Life Support Systems: Atmosphere, Water & Food
"We define preserving life support systems as ensuring the quality and supply of fresh water, controlling emissions into the atmosphere, protecting the oceans, feeding the increased population of the next two generations and maintaining species and ecosystems."
– Our Common Journey
Exploring Health and Environmental Costs of Food: Workshop Summary (2012)
The U.S. food system provides many benefits, not the least of which is a safe, nutritious, and consistent food supply. However, the same system also creates significant environmental, public health, and other costs that generally are not recognized and not accounted for in the retail price of food. A better understanding of external costs would help decision makers at all stages of the life cycle to expand the benefits of the U.S. food system even further. A workshop held in April 2012 focused on the environmental and health impacts of food, using externalities as a basis for discussion and animal products as a case study. The intention was not to quantify costs or benefits, but rather to lay the groundwork for doing so. A major goal of the workshop was to identify information sources and methodologies required to recognize and estimate the costs and benefits of environmental and public health consequences associated with the U.S. food system.
Alternatives for Managing the Nation's Complex Contaminated Groundwater Sites (2012)
Across the United States, thousands of hazardous waste sites are contaminated with chemicals that prevent the underlying groundwater from meeting drinking water standards. These include Superfund sites and other facilities that handle and dispose of hazardous waste, active and inactive dry cleaners, and leaking underground storage tanks; many are at federal facilities such as military installations. While many sites have been closed over the past 30 years through cleanup programs run by the U.S. Department of Defense, the U.S. EPA, and other state and federal agencies, the remaining caseload is much more difficult to address because the nature of the contamination and subsurface conditions make it difficult to achieve drinking water standards in the affected groundwater. This report estimates that at least 126,000 sites across the U.S. still have contaminated groundwater, and their closure is expected to cost at least $110 billion to $127 billion. About 10 percent of these sites are considered "complex," meaning restoration is unlikely to be achieved in the next 50 to 100 years due to technological limitations.
Seasonal-to-Decadal Predictions of Arctic Sea Ice: Challenges and Strategies (2012)
Recent well documented reductions in the thickness and extent of Arctic sea ice cover, which can be linked to the warming climate, are affecting the global climate system and are also affecting the global economic system as marine access to the Arctic region and natural resource development increase. Understanding and projecting future sea ice conditions is important to a growing number of stakeholders, including local populations, natural resource industries, fishing communities, commercial shippers, marine tourism operators, national security organizations, regulatory agencies, and the scientific research community. However, gaps in understanding the interactions between Arctic sea ice, oceans, and the atmosphere, along with an increasing rate of change in the nature and quantity of sea ice, is hampering accurate predictions. Establishing sustained communication between the user, modeling, and observation communities could help reveal gaps in understanding, help balance the needs and expectations of different stakeholders, and ensure that resources are allocated to address the most pressing sea ice data needs.
Himalayan Glaciers: Climate Change, Water Resources, and Water Security (2012)
Scientific evidence shows that most glaciers in South Asia's Hindu Kush Himalayan region are retreating, but the consequences for the region's water supply are unclear, this report finds. The Hindu Kush Himalayan region is the location of several of Asia's great river systems, which provide water for drinking, irrigation, and other uses for about 1.5 billion people. This report makes recommendations and sets guidelines for the future of climate change and water security in the Himalayan Region. This report emphasizes that social changes, such as changing patterns of water use and water management decisions, are likely to have at least as much of an impact on water demand as environmental factors do on water supply. Water scarcity will likely affect the rural and urban poor most severely, as these groups have the least capacity to move to new locations as needed. It is predicted that the region will become increasingly urbanized as cities expand to absorb migrants in search of economic opportunities. As living standards and populations rise, water use will likely increase-for example, as more people have diets rich in meat, more water will be needed for agricultural use. The effects of future climate change could further exacerbate water stress.
National Summit on Strategies to Manage Herbicide-Resistant Weeds: Proceedings of a Symposium(2012)
Preserving the efficacy of herbicides and of herbicide-resistance technology depends on awareness of the increasing resistance of weeds to herbicides used in agriculture and coordinated action to address the problem by individuals at the farm level and beyond. In convening stakeholders for this event, participants took a step toward a recommendation from the 2010 National Research Council report. The Impact of Genetically Engineered Crops on Farm Sustainability in the United States that federal and state government agencies, private-sector technology developers, universities, farmer organizations, and other relevant stakeholders collaborate to document emerging weed-resistance problems and to develop cost-effective resistance-management programs and practices that preserve effective weed control. This report contains a brief synopsis of key points made by each speaker at the summit.
Water Reuse: Potential for Expanding the Nation's Water Supply Through Reuse of Municipal Wastewater (2012)
Expanding water reuse--the use of treated wastewater for beneficial purposes including irrigation, industrial uses, and drinking water augmentation--could significantly increase the nation's total available water resources. Water Reuse presents a portfolio of treatment options available to mitigate water quality issues in reclaimed water along with new analysis suggesting that the risk of exposure to certain microbial and chemical contaminants from drinking reclaimed water does not appear to be any higher than the risk experienced in at least some current drinking water treatment systems, and may be orders of magnitude lower. This report recommends adjustments to the federal regulatory framework that could enhance public health protection for both planned and unplanned (or de facto) reuse and increase public confidence in water reuse.
The first two decades of the U.S. Geological Survey's National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program have provided a successful and useful assessment of U.S. water-quality conditions, how they have changed over time, and how natural features and human activities have affected those conditions. Now, planning is underway for the third decade (Cycle 3) of the Program outlined in the Science Plan, with challenges including ensuring that the NAWQA remain a national program in the face of declining resources, balancing new activities against long-term studies, and maintaining focus amidst numerous and competing stakeholder demands. The Science Plan for Cycle 3 articulates a forward-thinking vision for NAWQA science over the next decade, building on the previous cycles' data, experience, and products. To meet the national needs outlined in the plan, NAWQA would need to emphasize collaboration with other USGS and external programs, and with other federal agencies, state and local governments, and the private sector. Tide gages show that global sea level has risen about 7 inches during the 20th century, and recent satellite data shows that the rate of sea-level rise is accelerating. As Earth warms, sea levels are rising mainly because ocean water expands as it warms; and water from melting glaciers and ice sheets is flowing into the ocean. Sea-level rise poses enormous risks to the valuable infrastructure, development, and wetlands that line much of the 1,600 mile shoreline of California, Oregon, and Washington. As those states seek to incorporate projections of sea-level rise into coastal planning, they asked the National Research Council to make independent projections of sea-level rise along their coasts for the years 2030, 2050, and 2100, taking into account regional factors that affect sea level. This report explains that sea level along the U.S. west coast is affected by a number of factors. These include: climate patterns such as the El Nino, effects from the melting of modern and ancient ice sheets, and geologic processes, such as plate tectonics. Regional projections for California, Oregon, and Washington show a sharp distinction at Cape Mendocino in northern California. South of that point, sea-level rise is expected to be very close to global projections
Twelve years into the Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Project, little progress has been made in restoring the core of the remaining Everglades ecosystem; instead, most project construction so far has occurred along its periphery. To reverse ongoing ecosystem declines, it will be necessary to expedite restoration projects that target the central Everglades, and to improve both the quality and quantity of the water in the ecosystem. The new Central Everglades Planning Project offers an innovative approach to this challenge, although additional analyses are needed at the interface of water quality and water quantity to maximize restoration benefits within existing legal constraints. This report explains the innovative approach to expedite restoration progress and additional rigorous analyses at the interface of water quality and quantity will be essential to maximize restoration benefits.
