Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts Over Decades to Millennia (2011)
Emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth’s climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, emissions reductions choices made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia. Policy choices can be informed by recent advances in climate science that quantify the relationships between increases in carbon dioxide and global warming, related climate changes, and resulting impacts, such as changes in streamflow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise.
Global Change and Extreme Hydrology (2011)
As climate change warms the atmosphere, Earth’s hydrology is shifting—with the potential to make floods and droughts more extreme. There is now a pressing need for decision-makers to better understand the ongoing changes in hydrologic extremes in order to make preparations for changing conditions. This report assesses changes in the frequency and severity of floods and droughts, abilities of communities to understand and forecast these changes, and strategies for better communicating the science to water resources practitioners
Understanding the Earth’s Deep Past: Lessons for Our Climate Future (2011)
A better understanding of how Earth will respond to future climate change could be gained by looking tens of millions of years back into Earth’s past, this National Research Council report finds. Without a reduction in emissions, by the end of this century atmospheric carbon dioxide is projected to increase to levels that Earth has not experienced for more than 30 million years. Critical insights to understanding how Earth’s atmosphere, oceans, and ecosystems would function in this high carbon dioxide environment are contained in the records of warm periods and major climate transitions from Earth’s geological past. This report provides a research agenda for an improved understanding of earth system processes during the transition to a warmer world.
Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannuual Climate Prediction and Predictability (2010)
Accurate forecasts of climate conditions over time periods of weeks to a few years—called intraseasonal to interannual timescales—can help people plan agricultural activities, mitigate drought, and manage energy resources. However, current forecast systems have limited ability on these timescales because models for such climate forecasts must take into account complex interactions among the ocean, atmosphere, and land surface, as well as processes that can be difficult to represent realistically. This sets specific research goals for improving understanding of sources of predictability and suggests best practices to improve methods of making and disseminating forecasts.
Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of A Changing Ocean (2010)
Excess carbon dioxide in the atmosphere—in addition to contributing to climate change—is absorbed by the ocean, making sea water more acidic and leading to a suite of changes in ocean chemistry. Preliminary evidence suggests ocean acidification will have negative effects on corals, shellfish, and other marine life, with wide-ranging consequences for ecosystems, fisheries, and tourism. This report, requested by Congress, reviews the current state of knowledge and identifies gaps in understanding, and provides scientific advice to help guide the national ocean acidification research program.
Verifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Methods to Support International Climate Agreements (2010)
Agreements to limit emissions of greenhouse gases are currently the focus of international negotiations, and with such accords will come the need to accurately estimate these emissions, monitor their changes over time, and verify them with independent data. This report identifies strategic investments that could be made that within five years to both improve self-reporting and yield a capability to verify these estimates and reduce uncertainties about emissions to less than 10 percent.