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What Is Global Change?

'Global change' refers to changes in the global environment that may alter the capacity of the Earth to sustain life. These changes include:

  • Alterations in climate
  • Land productivity
  • Oceans or other water resources
  • Atmospheric chemistry
  • Ecological systems

Our Vision

A Nation, globally engaged and guided by science, meeting the challenges of climate and global change.

Our Mission

To build a knowledge base that informs human responses to climate and global change through coordinated and integrated Federal programs of research, education, communication, and decision support.

Who We Are

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) is a Federal program that coordinates and integrates global change research across 13 government agencies to ensure that it most effectively and efficiently serves the Nation and the world. USGCRP was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, and has since made the world’s largest scientific investment in the areas of climate science and global change research.

What We Do

Through interagency partnerships, working groups, and collaborations with leading experts, USGCRP works to advance climate science and our understanding of how global change is impacting society, both today and into the future. To date, USGCRP has:

  • Made major advances in our knowledge of Earth’s past and present climate
  • Quantified changes in the Earth’s climate systems
  • Improved climate change projections for the future
  • Advanced our understanding of the vulnerabilities society may have to the impacts of global change

Why It Matters

Every day, USGCRP works to provide sound scientific information about climate and related global change that is useful and accessible to the people, communities, businesses, and decision makers who need it most.  For example, among the many reports and products developed by USGCRP is the National Climate  Assessment (NCA), a status report about climate change science and impacts that is delivered to the President, Congress, and the public every four years.

The NCA integrates information from across all of USGCRP’s research activities to paint a  comprehensive picture of the effects of global change on many sectors of society from the  environment and agriculture; to water resources and transportation; to human health, biodiversity, energy production, and more.

The NCA also analyzes trends in global change and predicts future changes up to 100 years down the road. Like many other USGCRP products, the NCA is widely used by Federal, State, and local decision makers, communities, businesses, and citizens to make important day-to-day decisions and develop strategies for the future.

Earth's Atmosphere

How We Are Evolving

USGCRP has recognized that robust science is just one part of the equation. In order to have impact, science must be clear, accessible, and able to inform decisions.

Our vision, which is laid out in our Strategic Plan for 2012-2021, maintains a clear emphasis on advancing global change science and research, but it also calls for a new focus on ensuring our science informs real-world decisions and actions. Moving forward, our four strategic goals are to:

  1. Advance Science (Study Climate and Global Change)
    Advance scientific knowledge of the integrated natural and human components of the Earth system

  2. Inform Decisions (Prepare the Nation for Change)
    Provide the scientific basis to inform and enable timely decisions on adaptation and mitigation

  3. Conduct Sustained Assessments (Assess the U.S. Climate)
    Build sustained assessment capacity that improves the Nation’s ability to understand, anticipate, and respond to global change impacts and vulnerabilities

  4. Communicate and Educate (Make Our Science Accessible)
    Advance communications and education to broaden public understanding of global change and develop the scientific workforce of the future
Download a Fact Sheet about the U.S. Global Change Research Program.