Challenges and Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences(2012)
New research opportunities to advance hydrologic sciences promise a better understanding of the role of water in the Earth system that could help improve human welfare and the health of the environment. Reaching this understanding will require both exploratory research to better understand how the natural environment functions, and problem-driven research, to meet needs such as flood protection, supply of drinking water, irrigation, and water pollution. Collaboration among hydrologists, engineers, and scientists in other disciplines will be central to meeting the interdisciplinary research challenges outline in this report. New technological capabilities in remote sensing, chemical analysis, computation, and hydrologic modeling will help scientists leverage new research opportunities.
Future Science Opportunities in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean (2011)
Covering nearly 14 million km² (an area approximately 1.4 times the size of the United States), Antarctica is the coldest, driest, highest, and windiest continent on Earth. While it is challenging to live and work in this extreme environment, this region offers many opportunities for scientific research. However, conducting scientific research in the harsh environmental conditions of Antarctica is profoundly challenging. Substantial resources are needed to establish and maintain the infrastructure needed to provide heat, light, transportation, and drinking water, while at the same time minimizing pollution of the environment and ensuring the safety of researchers. This report suggests actions for the United States to achieve success for the next generation of Antarctic and Southern Ocean science. The report highlights important areas of research by encapsulating each into a single, overarching question. The questions fall into two broad themes: those related to global change and those related to fundamental discoveries.
Assessing Requirements for Sustained Ocean Color Research and Operations
(2011) Ocean color measurements reveal a wealth of ecologically important characteristics including: chlorophyll concentration, the rate of phytoplankton photosynthesis, sediment transport, dispersion of pollutants, and responses of oceanic biota to long-term climate changes. Continuity of satellite ocean color data and associated climate research products are presently at significant risk for the U.S. ocean color community. This report aims to identify the ocean color data needs for a broad range of end users, develop a consensus for the minimum requirements, and outline options to meet these needs on a sustained basis. The report assesses lessons learned in global ocean color remote sensing from the SeaWiFS/MODIS era to guide planning for acquisition of future global ocean color radiance data to support U.S. research and operational needs.
Most water resources managers, scientists, and other experts would agree that nonpoint source pollution is a more pressing and challenging national water quality problem today than point source pollution. Nonpoint sources of pollutants include parking lots, farm fields, forests, or any source not from a discrete conveyance such as a pipe or canal. Of particular concern across the Mississippi River basin (MRB) are high levels of nutrient loadings--nitrogen and phosphorus--from both nonpoint and point sources that ultimately are discharged into the northern Gulf of Mexico (NGOM). This report offers strategic advice and priorities for addressing MRB and NGOM water quality management and improvements. Although there is considerable uncertainty as to whether national water quality goals can be fully realized without some fundamental changes to the Clean Water Act, there is general agreement that significant progress can be made under existing statutory authority and budgetary processes.
Climate Change, the Indoor Environment, and Health (2011)
The indoor environment affects occupants' health and comfort. Poor environmental conditions and indoor contaminants are estimated to cost the U.S. economy tens of billions of dollars a year in exacerbation of illnesses like asthma, allergic symptoms, and subsequent lost productivity. Climate change has the potential to affect the indoor environment because conditions inside buildings are influenced by conditions outside them. This report addresses the impacts that climate change may have on the indoor environment and the resulting health effects. It discusses the role the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) should take in informing the public, health professionals, and those in the building industry about potential risks and what can be done to address them.
A Review of the Use of Science and Adaptive Management in California's Draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan (2011)
California's draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan-a draft plan to conserve habitat for endangered and threatened species, while continuing to divert water to agriculture and domestic water users in central and southern California-is incomplete and contains critical scientific gaps. The Bay Delta is a large, complex ecosystem that supplies water from the state's wetter northern regions to the drier southern regions, and also serves as habitat for many species. The Bay Delta Conservation Plan describes a proposal to construct a tunnel or canal to divert water from the northern Delta to the south, thus reducing the need to convey water through the Delta. This report reviews the use of science and adaptive management in the draft Bay Delta Conservation Plan and identifies opportunities to develop a more successful plan.
Achieving Nutrient and Sediment Reduction Goals in the Chesapeake Bay: An Evaluation of Program Strategies and Implementation (2011)
The Chesapeake Bay is North America's largest and most biologically diverse estuary, as well as an important commercial and recreational resource. However, excessive amounts of nitrogen, phosphorus, and sediment from human activities and land development have disrupted the ecosystem, causing harmful algae blooms, degraded habitats, and diminished populations of many species of fish and shellfish. In 1983, the Chesapeake Bay Program (CBP) was established to address the extent, complexity, and sources of pollutants entering the Bay. The National Research Council (NRC) established the Committee on the Evaluation of Chesapeake Bay Program Implementation for Nutrient Reduction in Improve Water Quality in 2009 in response to a request from the EPA. The committee was charged to assess the framework used by the states and the CBP for tracking nutrient and sediment control practices that are implemented in the Chesapeake Bay watershed and to evaluate the two-year milestone strategy.
National Water Resources Challenges Facing the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers (2011)
The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers faces a water planning paradox: demands on national water resources are increasing and becoming more complex and, at the same time, federal budgets for water resources infrastructure are declining. Relatively new project goals, such as the restoration of ecosystems, are being added to the agency's traditional projects and responsibilities. Competing and growing demands for water resource project benefits, combined with the natural limits of hydrologic and ecological systems, present increasingly contentious decision making challenges. This National Research Council report affirms a need for Corps of Engineers leadership in many of the nation's major river and aquatic systems, as there will be a continued need for an innovative and responsive Corps to help address many national water planning challenges. This report is the first in a series of five annual reports providing independent advice on an array of strategic and planning issues, requested by the Corps.
