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United States Department of Agriculture

Agricultural Research Service

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National Program 204: Global Change
Assessment Reports
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An external assessment panel met in February 2008 in Greenbelt, MD. 



The National Program on Global Change has made a number of key findings despite being a relatively new Program. The current accomplishments dealing with CO2 effects, soil organic matter, biogeochemical cycling, biogenic trace gas emissions, agro-ecosystem responses, and climate-weather feedbacks are important contributions. However, the Program overall lacks the rigor of having a more comprehensive and integrated research plan. This aspect of the Program may be resolved during the upcoming consolidation with the NP in Air Quality and Soil where an opportunity to further refine the Global Change research questions and activities can be undertaken. However, one cannot overstate the importance of building upon the progress made in this new Global Change Program and avoiding the potential to lose these gains in a consolidation with other older and/or larger programs.


Some of the features which were seen as highlights in the current set of studies, include the multi-stress effects on cropping and rangeland systems and interactions between C-N-water related to agricultural system response to global change. One area where enhanced attention would benefit the program includes greater use of multiple techniques to study complex spatial and temporal responses of the agricultural systems. Integrated use of isotopic studies, soil microbial studies, compound specific labeling, micro-meteorological flux studies, and remote sensing analysis at certain key regions would be useful to understand the global change responses. Also, greater use of the wealth of in-situ measurements on plant-soil-water-biogeochemical processes and as components of model development and validation should be encouraged and facilitated.


To see a summary of the NP 203 and NP 204 assessments, please click here.

Last Modified: 12/4/2008