1) Experimental determinations of the direct effects of rising atmospheric CO2 levels, increasing temperatures, and their interaction with the physiology and performance of crop plants and with ecosystem processes that control productivity of grazing lands; 2) carbon and nitrogen cycling and fluxes between the terrestrial surface and the atmosphere, including sequestration of carbon in soils and vegetation; 3) changes in hydrological processes associated with climate change that may impact water quality, efficiency of use by crops, and availability for industry, urban use, and irrigated agriculture; and 4) the development of a suite of simulation models with required inputs for predicting responses of crops, watersheds, and managed ecosystems to global change.

CSREES is responsible for administration of USDA extramural research in partnership with the Land Grant University System. A major component of the Agency's FY98 global change research is continued development of a UV-B Monitoring Network. The purpose of the network is to provide USDA with information necessary to determine whether changing levels of UV-B have an effect on food and fiber production in the United States. Attention will be given to development of data products required by the agricultural community to assess the impact of UV radiation on plant and animal productivity. CSREES will continue to support laboratory research on the mechanisms of damage to plants and animals from exposure to increased UV-B radiation, field research on the response of biological systems to increased UV-B radiation, and the development of improved procedures for determining the effects of increased UV-B exposure on biological systems of agricultural importance. CSREES's National Research Initiative Competitive Grants program also supports fundamental and mission-linked research, which is designed to increase our understanding of the possible impacts of global environmental change on the sustainability of agriculture and forestry. Research is supported from the molecular to the ecosystem level for projects that will reduce uncertainty regarding the effects of possible changes in temperature and precipitation patterns, rising carbon dioxide levels, and altered radiation (including UV-B) on crop productivity, natural resources, hydrological processes, and water availability. Integrative projects are also supported which develop models and long-term databases that can be used to interpret the findings from individual studies.

In FY98, ERS will continue efforts to improve understanding of the economics of global change and agriculture. Global modeling and analysis will focus on agricultural links to biodiversity, land-use change, and the ability to satisfy increased demands for agricultural goods and services while minimizing damage to the world's natural resources. Farm-level analysis will focus on the role of learning in adaptation.

Forest Service global change research seeks to establish a sound scientific basis for making regional, national, and international resource management and policy decisions in the context of global change issues. Studies are currently being conducted to determine how atmospheric changes and potential climatic change may affect forest productivity, forest health, and species distributions. Ecosystem-scale experiments involving increased CO2 and other environmental factors have begun at several sites representing major U.S. forest types. As the uncertainty in model predictions is reduced, analysts may begin to describe likely socio-economic effects of global change on forests in the various regions of the United States. For example, the Mapped Atmosphere-Plant-Soil System simulates ecosystem distribution and function under current and potential future climates. Forests in the coterminous United States could experience partial decline or massive dieback over as much as 40-85% of their distribution.

NRCS provides technical and financial assistance in conjunction with conservation partners to managers of privately owned lands for the conservation and wise use of natural resources. In the context of global change, impacts affecting nutrient cycling, animal waste management, air quality, hydric soil environments, soil carbon sequestration and dynamics, and the extent and role of permafrost-affected soils are studied as part of terrestrial ecosystem dynamics.

Related Research. In addition to focused USGCRP research, the USDA sponsors significant research contributing to the assessment of global change effects on the agricultural food and fiber production systems and the forest and forest ecosystems of the U.S. and worldwide. Programs include long-term studies addressing the structure, function, and management of forest and grassland ecosystems; research in applied sciences, including soils, climate, food and fiber crops, pest management, forest fish and wildlife, and social sciences; implementation of ecosystem management on the national forests and grasslands; and human interaction with natural resources.

Mapping of Budget Request to Appropriations Legislation. In the Agriculture, Rural Development, Food and Drug Administration, and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, USGCRP activities are funded under Title I-Agricultural Programs, within the Agricultural Research Service (ARS), Cooperative State Research, Education, and Extension Service (CSREES) Research and Education Activities, and Economic Research Service (ERS) accounts; and under Title II-Conservation Programs, within the Natural Resources Conservation Service (NRCS) Conservation Operations account. In the Interior and Related Agencies Appropriations Bill, USDA USGCRP activities are funded in the USDA Forest Service (FS) section under Title II-Related Agencies, within the FS Forest Research account.