Letter Report Assessing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program's Science Plan (2011)
In 2009, the U.S. Geological Survey requested that the National Research Council (NRC) review and provide guidance on the direction and priorities of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. This review would include perspective on past accomplishments and the current and future design and scope of the program as it moves into its third decade of water quality assessment (Cycle 3). The NRC has continued that advisory role authoring a letter report on the initial Cycle 3 planning document, the Science Framework (Letter Report Assessing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program's Science Framework). Based on advice contained in that letter report, input from stakeholders, and additional reflection from the NAWQA Cycle 3 Planning Team, the Science Framework evolved into the Cycle 3 Science Plan. The Science Plan is the high level planning document that will guide the NAWQA program through the next 10 years of water quality monitoring.
Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (2010)
Much of the nation's experience to date in managing and protecting its people, resources, and infrastructure is based on the historic record of climate variability during a period of relatively stable climate. This report from the America's Climate Choices suite of studies concludes that adaptation to climate change calls for a new paradigm -- one that considers a range of possible future climate conditions and associated impacts, some well outside the realm of past experience. The report calls for a national adaptation strategy to support and coordinate decentralized efforts.
Advancing the Science of Climate Change (2010)
A strong, credible body of scientific evidence shows that climate change is occurring, is caused largely by human activities, and poses significant risks for a broad range of human and natural systems. As decision makers respond to these risks, the nation's scientific enterprise can contribute both by continuing to improve understanding of the causes and consequences of climate change, and by improving and expanding the options available to limit the magnitude of climate change and adapt to its impacts. To make this possible, the nation needs a comprehensive, integrated, and flexible climate change research enterprise that is closely linked with action-oriented programs at all levels.
A Scientific Assessment of Alternatives for Reducing Water Management Effects on Threatened and Endangered Fishes in California s Bay Delta (2010) The California Bay-Delta region receives fresh water from the Sacramento and San Joaquin rivers and their tributaries, and some of that water is diverted for agriculture and southern California metropolitan areas. However, the region's growing population and engineered water-control systems have substantially altered the delta ecosystem and have changed the composition of fish species; while some native species have declined, some introduced species have increased. This report provides a scientific evaluation of two "biological opinions" issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the National Marine Fisheries Service in 2008 and 2009, respectively, that require actions to reduce adverse effects of water diversions on delta smelt, Chinook salmon, Central Valley steelhead, and green sturgeon, such as restricting water diversions during certain periods.
Climate Stabilization Targets: Emissions, Concentrations, and Impacts over Decades to Millenia (2010)
This report from the National Research Council concludes that emissions of carbon dioxide from the burning of fossil fuels have ushered in a new epoch where human activities will largely determine the evolution of Earth's climate. Because carbon dioxide in the atmosphere is long lived, it can effectively lock the Earth and future generations into a range of impacts, some of which could become very severe. Therefore, emissions reductions choices made today matter in determining impacts experienced not just over the next few decades, but in the coming centuries and millennia. Policy choices can be informed by recent advances in climate science that quantify the relationships between increases in carbon dioxide and global warming, related climate changes, and resulting impacts, such as changes in streamflow, wildfires, crop productivity, extreme hot summers, and sea level rise.
Describing Socioeconomic Futures for Climate Change Research and Assessment (2010)
The implications of climate change for the environment and society depend on the rate and magnitude of climate change, but also on changes in technology, economics, lifestyles, and policy that will affect the capacity both for limiting and adapting to climate change. This book reviews the state of science for considering socioeconomic changes over long time frames and clarifies definitions and concepts to facilitate communication across research communities. The book also explores driving forces and key uncertainties that will affect impacts, adaptation, vulnerability and mitigation in the future. Furthermore, it considers research needs and the elements of a strategy for describing socioeconomic and environmental futures for climate change research and assessment.
Ecosystem Concepts for Sustainable Bivalve Mariculture (2010)
With seafood consumption rising and wild stocks of marine life decreasing, mariculture – the cultivation of marine organisms in their natural environments – is becoming an increasingly important source of bivalve shellfish such as oysters, mussels, and clams. However, mariculture operations can affect the integrity of natural ecosystems where they are located, for example, by disturbing marine flora that provide habitat for fish and invertebrates. Expanding mariculture operations will require the adoption of best management practices or performance standards to limit undesirable consequences. Analysis suggests performance standards that monitor key indicators of ecosystem health are most effective, because the scale, location, and type of mariculture operation can be taken into account.
Enhancing Food Safety: The Role of the Food and Drug Administration (2010)
Foodborne illnesses cause hundreds of thousands of hospitalizations and thousands of deaths in the U.S each year. The severity of these diseases and the frequency with which they occur highlight the need to evaluate how well the current food safety system protects the public’s health. While food safety is regulated by several agencies, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) oversees approximately 80 percent of the U.S. food supply, including all produce, seafood, and cheeses. Food safety experts and the public have criticized the FDA’s food safety system and questioned whether it properly safeguards Americans from foodborne diseases. Congress asked the IOM to examine the gaps in the current food safety system under the purview of the FDA and to identify the tools needed to improve food safety.
Implementing the New Biology: Decadal Challenges Linking Food, Energy, and the Environment: Summary of a Workshop, June 3-4, 2010 (2010)
Using the New Biology approach to achieve carbon neutrality in food and biofuel production could stimulate new scientific discoveries, energize the public, and motivate a new generation of students. The workshop was intended to provide concrete examples of societal challenges related to food, energy, and the environment that would benefit from the New Biology approach to research. This approach would use collaboration among biologists, physical scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to enhance understanding of biological systems and provide new ways to leverage this understanding to address important societal challenges. Such focused research-for example, basic plant science work to achieve carbon neutrality in food and biofuel production-would fill in knowledge gaps and could provide the basis for the technological advances needed to reach these goals.
This report offers advice and priorities to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency on improving water quality in the Mississippi River basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico-including how to better manage and monitor nutrients, especially nitrogen and phosphorus. Most nutrient pollution across the river basin comes from diffuse, hard-to-trace sources known as nonpoint sources-for example, the majority of nitrogen and phosphorus loadings come from agricultural landscapes and activities. Reaffirming a recommendation from a 2008 National Research Council report on Mississippi River water quality, this report proposes that the Environmental Protection Agency establish a numeric limit for the amount of nutrients in the waters of the northern Gulf.
Informing an Effective Response to Climate Change (2010)
Demand for information to support climate-related decisions has grown rapidly as people, organizations, and governments have moved ahead with plans and actions to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and to adapt to the impacts of climate change. Today, however, the nation lacks comprehensive, robust, and credible information systems to inform climate choices and evaluate their effectiveness. This report from the America's Climate Choices suite of studies examines information needs and recommends ways the federal government can better inform responses by enhancing climate change and greenhouse gas information and reporting systems and by improving climate communication and education.
