Organization: Department of Energy (DOE)

Research Title: National Institute for Global Environmental Change (NIGEC)

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 10.5
FY95 9.3
FY96 10.9

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%) Biological Diversity and Ecosystem Research Subcommittee (contributing); Risk Assessment Group Subcommittee
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate change (100%)
(c) Research Activity: System Structure and Function: Understanding (25%); Impacts and Adaptation: Ecological Systems (50%); Assessment: Integrated (25%)

Organizational Component:
Environmental Sciences Division
Office of Health and Environmental Research
Office of Energy Research; ER-74
U.S. Department of Energy
Washington, D.C. 20585
Fax: 301-903-8519

Point of Contact:
Jerry W. Elwood
Phone: 301-903-4583

Research Goals:
To improve (1) understand local and regional effects of climatic and atmospheric changes on ecological systems in the U.S., (2) develop methods and models for conducting integrated assessments of the greenhouse effect on ecological and human systems and the consequences of different policy options for dealing with the causes and consequences; (3) predict climate change at regional and global scales, and (4) estimate regional sources and sinks of energy-related greenhouse gases, especially CO 2 and methane.

Research Description:
NIGEC is a Congressionally-mandated Institute operated by the University of California and consists of six regional centers which support policy-relevant research on the DOE global change research priorities at universities and non-profit research institutions within the six regions. NIGEC supports research to improve the predictive understanding of the ecological consequences at local and regional scales of atmospheric and climatic changes, to develop models and approaches for conducting integrated assessments of the causes and consequences of climatic and atmospheric changes, including the costs and benefits of different policy options for dealing with the causes and consequences. NIGEC also supports research to improve models for predicting the radiative effects of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and clouds on climate, and to quantify regional sources and sinks of carbon dioxide and methane. NIGEC may also allocate a small percentage of its effort to educational activities such as the development of scientific materials and curricula related to global environmental change. NIGEC is in the process of completing a 2-year transition to increase the emphasis on research dealing with the ecological consequences/impacts at the regional scale of climatic and atmospheric change, and with developing methods and models for regional-scale integrated assessments of climate change.

Program Interfaces:
This program is part of DOE's global change research program. Cooperative efforts have been established with projects funded by other agencies, including the USDA and NSF to examine regional effects of climate change on forest ecosystems in the southeastern U.S., potential effects of climate change on agriculture and water resources in the Great Plains and Midwestern U.S., and the role of temperate deciduous forests as a sink for atmospheric CO 2.

Program Milestones:
1996 - Provide improved and tested process models for use in predicting net seasonal and annual exchange of CO 2 with temperate forest and prairie ecosystems. 1997 - Provide new and improved paleoclimate and historic climate data bases for analyzing climate variability and testing global climate models. 1997 - Provide improved global databases on soil carbon for use by the global carbon modeling community. 1998 - Provide tested econometric and other socio-economic models and methods for policy analysis which can be applied at regional and national scales to examine factors contributing to, or affected by, global climate change. 2000 - Provide estimates of relative vulnerabilities of regionally-representative ecosystems to specified changes in climate and atmospheric composition, and the implications of these vulnerabilities to human systems. 2000 -Define regional sources of variation and responses to climate change of CO 2 sources and sinks in regionally-representative ecosystems based on 5-10 year studies.

Policy Payoffs:
NIGEC research will provide needed information for assessing potential impacts of atmospheric and climatic changes at regional scales, predicting future atmospheric concentrations of CO 2 and methane, and improving climate models. The research will have important short- and long-term payoffs to policymakers and research planners.