Interagency Working Groups (IWGs) Print E-mail

Interagency Working Groups (IWGs) are the primary USGCRP vehicles for implementing and coordinating research activities within and across agencies. These groups are critical to Program integration and in assessing the Program's progress. The working groups span a wide range of interconnected issues of climate and global change, and address major components of the Earth's environmental and human systems, as well as cross-disciplinary approaches for addressing these issues.

IWGs correspond to program functions and are designed to bring agencies together to plan and develop coordinated activities, implement joint activities, and identify and fill gaps in the Program’s plans. They allow public officials to communicate with each other on emerging directions within their agencies, on their stakeholder needs, and on best practices learned from agency activities. Together, these functions allow the agencies to work in a more coordinated and effective manner.

The IWGs are overseen by the Subcommittee on Global Change Research and are composed of representatives from Federal departments and agencies responsible for activities in each research area. Click on the buttons below to learn more about each of USGCRP's interagency working groups.

Interagency Working Groups

The Observations Working Group (ObsIWG) plans, evaluates, and reports on interagency coordination and implementation of observations and monitoring among participating US agencies. As a standing committee that supports the US Global Change Research Program and the CENRS Subcommittee on Global Change Research, the ObsIWG provides a forum for discussion, coordination, and implementation of integrated observational and monitoring capabilities for climate and related global change.

The scope of the ObsIWG includes the comprehensive observational system needed to meet climate science research and monitoring requirements, and includes satellite-based observations and in-situ observations (airborne, ground-based, and oceanbased, and including systematic human observations) in the terrestrial, oceanic, and atmospheric domains.

Coordination strategies developed will be relative to the comprehensive climate observational system, not only to those portions covered by the USGCRP budget, and will reflect external coordination with international organizations and partners.

The Process Research Coordinating Committee helps identify and prioritize fundamental global change science questions that require an coordinated interagency response. This coordination is organized through several "Clusters" of interagency efforts that report back to the Process Research Coordinating Committee, in areas such as Ecosystems and Biodiversity, Biogeochemical Cycles, Climate Dynamics, and Integrated Human and Natural Systems.

USGCRP’s Interagency Group on Integrated Modeling (IGIM) is charged with coordinating global-change related modeling activities across the Federal government and providing guidance to USGCRP on modeling priorities. The 10 Federal Agencies that participate in the IGIM engage on range of relevant topics, including physical models of the Earth system, socioeconomic models of human systems and their interactions with the Earth system, as well as impacts models.

The new USGCRP Strategic Plan recognizes the need to better integrate a broad range of knowledge and expertise from across the breadth of the social sciences in order to achieve its goals and objectives for the next decade. USGCRP thus established a Social Sciences Task Force to identify options, and provide recommendations, for accelerating this integration.

USGCRP’s Carbon Cycle Interagency Working Group (CCIWG) coordinates carbon cycle research funded by USGCRP member agencies. Because the carbon cycle and changes to the carbon cycle are associated with a wide range of global change research needs, the CCIWG works closely with other interagency working groups and engages with international partners. CCIWG works to establish priorities for carbon cycle science and evaluate needs emerging from new findings and observations. Currently, CCIWG coordinates work to advance the following priorities:

  • Explain past and current variations in observed atmospheric concentrations of the major carbon-containing greenhouse gases (CO2 and methane)
  • Understand and quantify socioeconomic drivers of carbon emissions
  • Develop transparent methods to monitor and verify both natural and anthropogenic carbon emissions
  • Assess and evaluate the vulnerability of carbon fluxes and stocks under future conditions of global change and human activities
  • Predict the effects of different CO2 and climate change scenarios on biodiversity, ecosystems, and natural resources, including potential positive feedbacks to the climate system
  • Assess the effectiveness and potential for unintended consequences of carbon management options that may be undertaken to mitigate GHG emissions and climate change
  • Address needs of decision makers of all levels for useable data, information, models, projections, and decision support tools

In 2009, the Obama Administration convened an Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force (ICCATF), including participation from more than 20 Federal agencies. Shortly thereafter, President Obama signed Executive order 13514, “Federal Leadership in Environmental, Energy, and Economic Performance,” directing the ICCATF to recommend ways the Federal government can strengthen the Nation’s ability to adapt to the impacts of climate change. 