Letter Report Assessing the USGS National Water Quality Assessment Program’s Science Framework (2010)
The U.S. Geological Survey requested that the National Research Council review and provide guidance on the direction and priorities of the National Water Quality Assessment (NAWQA) Program. This initial letter report concerns the scientific priorities of the NAWQA program as expressed in its NAWQA Science Framework, assessing whether the framework sets forth adequately the priorities for the future which will be addressed in the third cycle of the NAWQA program. This letter report includes guidance on the nature and priorities of current and future water quality issues that will confront the Nation over the next 10-15 years.
Limiting the Magnitude of Future Climate Change (2010)
Meeting internationally discussed targets for limiting atmospheric greenhouse gas concentrations and associated increases in global average temperatures will require a major departure from business as usual in how the world uses and produces energy. This report from the America's Climate Choices suite of studies recommends that a U.S. policy goal be stated in terms of a budget for cumulative greenhouse gas emissions over the period 2012-2050. The report concludes that a carbon pricing system (either cap-and-trade, taxes, or a combination of the two) is the most important step for providing needed incentives to reduce emissions.
Management and Effects of Coalbed Methane Produced Water in the United States (2010)
The extraction of methane (natural gas) trapped deep in some coal beds is a common practice, especially in Western States, but carries with it the issue of what to do with the water that must be pumped out to release the methane. This "produced" water must be managed through some combination of disposal, use, or storage, and often requires treatment to remove salts and other compounds. Currently, the majority of the water is disposed of at least cost, rather than being put to beneficial use, for example, for irrigation and as drinking water for livestock. This study investigates the critical environmental, economic, and regulatory issues associated with coal bed methane produced water, and finds that current management decisions often fail to consider both potential environmental effects and opportunities for beneficial use.
Modeling the Economics of Greenhouse Gas Mitigation: Summary of a Workshop (2010)
Models are fundamental for estimating the possible costs and effectiveness of different policies for reducing greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions. There is a wide array of models to perform such analysis, differing in the level of technological detail, treatment of technological progress, spatial and sector details, and representation of the interaction of the energy sector to the overall economy and environment. These differences impact model results, including cost estimates. More fundamentally, these models differ as to how they represent fundamental processes that have a large impact on policy analysis--such as how different models represent technological learning and cost reductions that come through increasing production volumes, or how different models represent baseline conditions. At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE), the National Academies organized a workshop, summarized in this volume, to consider some of these types of modeling issues.
Monitoring Climate Change Impacts: Metrics at the Intersection of the Human and Earth Systems (2010)
The stresses associated with climate change are expected to be felt keenly as human population grows to a projected 9 billion by the middle of this century, increasing the demand for resources and supporting infrastructure. There are currently many observing systems that capture elements of how climate is changing, for example, direct measurements of atmospheric and ocean temperature. Although those measurements are essential for understanding the scale and nature of climate change, they do not necessarily provide information about the impacts of climate change on humans that are especially relevant for political and economic planning and decision making. This book tackles the challenge of developing an illustrative suite of indicators, measurements (and the locations around the globe where the measurements can be applied), and metrics that are important for understanding global climate change and providing insight into environmental sustainability.
Ocean Acidification: A National Strategy to Meet the Challenges of a Changing Ocean (2010)
The ocean has absorbed a significant portion of all human-made carbon dioxide emissions, benefiting society by moderating the rate of climate change, but also causing unprecedented changes to ocean chemistry. Carbon dioxide taken up by the ocean decreases the pH of the water and leads to a suite of chemical changes collectively known as ocean acidification. The long term consequences of ocean acidification are not known, but are expected to result in changes in many ecosystems and the services they provide to society. This report, requested by Congress, reviews the current state of knowledge and identifies gaps in understanding, with the following key findings.
Progress Toward Restoring the Everglades: The Third Biennial Review--2010 (2010)
Although the progress of environmental restoration projects in the Florida Everglades remains slow overall, there have been improvements in the pace of restoration and in the relationship between the federal and state partners over the last two years. However, the importance of several challenges related to water quantity and quality have become clear, highlighting the difficulty in achieving restoration goals for all ecosystem components in all portions of the Everglades. Rigorous scientific analyses of the tradeoffs between water quality and quantity and between the hydrologic requirements of Everglades features and species are needed to inform future prioritization and funding decisions.
Providing Healthy and Safe Foods As We Age: Workshop Summary (2010)
Does a longer life mean a healthier life? The number of adults over 65 in the United States is growing, but many may not be aware that they are at greater risk from foodborne diseases and their nutritional needs change as they age. The Institute of Medicine's Food Forum held a workshop October 29-30, 2009, to discuss food safety and nutrition concerns for older adults.
A Review of the Proposed Revisions to the Federal Principles and Guidelines Water Resources Planning Document (2010)
Since it was issued in 1983, the federal document Economic and Environmental Principles and Guidelines for Water and Related Land Resources Implementation Studies (the P&G) has guided water resources project planning for four federal agencies. Since the early 1980s, however, there have been many changes in the national water resources planning landscape. In light of these developments, many groups -- including committees of the National Research Council -- have recommended that the P&G be reviewed and modernized. In 2007 the U.S. Congress directed the Secretary of the Army to revise the P&G. Congress also directed the Secretary to consult with other entities, including the National Academy of Sciences. The Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) released its "Proposed National Objectives, Principles and Standards for Water and Related Resources Implementation Studies" in December, 2009. The present report from the National Research Council constitutes a review of the 2009 document issued by the CEQ.
Review of the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study: Report 3
A proposed withdrawal of 262 million gallons of water per day from the St. Johns River in northeast Florida -- intended to help satisfy increasing demand on public water supplies -- may not decrease the river's average flow and water level, according to research conducted by the St. Johns River Water Management District. The unexpected finding assumes management of the upper river basin to bring water back into the system and depends on projected land use patterns that would increase the contribution of stormwater to river flow. In its ongoing review of scientific aspects of the District's Water Supply Impact Study, the National Research Council urges the Water Management District to give as much attention to water quality and environmental impacts from potential increases in water flow and levels as from potential decreases.
Review of the WATERS Network Science Plan (2010)
One of the most critical issues facing the United States today is the proper management of our water resources. Water availability and quality are changing due to increasing population, urbanization, and land use and climate change, and shortages in water supply have been increasing in frequency in many parts of the country. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has entertained the Water and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network as one possible initiative whereby NSF could provide the advances in the basic science needed to respond effectively to the challenge of managing water resources. This book, the final of a series about the WATERS project, provides a more detailed review of the Science Plan and provides advice on collaborating with other federal agencies.
Toward Sustainable Agricultural Systems in the 21st Century (2010)
U.S. farmers are under pressure to satisfy multiple demands, such as to produce more crops, pollute less, fulfill consumer preferences, pay fair wages, and make a living-all with increasingly scarce natural resources such as land and water. To evolve farming systems that meet all of these demands, national agricultural policy, research programs, and food markets need to shift away from emphasizing low costs and high production exclusively and develop a more holistic perspective of how farms provide benefits to society. This report recommends reaching this goal through two parallel efforts: an incremental approach, in which the development of sustainable agricultural techniques will be continued and expanded; and a transformative approach, in which multiple research areas will be brought together to design farming systems that balance the competing demands from the outset.
Verifying Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Methods to Support International Climate Agreements (2010)
The world's nations are moving toward agreements that will bind us together in an effort to limit future greenhouse gas emissions. With such agreements will come the need for all nations to make accurate estimates of greenhouse gas emissions and to monitor changes over time. In this context, the present book focuses on the greenhouse gases that result from human activities, have long lifetimes in the atmosphere and thus will change global climate for decades to millennia or more, and are currently included in international agreements. The book concludes that each country could estimate fossil-fuel CO2 emissions accurately enough to support monitoring of a climate treaty. However, current methods are not sufficiently accurate to check these self-reported estimates against independent data or to estimate other greenhouse gas emissions.
When Weather Matters: Science and Service to Meet Critical Societal Needs (2010)
The past 15 years have seen marked progress in observing, understanding, and predicting weather. At the same time, the United States has failed to match or surpass progress in operational numerical weather prediction achieved by other nations and failed to realize its prediction potential; as a result, the nation is not mitigating weather impacts to the extent possible. This book represents a sense of the weather community as guided by the discussions of a Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate community workshop held in summer 2009. The book addresses issues including observations, global non-hydrostatic coupled modeling, data assimilation, probabilistic forecasting, and quantitative precipitation and hydrologic forecasting. The book also identifies three important, emerging issues--predictions of very high impact weather, urban meteorology, and renewable energy development--not recognized or emphasized in previous studies.
Contaminated Water Supplies at Camp Lejeune: Assessing Potential Health Effects (2009)
In the early 1980s, two water-supply systems on the Marine Corps Base Camp Lejeune in North Carolina were found to be contaminated with the industrial solvents trichloroethylene (TCE) and perchloroethylene (PCE). The water systems were supplied by the Tarawa Terrace and Hadnot Point watertreatment plants, which served enlisted-family housing, barracks for unmarried service personnel, base administrative offices, schools, and recreational areas. The Hadnot Point water system also served the base hospital and an industrial area and supplied water to housing on the Holcomb Boulevard water system (full-time until 1972 and periodically thereafter). This book examines what is known about the contamination of the water supplies at Camp Lejeune and whether the contamination can be linked to any adverse health outcomes in former residents and workers at the base.
Disaster Risk Management in an Age of Climate Change: A Summary of the April 3, 2008 Workshop of the Disasters Roundtable (2009)
In its report Climate Change 2007 the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) noted that global change is likely to result in increased drought, intense tropical cyclone activity, heat waves, and floods in certain regions of the world, including parts of the United States, other developed countries, and developing nations. It further suggested that such developments would require policy makers and other stakeholders to give increased attention to managing new levels of risk posed by extreme events and their adverse impacts. The objective of this workshop was to consider disaster risk management challenges in the context of climate change. Knowledge derived from science and the experience of policy makers and practitioners informed the discussion.
Ecological Impacts of Climate Change (2009)
The world's climate is changing, and it will continue to change throughout the 21st century and beyond. Rising temperatures, new precipitation patterns, and other changes are already affecting many aspects of human society and the natural world. In this book, the National Research Council provides a broad overview of the ecological impacts of climate change, and a series of examples of impacts of different kinds. The book was written as a basis for a forthcoming illustrated booklet, designed to provide the public with accurate scientific information on this important subject.
Global Issues in Water, Sanitation, and Health Workshop: Summary (2009)
As the human population grows - tripling in the past century while, simultaneously, quadrupling its demand for water - Earth's finite freshwater supplies are increasingly strained, and also increasingly contaminated by domestic, agricultural, and industrial wastes. Recognizing that water availability, water quality, and sanitation are fundamental issues underlying infectious disease emergence and spread, the Institute of Medicine held a two-day public workshop, summarized in this volume. Through invited presentations and discussions, participants explored global and local connections between water, sanitation, and health; the spectrum of water related disease transmission processes as they inform intervention design lessons learned from water-related disease outbreaks; vulnerabilities in water and sanitation infrastructure in both industrialized and developing countries; and opportunities to improve water and sanitation infrastructure so as to reduce the risk of water related infectious disease.
Global Sources of Local Pollution: An Assessment of Long-Range Transport of Key Air Pollutants to and from the United States (2009)
Recent advances in atmospheric monitoring and modeling indicate that air pollution can be transported across oceans and continents, affecting air quality and ecosystems in locations far from the original pollution source. Characterizing the magnitude and impacts of transported pollution remains difficult, but these impacts could be considered ''significant'' from a regulatory and public health perspective. This National Research Council report assesses the long-range atmospheric transport of four key types of pollutants: ozone, particulate matter, mercury, and persistent organic pollutants, to help policymakers and air quality managers better understand the issues associated with transported pollution. The report recommends the creation of an integrated pollution source attribution system, which will help to better quantify and predict future impacts of transported pollution and design effective response strategies.
Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate (2009)
Climate change will create a novel and dynamic decision environment that cannot be envisioned from past experience. Moreover, climatic changes will be superimposed on social and economic changes that are altering the climate vulnerability of different regions and sectors of society, as well as their ability to cope. Decision makers will need new kinds of information and new ways of thinking and learning to function effectively in a changing climate. The information that is needed is not only about climate, but also about changes in social and economic conditions that interact with climate change. This report provides a framework and a set of strategies and methods for organizing and evaluating decision support activities related to climate change. Based on basic knowledge of decision making; past experiences in other fields; experience with early efforts in the climate arena; and input from a range of decision makers, the book identifies six principles of effective decision support and recommends a strategy for implementing them in a national initiative to inform climate-related decisions.
Letter Report on the Development of a Model for Ranking FDA Product Categories on the Basis of Health Risks (2009)
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) is responsible for ensuring the safety, efficacy, and security of the many food and health products that fall under its purview. To help decision-makers evaluate the diverse array of product categories, FDA and the Department of Health and Human Services asked the National Research Council to convene a committee to develop and apply an evidence-based conceptual model for ranking product categories based on potential health consequences. The committee's work is being carried out in two phases. This is the committee's first report; it provides some background information on comparative risk analysis, outlines a conceptual model for ranking product categories, and describes the steps needed to refine the model and conduct a risk-ranking exercise. The committee will continue to refine the model and will issue a final report later in 2009 that will include recommendations for using the risk-ranking model to help inform FDA's decision-making process.
