Strategic Planning Document -
Environment and Natural Resources

Research Successes

Assessment Unifies International Community

Research over the past 10 years, confirming changes in the composition of the atmosphere from greenhouse gases, provided the basis for the international adoption of the 1992 Framework Convention on Climate Change. Surface station measurements, air trapped in the bubbles in glacial ice, and other records all indicate that human activities since the beginning of the Industrial Revolution are changing the composition of the atmosphere faster and in ways that have not taken place for many millions of years.

In the past, changes in the composition of the atmosphere have been a major cause of climate differences. Already, observations of the global climate indicate that average temperatures are starting to warm, most likely because of increasing concentrations of greenhouse gases (especially carbon dioxide) in spite of the apparent cooling influence of the increased concentration of sulfate aerosols, primarily from sulfur dioxide emissions.

The US Global Change Research Program supported a major portion of climate change research, the results of which have been endorsed by the international scientific community and summarized in scientific assessments by the IPCC.