Building the Knowledge Base

Policies can also be designed to expand the knowledge base relating to the climate system or to reveal information relating to the management of risks associated with climate change.

Research, observations, scientific assessments, and technology development can help reveal risks and opportunities associated with the climate system and support decision-making with respect to climate change risk management. Expanding the knowledge base allows policy makers to understand, select and refine specific risk management strategies and thereby increase the effectiveness of risk management efforts. Knowledge-base expansion can, in some cases, also reveal entirely new opportunities for protecting the climate system or reducing the risks of climate change impacts. Knowledge-base expansion can, in some cases, also reveal entirely new opportunities for protecting the climate system or reducing the risks of climate change impacts. As a result, policies to expand the knowledge base can underpin and support the proactive risk management strategies mitigation, adaptation, and geoengineering.

Climate system research spans numerous disciplines and subdisciplines including those within atmospheric sciences, oceanography, hydrology, biology, cryology, and paleoclimate, among others. Determining the societal consequences of climate variability and change depends on understanding how human systems depend on and will respond to potential impacts on physical systems, biological resources, and social institutions. That also requires information from disciplines in the social sciences, including (but not limited to) economics, sociology, history, and political science.

In the United States, The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) coordinates and integrates climate research over 13 executive branch departments and agencies. The total requested budget for FY 2015 that falls within the scope of the USGCRP is $2.5 billion, which would be a $12 million (0.5 percent) increase over FY 2014. Note, however, that this does not account for inflation, which is currently about 1.7 percent per year. Therefore, USGCRP funding would decrease slightly. It is also important to note that funds counted within the USGCRP framework are allocated directly to the agencies and each agency has discretion in what it counts as being within the framework. Therefore, the number reported for USGCRP does not account for all climate-related research and year-to-year changes in USGCRP funding can reflect accounting changes rather than actual changes to agency requests.

Further reading:

Steinbuck and Higgins 2013