Letter Report on the Orbiting Carbon Observatory(2009)
A climate treaty could be negotiated by the end of 2009, yet current methods for estimating greenhouse gas emissions have limitations for treaty monitoring and verification. This National Research Council letter report assesses whether NASA's Orbiting Carbon Observatory (OCO), which failed on launch in early 2009, could be of use in monitoring emissions. The report concludes that the observatory could have tested the engineering designs and measurement concepts required to develop a robust capability for monitoring emissions from space.
Letter Report on the Review of the Food Safety and Inspection Service Proposed Risk-Based Approach to and Application of Public-Health Attribution (2009)
The proper inspection of meat and poultry products - foods that are major contributors to human-foodborne illness - is vital to the public health of our nation. The task belongs to the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which recently proposed a risk-based methodology for prioritizing its inspection of slaughtering and meat processing facilities. At FSIS's request, this NRC letter report evaluates the agency''s methodology for ranking facilities based on the extent to which their food products are potential sources of Salmonella, E. coli O157: H7, and Listeria monocytogenes infection. The report recommends that FSIS consider using additional public health data and developing a methodology that more clearly presents the rationale behind the agency''s approach.
Letter Report on the WATERS Network Science Plan (2009)
A Water and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network of hydrologic observatories has been proposed through the National Science Foundation (NSF) to support research that could help address society's water management challenges (e.g., water quality, flood forecasting). The network, as envisioned, would include sensors at diverse sites across the United States and would enable the collection, analysis, and integration of hydrological, environmental science and engineering, and social science data at a level that has not been possible before. At the NSF's request, the National Research Council evaluated the project's Science Plan, which identifies the broad research questions that would be the foundation of the Network. This letter report finds that the Science Plan successfully communicates a high-level vision for transforming water science and engineering research through the WATERS Network, and it identifies high-level research questions that will set a foundation for second-level research. The report questions, however, whether the WATERS Network meets criteria for its proposed funding source and suggests approaches for resolving this concern.
Managing Food Safety Practices: from Farm to Table Workshop Summary (2009)
Legal regulations and manufacturers' monitoring practices have not been enough to prevent contamination of the national food supply and protect consumers from serious harm. In addressing food safety risks, regulators could perhaps better ensure the quality and safety of food by monitoring food production not just at a single point in production but all along the way, from farm to table. Recognizing the troubled state of food safety, the Institute of Medicine's (IOM) Food Forum met in Washington, DC, on September 9, 2008, to explore the management of food safety practices from the beginning of the supply chain to the marketplace.
Mapping the Zone: Improving Flood Map Accuracy (2009)
Flooding is a leading cause of natural disaster in the United States. High-quality, digital mapping is essential to communicating flood hazards to those at risk, setting appropriate insurance rates, and regulating development in flood-prone areas. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) recently generated digital flood maps for most of the U.S. population. However, FEMA has a long way to go to generate high-quality flood maps for those populations most at risk of flooding. Although this effort will require significant investments, the benefits of improving the accuracy of flood maps outweigh the costs, even when the most expensive aspects of map improvement are taken into account.
Nanotechnology in Food Products: Workshop Summary (2009)
Nanotechnology – an emerging technology that enables researchers to manipulate matter at the atomic level – is providing scientists with the ability to enhance food safety and make foods more nutritious and satisfying by enhancing their nutrition content and other characteristics. However, researchers still have much to learn about the result of using nanotechnology to create food packaging or to modify a food, including both benefits and unanticipated adverse effects. On December 10, 2008, the Institute of Medicine held a one-day workshop, summarized in this volume, to explore the use of nanotechnology in food products.
Oceanography in 2025: Proceedings of a Workshop (2009)
What research and technology needs, trends, and barriers might affect oceanography in 2025? Scientists, engineers, and technologists participated in a January 2009 workshop, sponsored by the Office of Naval Research, to include the perspective of the research community for U.S. Navy and Marine strategies for the 2025 timeframe. Physical processes of the ocean, including drivers of temperature, salinity, and currents, were emphasized. Specific areas of interest included submesoscale processes, air-sea interactions, basic and applied research, instrumentation and vehicles, ocean infrastructure, and education. This report is a diverse collection of individually authored white papers that focus on future needs in physical oceanography and related fields from observational, modeling, technological, and societal viewpoints.
Research and Applications Needs in Flood Hydrology Science: A Summary of the October 15, 2008 Workshop (2009)
Flood damages have increased greatly over the past century, in part because of increased development in floodplain areas. Unfortunately, conventional methods used to understand and plan for flooding -- for example by considering flood risk when designing structures and setting insurance rates -- have become outdated. This report summarizes the discussions at a two-day workshop held by the National Research Council to foster dialogue among the science and applications communities on issues related to planning for extreme hydrologic events. Discussions at the workshop focused on research needs in the new science of hydrologic extremes, the role of new and advancing methods to observe and predict flood events, and the interface between the science of hydrologic extremes and how science information is utilized, for example, by agencies to monitor flood levels.
Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change (2009)
Climate change is one of the most important global environmental problems facing the world today. Policy decisions are already being made to limit or adapt to climate change and its impacts, but many of these decisions are being made without the science support that could help shape better outcomes. In the United States, the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is responsible for coordinating efforts to generate the scientific knowledge to understand, predict, and respond to climate change. At the request of the CCSP, the National Research Council established a committee to evaluate the progress of the program and to identify future priorities. This, the committee's second and final report, proposes six priorities for restructuring the United States' climate change research program to develop a more robust knowledge base and support informed responses.
Review of the Methodology Proposed by the Food Safety and Inspection Service for Risk-Based Surveillance of In-Commerce Activities A Letter Report(2009)
The Food Safety and Inspection Service of the U.S. Department of Agriculture is the agency responsible for enforcing federal regulatory statutes applicable to meat, poultry, and egg products. The goal of the regulations is to ensure that the products are wholesome and safe for human consumption. This letter report, produced at the request of the Food Safety and Inspection Service, reviews new methods the agency has proposed to organize its inspection of businesses and their facilities. The report concludes that a risk-based approach for surveillance activities is an appropriate goal and commends the Food Safety Inspection Service for its efforts to develop a systematic approach to surveillance of businesses. The report offers several recommendations for the agency to consider for improving proposed methods.
Review of the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study: Report 1 (2009)
The St. Johns River - the longest river in Florida at 310 miles - supports an extensive and diverse array of ecosystems. However, the St. Johns River Water Management District is seeking new water sources, beyond groundwater, to support a rapidly expanding human population in the watershed. One alternative would be to withdraw 262 million gallons of water per day from the river. To gauge the potential environmental effects, the Water Management District has undertaken a Water Supply Impact Study and has asked the National Research Council to review its scientific aspects and provide advice to the ongoing effort. This report identifies the highest priorities for the District as the impact study continues: to integrate ecological analyses, with each other and with surface water studies; to assemble basic data on sources, sinks, and storage of water and nutrients and to apply advanced hydrologic and wetland modeling. These measures would allow the District to better understand the effects of the proposed water withdrawal, including the nature and extent of dewatering and partial dewatering that may alter the area''s biology.
