Fundamental research directed at understanding climate change
provides the foundation for all aspects of the USGCRP. This research has
made enormous inroads in understanding climate change and its causes,
and is beginning to develop a strong understanding of current and
potential impacts that will affect human and natural systems today and
in coming decades. Scientific evidence has shown that climate change is
occurring, can be attributed to human activities, and poses significant
risks for both human and natural systems. In addition to temperature
increases, this evidence shows a broad spectrum of other climate
changes, such as increases in the frequency of intense rainfall,
decreases in snow cover and sea ice, more frequent and intense heat
waves, rising sea levels, and widespread ocean acidification.
Individually and collectively, these changes pose risks for a wide range
of human and environmental systems, including freshwater resources, the
coastal environment, ecosystems, agriculture, fisheries, human health,
and national security, among others.
As society responds to the risks and opportunities brought on by
climate change, decision makers will require scientific information to
help inform their actions. The scientific community must continue to
conduct research that will improve understanding of the causes and
consequences of climate change, and improve our understanding of the
options available to limit the magnitude of climate change, adapt to
impacts, and capitalize on the opportunities that may arise. In
addition, the scientific community should strive to be as comprehensive,
integrated, and flexible as possible to meet the evolving scientific
needs of society.
To assist the government and society as a whole with understanding,
mitigating, and adapting to climate change, U.S. government agencies
deploy a wide range of powerful resources for research and development.
Each agency has different sets of key specialists and capabilities,
different networks and relationships with the external research
community, and separate program and budget authorities.
As a single interagency program, the USGCRP brings together the
essential capacities for research that are distributed across U.S.
government agencies. Success in translating and delivering the
scientific information necessary and decision making relies on the
coordination of programmatic and budgetary decisions of the 13 agencies
that make up the USGCRP.