Organization: Department of Energy (DOE)

Research Title: Quantitative Links Research

Funding Level (millions of dollars):

FY94 4.3
FY95 2.0
FY96 0.0

Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR) Component:
(a) Subcommittee: Global Change Research Subcommittee (100%)
(b) Environmental Issue: Climate Change (80%); Natural Variability (20%)
(c) Research Activity: System structure and function: Understanding (100%)

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

Point of Contact:
Michael R. Riches
Phone: 301-903-3264

Research Goals:
Objectives of the Quantitative Links research program are to establish the relationships among atmospheric processes, changes in radiative fluxes, and/or changes in local temperature and long-term changes in global temperature (or other changes in climate). A broad range of research on the linkages between changes in atmospheric composition and global change is conducted. Measurements to quantify the relationship are the primary focus.

Research Description:
The program was initiated as a five year research program to investigate the stated above goal. The research is entering the fifth and final year of the program. Research includes measurements and characterization of cloud condensation nuclei for climate model development, methane flux measurements from peat bogs, and laboratory measurements of aerosol optical properties. Statistical analyses of the climatic data have been conducted and provide information on the natural variability of climate. Each project has addressed an uncertainty in the quantification of the link between increasing greenhouse gases and global climate change. The research is therefore highly relevant to cause and effect linkages related to greenhouse gas policy issues.

Program Interfaces:
The national and international measurement, modeling, and integrated assessment communities require specific data on atmospheric processes to reduce scientific uncertainty and establish the link between non-CO 2 greenhouse gases and global change. The Quantitative Links research provides critical data, for example, for assessing the potential increase in atmospheric methane from selected human-influence and natural sources; cloud optical characteristics for ARM; process parameterizations for CHAMMP. Analyses of the climatic record as a forecast tool for future climate change provide information on the natural variability of climate over the period of temperature observations.

Program Milestones:
The Quantitative Links program was designed to provide information to the science and policy process within five years of initiation. Accordingly, final technical reports and data and analyses will be provided in 1995 to primary stakeholders including ARM, CHAMMP, and the international assessment process.

Policy Payoffs:
The research is directly relevant to the central question of cause and effect. The methane data feeds directly into the data base for predicting future atmospheric concentration of greenhouses gases under scenarios of changing climate. The field experiments were conducted under "normal" and drought conditions. Initial analysis of the temperature observations over the last 100 years, indicates that the data themselves are not a good forecaster of the future trend. This provides the integrated assessment researches limits on use of the data as well as reinforces the need for improved predictive models. Such products directly contribute to both National assessments and to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). The knowledge base is and will be used in technical evaluations of greenhouse gas sources and sinks in relation to energy emissions.