Review of the St. Johns River Water Supply Impact Study: Report 2 (2009)
This report is the second in a series providing ongoing advice to the St. Johns River Water Management District (the District) as it considers withdrawing additional water from the St. Johns River in east-central Florida for future public supply. The first report included a series of recommendations, some broad and others specific to the seven scientific workgroups that are conducting the Water Supply Impact Study (WSIS). A major focus of the present report is the District’s responses to those recommendations. This report expresses thoughts and opinions on the District’s efforts in that regard and is targeted at the District scientists that have conducted the WSIS. Much of this report focuses on particular areas where the committee concludes that additional or continued attention and work are warranted.
Review of Use of Process Control Indicators in the FSIS Public Health Risk-Based Inspection System: Letter Report (2009)
The United States Department of Agriculture's Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS) is the government agency responsible for ensuring the safety of Americas supply of meat, poultry, and egg products. In an effort to improve its inspection system, FSIS has proposed to modify the allocation of its inspection resources by establishing criteria to rank, based on public health risk, slaughtering and processing establishments. Before implementing the proposed inspection system, FSIS asked the Institute of Medicine (IOM) to evaluate the system, particularly the criteria for ranking slaughtering and processing establishments. In its 2009 letter report Review of the Use of Process Control Indicators in the FSIS Public Health Risk-Based Inspection System, the IOM committee concurs with the use of the risk-based inspection system but makes several recommendations to improve the process.
Scientific Value of Arctic Sea Ice Imagery Derived Products (2009)
During the 1990s, environmental scientists and members of the intelligence community collaborated to consider potential uses of classified assets and data to advance the understanding of environmental change. This program collected classified overhead imagery at six sites around the Arctic basin. Hundreds of unclassified products derived from those images have been produced but not yet released to the public. The National Research Council has reviewed the derived products, and reports that they show detailed processes that are important for studying effects of climate change on sea ice and habitat--data that are not available elsewhere. The report recommends that the products be released as soon as possible to the scientific research community.
Summary of a Workshop on Water Issues in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint and Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACF-ACT) River Basins (2009)
Widespread development and recurrent droughts have escalated demand for water from two river systems that supply much of Georgia and Alabama and the Florida panhandle. Competing demands in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint (ACF) and the Alabama-Coosa-Tallapoosa (ACT) watershed are beginning to exceed available supplies - and have led to considerable litigation. This summary highlights discussions at a workshop, held April 3, 2009, which was designed to identify important issues to be addressed and obstacles to be overcome. Participants identified a rich array of issues that challenge the future of the ACF-ACT system. Several advocated a comprehensive, proactive, and forward-looking assessment to guide water management planning through the next two to three decades. With broad stakeholder input, such an assessment could support a more positive strategic vision and direction for the region's water resources and provide an alternative to continued conflicts over narrower, current issues.
The New Orleans Hurricane Protection System: Assessing Pre-Katrina Vulnerability and Improving Mitigation and Preparedness (2009)
Hurricane Katrina, which struck New Orleans and surrounding areas in August 2005, ranks as one of the nation's most devastating natural disasters. Shortly after the storm, the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers established a task force to assess the performance of the levees, floodwalls, and other structures comprising the area's hurricane protection system during Hurricane Katrina. This report provides an independent review of the task force's final draft report and identifies key lessons from the Katrina experience and their implications for future hurricane preparedness and planning in the region.
The Public Health Effects of Food Deserts: Workshop Summary (2009)
In the United States, people living in low-income neighborhoods frequently do not have access to affordable healthy food venues, such as supermarkets. Instead, those living in ''food deserts'' must rely on convenience stores and small neighborhood stores that offer few, if any, healthy food choices, such as fruits and vegetables. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) and National Research Council (NRC) convened a two-day workshop on January 26-27, 2009, to provide input into a Congressionally-mandated food deserts study by the U.S. Department of Agricultures Economic Research Service. The workshop, summarized in this volume, provided a forum in which to discuss the public health effects of food deserts.
The Role of the Life Sciences in Transforming Americas Future Summary of a Workshop (2009)
The life sciences have a pivotal role to play in addressing many of the global challenges of the 21st century, such as providing food and water to an expanding human population, reducing and adapting to climate change, improving human health, and meeting increasing energy needs. However, steps must be taken quickly to create the conditions that will allow this tremendous potential to be realized. At the request of the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation, the National Research Council has convened a committee to recommend actions federal policy makers can take to ensure that the United States maintains and builds on its lead in the life sciences in a consensus report to be released later in 2009. To inform that study, a major summit was held in December, 2008 that brought together leaders in industry, academia, government, and research foundations to discuss where the life sciences are headed and how best to pave the way for future innovations. This workshop summary describes those discussions.
Toward a Sustainable and Secure Water Future: A Leadership Role for the U.S. Geological Survey (2009)
The number of water resource issues facing the nation continues to grow, driven by population growth, ecological needs, climate change, and other pressures. These problems require new and better water science and information, a key role of the U.S. Geological Society's Water Resource Discipline. This report commends the Discipline's past leadership in water science, including fostering coordination that engages other USGS disciplines and other agencies, particularly in the context of budgetary challenges. It also calls on the organization to refocus its vision on critical national water priorities, and to redefine its role and integrate its programs and projects within this vision to meet the nation's needs.
Uncertainty Management in Remote Sensing of Climate Data: Summary of a Workshop (2009)
Satellites and other remote sensing tools have gathered a great deal of useful data on the Earth's climate system. Much of this data is complex, with multiple components and sources of uncertainty. This summary highlights discussions at a workshop, held on December 4, 2008, which brought statisticians, climate scientists, and experts in remote sensing together to confer on managing uncertainties in remotely sensed climate data. Attendees raised issues for researchers to consider in the future, including improvements in spatial and temporal autocorrelation, and increased physical knowledge in statistical modeling. Participants discussed the need for further collaborations between earth scientists and statisticians to develop a comprehensive statistical framework for analyzing remotely sensed climate data and aid in communicating uncertainties.
Desalination: A National Perspective (2008)
Recent advances in technology have made desalination of seawater and groundwater a realistic option for increasing water supplies in some parts of the United States, and desalination will likely have a niche in the nation''s future water management portfolio. However, its potential is constrained by a host of financial, social, and environmental factors. Substantial uncertainties remain about the environmental impacts of desalination, which have led to costly permitting delays. The National Research Council, with the support of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, convened a committee to assess the state-of-the-art in desalination technologies, identify implementation challenges, and provide recommendations for action and research. The report concludes that a coordinated, strategic research effort with steady funding is needed to better understand and minimize desalination''s environmental impacts and to find ways to further lower its costs and energy use.