USGCRP’s Adaptation Science Workgroup works to ensure that Federal science effectively informs adaptation decisions at a range of scales, in diverse sectors. It also provides scientific support to agencies in the adaptation planning process. Specifically, USGCRP’s Adaptation Science Workgroup is leading the following efforts:

  • Identification of existing capabilities and critical gaps in science for informing adaptation decisions and policies
  • Improvement of the application and translation of science to meet the needs of decision makers
  • Advancement of the social, behavioral, and economic sciences needed to visualize, analyze, and understand adaptation options
  • Guidance for evaluating the effectiveness of adaptive actions

The Global Change Information System IWG provides support, advice, and strategic guidance for developing and implementing an interagency Global Change Information System (GCIS). The GCIS itself is being developed as a federated data structure that bridges multiple data sources and formats from across USGCRP agencies and departments. It is intended to become a single web-based Global Change Web Portal that delivers authoritative, accessible, usable, and timely information for climate and global change for use by diverse audiences.

The GCIS IWG is a forum for agencies to discuss and agree upon metadata and interoperability standards for the GCIS as well as to share information and ensure that any related efforts are complementary. The key first task for the GCIS IWG is to inform implementation of a data system specifically focused on the 2013 National Climate Assessment—which will serve as a pilot for the larger GCIS.

The USGCRP’s Interagency National Climate Assessment (INCA) Working Group plays a vital role in coordinating, supporting, and implementing the Federal components of the assessment, including deploying essential research and infrastructure for a sustained assessment process and products. The INCA Working Group is responsible for coordinating, developing, and implementing an interagency operational plan for the NCA, providing critical input to identify and support future NCA products, and developing interagency assessment capacity at the national and regional scales.

The INCA Working Group plans, coordinates, and implements the development of numerous technical products necessary for the assessment process, many of which have generated cutting-edge, interagency research on climate change science, impacts, and vulnerabilities. Under INCA leadership, the USGCRP agencies have hosted a wide range of expert and stakeholder workshops over the years in numerous regions and sectors to support the development of these technical products, advance assessment methodologies, and identify research needs. 

In April 2012, USGCRP launched a new Interagency Communications and Education Team (ICE-t). The ICE-t is made up of more than 100 self-selected volunteers from 12 Federal agencies who actually do climate communications—including press officers, writers, educators, park rangers, website designers, legislative affairs specialists, graphic designers, and other experts.

The ICE-t is organized as “community of practice” that is inherently inclusive (anyone in any agency can participate), adaptive (tasks, members, and leaders are able to evolve as needed), and action-oriented (there is a focus on near term, concrete, achievable tasks). An initial set of tentatively planned activities includes:

  • Develop tools and strategies to link climate information on USGCRP agency websites
  • Increase use of social media to disseminate global change information to broad audiences
  • Develop communications material on relationships between extreme weather, climate events, and human-caused climate change for rapid deployment when an extreme weather event occurs
  • Support engagement activities related to the 2013 National Climate Assessment
  • Increase the application of social science research to Federal climate communications by inviting leading experts to engage with Federal communicators
  • Apply communications expertise to the design of a Global Change Information System (GCIS)

The International Research and Cooperation IWG advises and assists the Subcommittee on Global Change Research on advancing USGCRP’s strategic goals through strategic international relationships, partnerships, and funding. The group is developing a portfolio of activities, priorities, and goals for USGCRP’s international activities. Once the portfolio is established, the group will gradually transition into a working-level implementation and coordination.

The Interagency Crosscutting Group on Climate Change and Human Health (CCHHG) is charged with planning, coordinating, implementing, evaluating, and reporting on Federal research related to the human health impacts of global change. The ultimate goal is to ensure that communities are healthy and resilient to the impacts of climate change.  

The CCHHG supports all four of USGCRP’s new strategic goals and works to address key gaps in understanding of the human health–related impacts of global change.  Specific activity areas include:

  • Adaptation: including ongoing support for the Interagency Climate Change Adaptation Task Force
  • Assessment: including technical input and stakeholder engagement support for the development of the NCA reports
  • Communication, Education, and Engagement: including coordination with USGCRP’s Interagency Communication and Education Team
  • Data Integration: including development of an interactive Metadata Access Tool for Climate and Health (MATCH) with data sets, early warning systems, and monitoring tools related to the human health impacts of global climate change
  • Joint Research and Funding Planning: including development of a human health and climate change research framework, gap analysis, prioritization of research needs, and coordination of joint funding opportunities
  • International: including review of International human health adaptation plans and assessments to capture lessons learned and engagement with the global health community on climate change and human health