The AU climate research team in the International Center for Climate and Global Change Research and School of Forestry and Wildlife Sciences contributed a research paper to the Third US National Climate Assessment (NCA), which was just released by the Obama administration this month. The team, consisting of Alumni and Solon Dixon professor Dr. Hanqin Tian and researchers Dr. Susan (Shufen) Pan, Dr. Chaoqun Lu, and Dr. Bo Tao, has been recognized individually by the White House’s Executive Office of the President, Office of Science and Technology Policy for their contribution to the NCA. The NCA is a United States government interagency ongoing effort on climate change science conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990. Dr. Tian and Dr. Pan also contributed to the First National Climate Assessment, which was published in 2000.
The Auburn team focused on biogenic methane and nitrous oxide emissions, two naturally occurring greenhouse gases that contribute to climate warming. The team found that these ecosystem greenhouse gas emissions have risen significantly in the past thirty years and currently are high enough to offset half to one and a half times the carbon sequestration in North America. Though the gases are naturally occurring, human actions can alter the emission rates through things like overuse of nitrogen based fertilizers. Furthermore, the gases are released at higher rates from soil as warmer temperatures occur. The paper concludes that biogenic emissions of methane and nitrous oxide from the North American terrestrial ecosystems are likely to continue raising the concentrations of atmospheric greenhouse gases in the future, which essentially warms the climate and changes precipitation patterns.
According to governmental websites, this NCA confirms that climate change is affecting Americans in every region of the United States and key sectors of the national economy. The report, a component of President Obama’s Climate Action Plan, is described as the most comprehensive and authoritative scientific report ever generated about both climate changes that are happening now in the United States and further changes that we can expect to see throughout this century. One of its key aims is to help translate scientific insights into practical, usable knowledge that can help decision-makers and citizens anticipate and prepare for specific climate-change impacts.
The full report can be viewed at: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov .