Working Document Topical Panel Breakouts
Climate, Energy, and National Security: Topical Panels
May 20-21 and June 24-25, 2009
San Francisco, CA
Please note that the format of the tables and definitions evolved over time as the committee did its work
The goal of the first meetings of the Topical Panels is to develop a preliminary list of indicators of environmental sustainability, in each of the eight Topical areas covered by the Panels. The first day of each meeting will include invited presentations to discuss these concepts in detail and prepare the members of the Panels for the breakout sessions, where they will generate preliminary lists and supporting information. This working document will assist the Panels in completing the breakout task.
A brief summary of definitions is followed by a table to be completed during the breakout sessions. When completed, this table will contain a list of indicators for monitoring environmental sustainability in a given Panel’s Topical area and supporting information. For each indicator proposed, completing the table requires providing information in six categories (columns):
Working title for the proposed indicator
The relevant environmental system
The measurements required to construct the indicator
Application to monitoring changes in the environmental system
Why is the indicator a good indicator of sustainability?
Priority locations for component measurements
The second row of the table provides key questions that the Panels should consider in completing the supporting information for a given indicator.
After completing the table, the Panel is to enter a concise (one-page) summary describing how the proposed indicators are relevant to the subject of monitoring environmental sustainability in the Panel’s Topical area. This description should reflect that the proposed list of indicators represents a step beyond previous efforts to develop lists of measurements for monitoring changes in the physical climate system.
Using the information entered into this working document during the breakout sessions, the Topical Panel Leads will author a report on the subject of indicators of environmental sustainability. This document will take the form of a consensus NRC report and be produced via standard NRC procedures for report review and publication. The document will offer the proposed environmental sustainability indicators in the context of measurements that should be given priority in consideration of a coordinated climate observing strategy.
The following definitions are offered to facilitate the work of the Topical Panels during the breakout sessions. These definitions are neither comprehensive nor exhaustive. Many of these terms will be discussed in greater detail during the meeting plenary, which includes invited presentations by experts in the development and application of these terms.
Sustainability: The ability of a coupled human-environment system to function effectively without major disruption for a period of time. Source: Presentation by Pam Matson and Tom Parris
Environmental Sustainability (in the context of a changing climate): The ability of an environmental system to maintain processes, functions, biodiversity, and productivity in a changing climate and under additional influences resulting from the possible implementation of strategies to mitigate and/or adapt to climate change. Source: ongoing discussions with President of the NAS
Climate Change Indicator: Earth processes related to regimes requiring long-term monitoring to assess trends that are related to changes in the normal distribution of climate patterns. Source: Scitor report
A parameter, or a value derived from parameters, which points to, provides information about, describes the state of a phenomenon/environment/area, with a significance extending beyond that directly associated from a parameter value. Source: Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development
An environmental indicator is a numerical value that helps provide insight into the state of the environment or human health. Indicators are developed based on quantitative measurements or statistics of environmental conditions that are tracked over time.
Environmental indicators can be developed and used at a wide variety of geographic scales, from local to regional to national levels. Source:U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Measurement: The physical parameters that are the essential elements of information needed to construct an indicator via physical, empirical, or stochastic models. Source: Scitor report
Observation: The physical properties detected by an instrument that are used to calculate point-in-time estimates of a given measurement via physical, empirical or stochastic models. Source: Scitor report.
WORKING TABLE FOR COMPLETION DURING
TOPICAL PANEL BREAKOUT SESSIONS
Please provide a brief (one-page) synopsis of your panel’s thoughts, including why the proposed list of indicators is sufficient for assessing and monitoring environmental sustainability in your topical area. The synopsis should speak to how the proposed indicators represent a step beyond previous efforts to develop indicators that are limited to monitoring climate change and explain how the indicators facilitate monitoring the sustainability of environmental systems.