By the end of the next century, the global average temperature
is expected to have increased by 1.0 to 3.5°C (1.8 to 6.3°F),
according to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. As carbon
dioxide (CO2), methane (CH4), and other greenhouse
gases increase, so too will the impacts of air pollution, increased
ultraviolet (UV-B) radiation, and intensified land use. One inevitable
result will be rapid ecosystem changes. These changes will compel
society to make important and far reaching decisions regarding the
management and allocation of natural resources to adapt to and mitigate
global change. As the steward of more than 191 million acres of
national forests and grassland, the USDA Forest Service is committed
to making informed decision and responsibly implementing them.
The Forest Service Global Change Research Program (FSGCRP), as
described in the most recent program plan, provides the scientific
basis to address three broad questions concerning global change
and forest ecosystems (USDA FS 1993):
What processes in forest ecosystems are sensitive to physical and
chemical changes in the atmosphere?
Or in policy terms: Is there a problem?
How will future physical and chemical climate changes influence
the structure, function, and productivity of forest and related
ecosystems, and to what extent will forest ecosystems change in
response to atmospheric changes?
Or in policy terms: How serious is the problem?
What are the implications for forest management and how must forest
management activities be altered to sustain forest productivity,
health, and diversity?
Or in policy terms: What can be done about
Through participation in the US Department of Agriculture's Global
Change Research Program, the FSGCRP is a part of the US Government's
Global Change Research Program (USGCRP).
The USGCRP has been developed under the direction of the Executive
Office of the President, through the National Science and Technology
and its Committee on Environment and Natural Resources (CENR).
The FSGCRP also maintains extensive contacts with international
and private programs and, thus, contributes to global change science
In order to meet its objectives of providing a sound scientific
basis for policy and management decisions, FSGCRP research focuses
on four scientific program elements and two crosscutting activities.
Scientific program elements include:
- Atmosphere/biosphere gas and energy exchange
- Ecosystem dynamics
- Disturbance ecology
- Human activities and natural resource
Crosscutting activities include:
The national program is implemented through regional programs.
US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service. 1992.
PA-1497. Washington, DC: US Department of Agriculture, Forest Service.