text-only page produced automatically by LIFT Text Transcoder Skip all navigation and go to page contentSkip top navigation and go to directorate navigationSkip top navigation and go to page navigation
National Science Foundation
News
design element
News
News From the Field
For the News Media
Special Reports
Research Overviews
NSF-Wide Investments
Speeches & Lectures
NSF Current Newsletter
Multimedia Gallery
News Archive
News by Research Area
Arctic & Antarctic
Astronomy & Space
Biology
Chemistry & Materials
Computing
Earth & Environment
Education
Engineering
Mathematics
Nanoscience
People & Society
Physics
 

Email this pagePrint this page


Press Release 11-232
Earth System Models at Decadal and Regional Scales Critical to Understanding Climate Change Effects

New NSF grants seek to improve predictions of climate change and how it will affect Earth's future

Image showing a simulation of one month of 20th century climate.

Simulation of a month of 20th century climate, using the Community Climate System Model.
Credit and Larger Version

October 26, 2011

What will Earth's climate be like in a decade--or sooner? And what will it be like where you live and around the globe?

National Science Foundation (NSF)-funded scientists are working to find answers.

NSF and other federal agencies recently awarded more than $38 million to study the consequences of climate variability and change. The awards, made through the interagency Decadal and Regional Climate Prediction Using Earth System Models (EaSM) program, include more than $20 million allocated by NSF's Directorate for Geosciences.

Among the subjects addressed by the awards are:

  • Atmospheric chemistry and Asia's climate
  • Climate in international negotiations for Earth's resources
  • Climate and humans: how vulnerable are we in urban environments
  • Agricultural planning in South America for the coming decades
  • Weather responses to climate variability, and
  • Constructing a regional Earth system model of the U.S. Northeast Corridor: analyzing 21st century climate and the environment

According to scientists, the EaSM program addresses one of the most pressing problems of the millennium: climate change and how it is likely to affect the world--and how people can plan for its consequences.

That challenge calls for the development of next-generation Earth System Models that include coupled and interactive representations of ecosystems, agricultural working lands and forests, urban environments, Earth's biogeochemistry, atmospheric chemistry, ocean and atmospheric currents, water cycle, land and sea ice and human activities.

"The EaSM projects will expand the limits of our quantitative understanding of the Earth's climate system," says Tim Killeen, NSF assistant director for Geosciences. "They will lead to better ways of predicting climate change. The knowledge being developed will lead to improved, science-based decision-making about our common future."

The consequences of climate variability and change are becoming more immediate and profound than previously anticipated, scientists believe.

Prolonged droughts on several continents, increasing stresses on natural and managed ecosystems, loss of agricultural and forest productivity, degraded ocean and permafrost habitats, global sea-level rise and the rapid retreat of ice sheets and glaciers and changes in ocean currents have shown that climate variability and change may have significant effects on decade and shorter time scales.

Those effects, researchers have found, for humans and other animals, plants and physical systems such as the oceans, may be far-reaching.

Among the goals of the EaSM program is achieving reliable global and regional predictions of decadal climate variability and change through an understanding of the coupled physical, chemical, biological and human processes that drive the climate system.

Awardees are working to quantify the effects of climate variability and change on ecological, agricultural and other human systems, and to identify and quantify "feedback loops" through which humans affect the environment.

Scientists are maximizing observational and model data for impact and vulnerability/resilience assessments, and translating models results, and their uncertainties, into the scientific basis for well-informed human adaptation to and management decisions for climate change.

Decisions that need to happen, says Killeen, in the coming years, not decades or centuries.

Support for these awards also comes from NSF's Directorate for Biological Sciences; Directorate for Mathematical & Physical Sciences; Directorate for Computer & Information Science & Engineering; Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences; Office of Cyberinfrastructure; and Office of Polar Programs.

Other participating agencies include the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) and the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which will announce their awards in respective DOE and USDA news releases.

The 2011 NSF EaSM Awards can be viewed in this PDF (41 Kb).

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Cheryl Dybas, NSF, (703) 292-7734, cdybas@nsf.gov

Related Websites
NSF Science, Engineering, and Education for Sustainability: http://www.nsf.gov/sees

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2014, its budget is $7.2 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives about 50,000 competitive requests for funding, and makes about 11,500 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $593 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

 Get News Updates by Email 

Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: http://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: http://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: http://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: http://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/

 

Observations, top, and simulations, bottom, of teleconnection patterns in upper level winds.
Teleconnection patterns in upper level winds: observations (top) and simulations (bottom).
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of rows of plants in an agricultural field.
Is agriculture possible in some places if climate gets drier? EaSM scientists are finding out.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of a forest.
NSF EaSM scientists are including forests, down to individual trees, in new climate models.
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of the Pine Island Glacier of Antarctica.
The Pine Island Glacier of Antarctica is rapidly melting; how fast is the process occurring?
Credit and Larger Version

Photo of Hyo Jin Kim carrying sampling gear to an Eel River, California, watershed site.
EaSM researcher Hyo Jin Kim carries sampling gear to an Eel River, California, watershed site.
Credit and Larger Version



Email this pagePrint this page
Back to Top of page