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Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes

Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes

Date: January 2009
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: This Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product addresses current capabilities to integrate observations of the climate system into a consistent description of past and current conditions through the method of reanalysis. In addition, the Product assesses present capabilities to attribute causes for climate variations and trends over North America during the reanalysis period, which extends from the mid-twentieth century to the present. This Product reviews Past Climate Variability and Change in the Arctic and at High Latitudes. Paleoclimate records play a key role in our understanding of Earth's past and present climate system and in our confidence in predicting future climate changes. Paleoclimate data help to elucidate past and present active mechanisms of climate change by placing the short instrumental record into a longer term context and by permitting models to be tested beyond the limited time that instrumental measurements have been available. Recent observations in the Arctic have identified large ongoing changes and important climate feedback mechanisms that multiply the effects of global-scale climate changes. As discussed in this report, paleoclimate data show that land and sea ice have grown with cooling temperatures and have shrunk with warming ones, amplifying temperature changes while causing and responding to ...
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Thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems

Thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems

Date: January 2009
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: This Report (SAP 4.2) focuses on the thresholds of Climate Change in Ecosystems. As defined in this Synthesis and Assessment Report, 'an ecological threshold is the point at which there is an abrupt change in an ecosystem quality, property, or phenomenon, or where small changes in one or more external conditions produce large and persistent responses in an ecosystem'.Ecological thresholds occur when external factors, positive feedbacks, or nonlinear instabilities in a system cause changes to propagate in a domino-like fashion that is potentially irreversible. This report reviews threshold changes in North American ecosystems that are potentially induced by climatic change and addresses the significant challenges these threshold crossings impose on resource and land managers. Sudden changes to ecosystems and the goods and services they provide are not well understood, but they are extremely important if natural resource managers are to succeed in developing adaptation strategies in a changing world. The report provides an overview of what is known about ecological thresholds and where they are likely to occur. It also identifies those areas where research is most needed to improve knowledge and understand the uncertainties regarding them. The report suggests a suite of potential actions that land and resource managers ...
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Trends in Emissions of Ozone-Depleting Substances, Ozone Layer Recovery, and Implications for Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure

Trends in Emissions of Ozone-Depleting Substances, Ozone Layer Recovery, and Implications for Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure

Date: November 2008
Creator: US Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research.
Description: This Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP 2.4) focuses on the Climate models. Depletion of the stratospheric ozone layer by human-produced ozone-depleting substances has been recognized as a global environmental issue for more than three decades, and the international effort to address the issue via the United Nations Montreal Protocol marked its 20-year anniversary in 2007. Scientific understanding underpinned the Protocol at its inception and ever since. As scientific knowledge advanced and evolved, the Protocol evolved through amendment and adjustment. Policy-relevant science has documented the rise, and now the beginning decline, of the atmospheric abundances of many ozone-depleting substances in response to actions taken by the nations of the world. Projections are for a return of ozone-depleting chemicals (compounds containing chlorine and bromine) to their "pre-ozone-depletion" (pre-1980) levels by the middle of this century for the midlatitudes; the polar regions are expected to follow suit within 20 years after that. Since the 1980s, global ozone sustained a depletion of about 5 percent in the midlatitudes of both the Northern Hemisphere and Southern Hemisphere, where most of the Earth's population resides; it is now showing signs of turning the corner towards increasing ozone. The large seasonal depletions in the polar regions are ...
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Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems

Analyses of the Effects of Global Change on Human Health and Welfare and Human Systems

Date: September 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: This document is part of the Synthesis and Assessment Products (SAP) described in the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Strategic Plan. This report is meant to synthesize and communicate the current state of understanding about the characteristics and implications of uncertainty related to climate change and variability to an audience of policymakers, decision makers, and members of the media and general public with an interest in developing a fundamental understanding of the issue.
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Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols

Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for Long-Lived and Short-Lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols

Date: September 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: This report focuses on the Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios. The influence of greenhouse gases and particle pollution on our present and future climate has been widely examined. While both long-lived (e.g., carbon dioxide) and short-lived (e.g., soot) gases and particles affect the climate, other projections of future climate, such as the IPCC reports focus largely on the long-lived gases. This U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product provides a different emphasis. The authors examine the effect of long-lived greenhouse gases on the global climate based on updated emissions scenarios produced by another CCSP Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP 2.1a). In these scenarios, atmospheric concentrations of the long-lived greenhouse gases leveled off, or stabilized, at predetermined levels by the end of the twenty-first century (unlike in the IPCC scenarios). However, the projected future temperature changes fall within the same range as those projected for the latest IPCC report. The authors confirm the robust future warming signature and other associated changes in the climate.
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The United States National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate for 2008: National Activities with Respect to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan

The United States National Report on Systematic Observations for Climate for 2008: National Activities with Respect to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan

Date: September 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program's (CCSP) Observations Working Group
Description: Long-term, high-accuracy, stable environmental observations are essential to define the state of the global integrated Earth system, its history and its future variability and change. Observations for climate include: (1) operational weather observations, when appropriate care has been exercised to establish high accuracy; (2) limited-duration observations collected as part of research investigations to elucidate chemical, dynamical, biological, or radiative processes that contribute to maintaining climate patterns or to their variability; (3) high accuracy, high precision observations to document decadal-to-centennial changes; and (4) observations of climate proxies, collected to extend the instrumental climate record to remote regions and back in time to provide information on climate change at millennial and longer time scales. This report was requested by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in order to serve as input to see how progress has been made with respect to the Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan developed in 2004 In accordance with the UNFCCC guidelines, the sections of the report delineate specific U.S. climate monitoring activities in several distinct yet integrated areas as follows: (1) common issues; (2) non-satellite atmospheric observations; (3) non-satellite oceanic observations; (4) non-satellite terrestrial observations; (5) satellite global atmospheric, oceanic, and terrestrial ...
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Uses and Limitations of Observations, Data, Forecasts, and Other Projections in Decision Support for Selected Sectors and Regions

Uses and Limitations of Observations, Data, Forecasts, and Other Projections in Decision Support for Selected Sectors and Regions

Date: August 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: This Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP), Uses and Limitations of Observations, Data, Forecasts, and Other Projections in Decision Support for Selected Sectors and Regions. This is part of a series of 21 SAPs produced by the CCSP aimed at providing current assessments of climate change science to inform public debate, policy, and operational decisions. This SAP focuses on the use of climate observations, data, forecasts, and other projections in decision support.
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Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations

Climate Models: An Assessment of Strengths and Limitations

Date: July 2008
Creator: Climate Change Science Program (U.S.). Subcommittee on Global Change Research.
Description: This Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP 3.1) focuses on the Climate models. Scientists extensively use mathematical models of Earth's climate, executed on the most powerful computers available, to examine hypotheses about past and present-day climates. Development of climate models is fully consistent with approaches being taken in many other fields of science dealing with very complex systems. These climate simulations provide a framework within which enhanced understanding of climate-relevant processes, along with improved observations, are merged into coherent projections of future climate change. This report describes the models and their ability to simulate current climate.
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Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Year 2009

Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Climate Change Science Program for Fiscal Year 2009

Date: July 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program
Description: The report describes activities and plans of the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), highlighting recent progress in each of the program's research and observational elements. The document also describes how observational and predictive capabilities are being improved and used to create tools to support decision making at local, regional, and national scales to cope with environmental variability and change.
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Preliminary Review of Adaptation Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources

Preliminary Review of Adaptation Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources

Date: June 2008
Creator: U.S. Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research
Description: The U.S. Government's Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is responsible for providing the best science-based knowledge possible to inform management of the risks and opportunities associated with changes in the climate and related environmental systems. To support its mission, the CCSP has commissioned 21 "synthesis and assessment products" (SAPs) to advance decision making on climate change-related issues by providing current evaluations of climate change science and identifying priorities for research, observation, and decision support. This Report-SAP 4.4-focuses on federally managed lands and waters to provide a "Preliminary Review of Adaptation Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems and Resources." It is one of seven reports that support Goal 4 of the CCSP Strategic Plan to understand the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed ecosystems and human systems to climate and related global changes. The purpose of SAP 4.4 is to provide useful information on the state of knowledge regarding adaptation options for key, representative ecosystems and resources that may be sensitive to climate variability and change. As its title suggests, this report is a preliminary review, defined as "the process of collecting and reviewing available information about known or potential adaptation options."
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