Saturday, March 25, 2017

Objective 1

Improved understanding of interactions and processes of key oceanic, terrestrial, and atmospheric components of Earth’s climate system.

As knowledge of the climate system deepens, an increasing array of processes and their interactions are being recognized and considered as important in understanding the causes of climate variations and change. Major factors include changes in atmospheric composition, the role of the ocean and atmosphere-ocean interactions, atmosphere-land surface interactions including hydrological processes, the role of the cryosphere and interactions with ecosystems and organisms. The processes extend across space and time scales, as do decision-maker needs, from information needed to prepare for extreme events on time scales of a season or less, to adaptation and mitigation policy decisions on time scales out to decades. Developing a more comprehensive understanding of climate processes and mechanisms, and their relative importance in explaining observed climate variations and change, will be essential to increasing confidence and credibility in climate predictions and projections. Such knowledge will also provide an improved scientific basis for characterizing associated uncertainties in predictions and climate change projections.

R&D Targets:

  • Assess the roles of natural variability (e.g., solar changes, volcanic eruptions) and changing radiative forcing (from greenhouse gases and aerosols) in causing observed seasonal-to-multidecadal scale changes in the climate system

  • Assess climate-induced changes in tropical and extratropical cyclones and their associated storm surges

  • Assess climate-induced changes in droughts and heat waves

  • Assess the potential for rapid changes in land-based ice sheets and their impact on global and regional sea level

  • Perform model simulations of ocean, atmosphere, and land-surface processes to support climate-scale hydrologic forecasting capabilities

  • Assess climate-induced changes on the hydrologic cycle in the extended Great Lakes Basin, and its forecasted effect on water level variability

  • Assess the climate influences of ocean basin properties on interannual and decadal predictability

  • Assess the weather and climate features of the tropical oceans to achieve higher confidence in seasonal global and regional predictions (e.g., Madden-Julian Oscillation)

  • Assess the mechanisms that control climate sensitivity to surface albedo, water vapor, and clouds

Objective 2

Identify the causes of climate trends and their regional implications.

Because many of the effects of a variable and changing climate will be felt most strongly at regional-to-local scales, understanding and predictions of regional climate variations and trends must be improved and placed on a firm scientific foundation. Regional climate trends and extreme events that are unanticipated leave decision makers and the public poorly prepared for planning and adaptation. A particularly important requirement is to understand the causes of weather and climate extremes, and whether they are changing. Extreme events often have regionally varying manifestations, and corresponding regional differences in decision-maker needs. For example, hurricanes and storm surges are a key concern on the U.S. Gulf and east coasts, droughts and severe convective storms adversely affect the Midwest, and potent extratropical storms that interact with deep plumes of tropical moisture often lead to heavy precipitation events along the U.S. west coast. A question of compelling public interest is whether recently observed extremes reflect variability that is likely to return to previous conditions or rather are a sign of a new long-term climate trend. Addressing the complex science challenges that occur at regional scales will require multi-disciplinary expertise, necessitating collaborations across NOAA and with external partners.

R&D Targets:

  • Identify causes for the observed regional and seasonal differences in U.S. temperature and precipitation trends and the relationships between trends in climate means and climate variability, especially extreme events, for predictions and projections
  • Clarify the contribution of climate-scale physical processes to extreme events and their variability and frequency R 
  • Assess the connections of polar and high latitude climate variability and change with that of other regions, including the effects of declining sea ice on extratropical climate
  • Provide enhanced access to the current state-of-knowledge on the causes of regional climate trends and extreme events provided to the public and decision makers for planning, adaptation, and other applications
  • Conduct assessments of climate impacts on regional communities and economic sectors
  • Collaborate with economists to provide enhanced monitoring of the costs of weather and climate disasters


Objective 3

Improve understanding of the changing atmospheric composition of long-lived greenhouse gases and short-lived climate pollutants.

NOAA will improve understanding of changes in atmospheric composition to assess the climate forcings, sensitivities, and feedbacks of both long-lived greenhouse gases (e.g., CO2, N2O, CFCs) and short-lived climate pollutants (e.g., aerosols, tropospheric ozone) and associated uncertainties. Improved measurements and analyses of the trends and distributions, sources, transport, chemical transformation, and fate of these climate-forcing agents will lead to more skilled models, which will yield better predictions and projections of future climate and its impacts at local, regional, and global scales. Due to their multiple roles in the atmosphere, an improved understanding of these climate-forcing agents and the processes that influence their distributions will yield additional benefits for reducing air quality degradation and recovery of stratospheric ozone layer.

R&D Targets:

  • Quantify emissions of methane, nitrous oxide and black carbon, and assess the effects of black carbon and organic aerosols on clouds
  •  Reduce uncertainty of North American CO2 flux estimates by 1%
  • Evaluate the effects of four replacement compounds for refrigerants, solvents, and blowing agents on climate and on the stratospheric ozone layer
  • Assess the impact of stratospheric ozone incursions on the tropospheric ozone burden (i.e., climate effects) and on surface air quality in different regions of the U.S.
  • Determine the effects of increasing emissions in different regions of the U.S. (e.g. urban emissions, and oil and natural gas development activities emissions) on climate and regional air chemistry