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Appropriate Balance Does the USGCRP Strike an Appropriate Balance? A particular question, often asked, was whether the FY 1991 program reflects an appropriate balance between initial investments in long-lead time, space-based efforts (specifically the new research initiatives of the Earth Observing System and the Earth Probes series of smaller spacecraft) and investments in more immediate and often less expensive research needs. In considering this particular and other more general questions we need first to define "appropriate balance" (one in which resources are allocated to program components in a manner that will best achieve overall program goals) and then, using this standard, to weigh the program in several ways. Six ways of evaluating balance are discussed below, followed by a set of overall conclusions. BALANCE BETWEEN LONG-TERM AND SEIORT-TERM INVESTMENTS The USGCRP, envisaged as an effort that will span several decades, requires early investment in a number of essential program elements that by their nature require long-lead times. These long-term efforts must be balanced against those that can be immediately set in motion and that may yield results over a shorter term. The most obvious of the long-lead items involve spacecraft, and it is in this area that the FY 1991 program puts much of its budget. It is the 16
17 view of the panel that this is both prudent and unavoidable, given that continuous, long-term, space-based measurements of fundamental earth parameters are essential to achieving the underlying goals of the USGCRP. Space-based instruments and operations are of necessity expensive. Thus it should be expected that the USGCRP must invest substantially, early in the program, in long-lead, space-based capabilities. Part II of this report examines more specific issues regarding the EOS and Earth Probe systems. 1b realize the potential of this investment, it is necessary that it be balanced by an appropriate investment in the broader needs of the program, including human resources and the infrastructure of basic research that is needed to use the data that will be acquired from space. It is the opinion of the panel that this will require, in future years, a heavier commitment to shorter-term investments and to long-term non-space-based efforts than the committment included in the FY 1991 plan. Examples of research activities carrying the promise of shorter term payoffs that should be strengthened and supported include some currently planned space missions such as TOPEX, existing programs that will con- tribute to the USGCRP, efforts in data collection and assimilation, and current efforts to model the earth system. Included in the long-lead, long-term investments that do not involve space are investments in education, to establish a pool of human resources adequate to address both the scientific and technical aspects of global change issues, and a strengthening of basic research into the processes involved in global change, in both disciplinary and interdisciplinary ar- eas. Both of these long-lead elements can only be addressed with full involvement of the academic community. BALANCE BETWEEN EXTRAMURAL AND AGENCY-BASED RESEARCH All the scientists who were consulted in the process of the panel's review expressed strong support for the USGCRP. Many, however, were concerned that the USGCRP-defined as it is by the CEES through agency initiatives might appropriate the more critical elements of the program to create intramural endeavors, or to fund existing initiatives in the name of USGCRP. If in-house, agency research endeavors were allowed to dominate, the program would almost certainly lose the active support and involvement of those academic scientists who have provided the ideas on which the program is based and whose contributions have traditionally defined the cutting edge of research. There are several reasons why the strengths of the academic commu- nity need to be more be fully used in the USGCRP. Most importantly, the USGCRP will require trained scientists in emerging areas of program
18 focus, in most cases more scientists than currently exist. The needed recruit- ment and education can best be carried out within a university community that is involved in global change research and adequately supported to carry it out, and when students perceive that there is a national commit- ment to continued global change research. Other elements of the research community federal laboratories, centers, and industry-complement the universities by providing supplemental training, but they are not well suited to educating large numbers of advanced students. Researchers in the aca- demic community will also make strong intellectual contributions in many of the scientific fields that must grow and adapt to new problems of global change. The materials available to the panel were not adequate to allow an assessment of the balance in funding in the FY 1991 program between in-house, agency initiatives and funding for extramural research. The concerns outlined above could be alleviated, however, were each agency involved in the USGCRP to establish an extramural research program coordinated with its in-house research endeavors. In addition, it would facilitate program review if each agency were to provide a breakdown of its entire USGCRP program contribution showing proposed distribution between extramural and in-house efforts. What constitutes an "appropriate balance" will obviously differ among agencies because of their different missions. The panel recommends that the two steps just described be adopted in the development of future budgets for the program. BALANCE BEIWEEN "BIG" AND "LITTLE" SCIENCE The needs of global change research require that a balance be main- tained between large organized projects and research carried out by indi- viduals or team investigators. By definition, much research in the science of global change requires global data sets and large-scale analyses, involving coordination and instruments that are obtainable only through organized national and international programs of research. At the same time, much of the "little" science that is carried out today by investigators or teams is made possible by data acquired through "big science" efforts, such as the World Climate Research Program. Needed is an appropriate balance of the two. Innovative research by individual investigators has traditionally defined the forefront of scientific discovery, and it is clearly requisite to the success of the USGCRP. This capability can best be advanced by (1) identifying within each science priority element adequate extramural funding for re- search, as recommended above; (2) involving the extramural community in programmatic review at a variety of levels (both agency and cross-agency); (3) maintaining sufficient flexibility in the program to make possible the
/ 19 support of innovative individual research; and (4) maintaining a program focus that is intellectually challenging so as to attract the most able scien- tists, whether they work independently or through organized activities. In the opinion of the panel, the FY 1991 USGCRP plans would be strengthened if areas (1) and (2) above were more clearly supported. BALANCE AMONG OBSERVATIONS, PROCESS STUDIES, AND MODELING The USGCRP comprises three fundamental elements: observations to provide global, long-term data sets for detecting change, focused studies to improve understanding of fundamental earth system processes, and analyt- ical modeling to develop the ability to predict future changes. The three are interactive and interdependent and must be developed in parallel. Pro- cess studies to improve understanding of global change and observational activities often proceed interactively. The results from the process studies and observations furnish information for model building, and the results of the models results often stimulate new process studies and observations. As noted earlier, investment in observational systems dominates the proposed budget for reasons that seem necessary to the panel. The mission of the program requires a combination of space- and ground-based observa- tions to provide global, long-term data sets for detecting change. Although the EOS and Earth Probes include support for associated, ground-based activities, they clearly do not address all program needs for in situ data. Many of the data sets for the USGCRP will have to be secured on or near the surface. It will be necessary that the program include needs for in situ data and the complementarily of space-based and in situ observational programs more explicitly than in the FY 1991 program. In succeeding years of the USGCRP, the two other fundamental ele- ments of the program- process studies and modeling must be emphasized more strongly. Process studies constitute the intellectual driving force of the program. The support for research dealing with process studies, partic- ularly studies that address issues that cut across the seven USGCRP science elements, needs to be strengthened in future years. Although acknowledged in earlier USGCRP documents as the ultimate goal of the program, support for the conceptual efforts needed in modeling is notably lacking in the FY 1991 plan. Two gaps now exist in the modeling aspects of the program: (1) a specification of what the program requires in the way of a national earth system modeling capability, including but extending beyond improved climate system modeling, with an interagency plan that will support it; and (2) a workable plan for interpreting and delivering the results in a form useful to policymakers. It is not too soon to focus on requirements for the first of these given the lead times required
20 to build multi-disciplinary groups of modelers and any new institutions that may be required. How these central issues will be met will need to be addressed in future descriptions of the USGCRP, through a comprehensive national plan, including the role of EOSDIS in modeling efforts. BAIANCE BEIWEEN ESTABLISHED AND EMERGING PROGRAMS The research needed to address issues of global change, as defined nationally by the NRC and the CEES and internationally by ICSU and the WMO, rests on the foundation of a number of contributing programs of research that are already in motion. Among these are the program on International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC), the Joint Global Ocean Flux Study (JGOFS), and elements of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), including the World Ocean Circulation Experiment (WOCE), Tropical Ocean-Global Atmosphere (TOGA), and the Global Energy and Water Experiment (GEWEX). Plans for these programs have been developed over a number of years and represent the consensus of the scientific community involved in global change. Given the current atmosphere of interest in global change, however, it is a great deal easier to invent new programs than to support them once they are established. There is a concern that these necessary, existing programs will suffer as new projects are defined. It would be counterproductive if new elements of the USGCRP were to be initiated at the expense of the established programs on which progress of the overall program depends. A related hazard, given the array of new and existing program elements, is that of underfunding, in the sense of support below the level needed to sustain progress. As cuts are weighed in the overall USGCRP budget in any year, reductions will need to be considered in light of the highest priority needs of the program as a whole. It would be damaging, in the view of the panel, if a potential need to reduce budgets were to be spread evenly over all elements of the program. This element of balance can be addressed directly if the support for contributing programs is made an explicit element of future budgets for the USGCRP. BAIANCE AMONG SCIENCE PRIORITIES The USGCRP identifies seven science priorities, gives them relative rank, and further identifies priority tasks within each of them. The panel concludes that the priorities are generally consistent with the goals and initial aims of- the program and with the recommendations of the CGC. A further measure is how well the funding proposed in the FY 1991 budget conforms to the adopted priorities. In Appendix B. we briefly assess how
21 each of the CEES science priorities and the underlying needs of Modeling, Data and Information Systems, and Documenting Change are treated in the FY 1991 budget. As noted in Appendix B. the panel finds both the program definition and the level of support for the USGCRP science element concerning "hu- man interactions" notably deficient when balanced with the other elements of the program. PRINCIPAL RECOMMENDATIONS The panel recommends that, in preparing future versions of the plan, CEES explicitly consider the above six dimensions of scientific balance for the program as discussed in this chapter, and that these dimensions be employed as explicit criteria in program evaluation. The involvement of the extramural scientific community in the process through advisory and review mechanisms seems essential to this purpose.