Emerging Technologies to Benefit Farmers in Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia (2008)
Increased agricultural productivity is a major stepping stone on the path out of poverty in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, but farmers there face tremendous challenges improving production. Poor soil, inefficient water use, and a lack of access to plant breeding resources, nutritious animal feed, high quality seed, and fuel and electricity combined with some of the most extreme environmental conditions on Earth have made yields in crop and animal production far lower in these regions than world averages. This report identifies sixty emerging technologies with the potential to significantly improve agricultural productivity in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Eighteen technologies are recommended for immediate development or further exploration.
Ensuring the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: Elements of a Strategy to Recover Measurement Capabilities Lost in Program Restructuring (2008)
In 2000, the nation's next generation National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) program anticipated purchasing six satellites for 6.5 billion, with a first launch in 2008. By November 2005, however, it became apparent that NPOESS would overrun its cost estimates by at least 25 percent. In June 2006, the planned acquisition of six spacecraft was reduced to four, the launch of the first spacecraft was delayed until 2013, and several sensors were canceled or descoped in capability. Based on information gathered at a June 2007 workshop, "Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft," this book prioritizes capabilities, especially those related to climate research that were lost or placed at risk following the 2006 changes. This book presents and recommends a prioritized, short-term strategy for recovery of crucial climate capabilities lost in the NPOESS and GOES-R program descopes. However, mitigation of these recent losses is only the first step in establishing a viable long-term climate strategy one that builds on the lessons learned from the well-intentioned but poorly executed merger of the nation''s weather and climate observation systems.
Estimating Mortality Risk Reduction and Economic Benefits from Controlling Ozone Air Pollution (2008)
In light of recent evidence on the relationship of ozone to mortality and questions about its implications for benefit analysis, the Environmental Protection Agency asked the National Research Council to establish a committee of experts to evaluate independently the contributions of recent epidemiologic studies to understanding the size of the ozone-mortality effect in the context of benefit analysis. The committee was also asked to assess methods for estimating how much a reduction in short-term exposure to ozone would reduce premature deaths, to assess methods for estimating associated increases in life expectancy, and to assess methods for estimating the monetary value of the reduced risk of premature death and increased life expectancy in the context of health-benefits analysis. This report details the committees findings and posits several recommendations to address these issues.
Global Challenges and Directions for Agricultural Biotechnology: Workshop Report (2008)
Many developing countries are exploring whether biotechnology has a role in addressing national issues such as food security and environmental remediation, and are considering whether the putative benefits of the technology to biodiversity, health, and local jobs. Some policy leaders worry that their governments are not prepared to take control of this evolving technology and that introducing it into society would be a risky act. Others have suggested that taking no action carries more risk, given the dire need to produce more food. This book reports on an international workshop held to address these issues. Global Challenges and Directions for Agricultural Biotechnology: Mapping the Course, organized by the National Research Council on October 24-25, 2004, in Washington, DC, focused on the potential applications of biotechnology and what developing countries might consider as they contemplate adopting biotechnology. Presenters at the workshop described applications of biotechnology that are already proving their utility in both developing and developed countries.
Global Climate Change and Extreme Weather Events: Understanding the Potential Contributions to the Emergence, Reemergence, and Spread of Infectious Disease: Workshop Summary (2008)
Long before the germ theory of disease was described, late in the nineteenth century, humans knew that climatic conditions influence the appearance and spread of epidemic diseases. Ancient notions about the effects of weather and climate on disease remain embedded in our collective consciousness -- through expressions such as cold for rhinovirus infections; malaria, derived from the Latin for bad air; and the common complaint of feeling under the weather. Today, evidence is mounting that earth's climate is changing at a faster rate than previously appreciated, leading researchers to view the longstanding relationships between climate and disease with new urgency and from a global perspective. On December 4 and 5, 2007, the Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop in Washington, DC to consider the possible infectious disease impacts of global climate change and extreme weather events on human, animal, and plant health, as well as their expected implications for global and national security.
Hydrology, Ecology and Fishes of the Klamath River Basin (2008)
The Klamath River basin, which spans parts of southern Oregon and northern California, has been the focus of a prominent conflict over competing uses for water. Management actions to protect threatened and endangered fish species in the basin have left less water available for irrigation in dry years and heightened tensions among farmers and other stakeholders including commercial fishermen, Native Americans, conservationists, hunters, anglers, and hydropower producers. This National Research Council report assesses two recent studies that evaluate various aspects of flows in the Klamath basin: (1) the Instream Flow Phase II study (IFS), conducted by Utah State University, and (2) the Natural Flow of the Upper Klamath Basin study (NFS), conducted by the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation (USBR). The report concludes that both studies offer important new information but do not provide enough information for detailed management of flows in the Klamath River, and it offers many suggestions for improving the studies. The report recommends that a comprehensive analysis of the many individual studies of the Klamath river basin be conducted so that a big picture perspective of the entire basin and research and management needs can emerge.
Lost Crops of Africa--Volume III, Fruits (2008)
This report is the third in a series evaluating underexploited African plant resources that could help broaden and secure Africa's food supply. The volume describes 24 little-known indigenous African cultivated and wild fruits that have potential as food- and cash-crops but are typically overlooked by scientists, policymakers, and the world at large. The book assesses the potential of each fruit to help overcome malnutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and create sustainable landcare in Africa. Each fruit is also described in a separate chapter, based on information provided and assessed by experts throughout the world. Volume I describes African grains and Volume II African vegetables.
New Directions in Climate Change Vulnerability, Impacts, and Adaptation Assessment: Summary of a Workshop (2008)
With effective climate change mitigation policies still under development, and with even the most aggressive proposals unable to halt climate change immediately, many decision makers are focusing unprecedented attention on the need for strategies to adapt to climate changes that are now unavoidable. The effects of climate change will touch every corner of the world''s economies and societies; adaptation is inevitable. The remaining question is to what extent humans will anticipate and reduce undesired consequences of climate change, or postpone response until after climate change impacts have altered ecological and socioeconomic systems so significantly that opportunities for adaptation become limited. This book summarizes a National Research Council workshop at which presentations and discussion identified specific needs associated with this gap between the demand and supply of scientific information about climate change adaptation.
Nutrient Control Actions for Improving Water Quality in the Mississippi River Basin and Northern Gulf of Mexico (2008)
A large area of coastal waters in the northern Gulf of Mexico experiences seasonal conditions of low levels of dissolved oxygen, a condition known as hypoxia. Excess discharge of nutrients into the Gulf of Mexico from the Mississippi and Atchafalaya rivers causes nutrient overenrichment in the gulf's coastal waters and stimulates the growth of large algae blooms. When these algae die, the process of decomposition depletes dissolved oxygen from the water column and creates hypoxic conditions. In considering how to implement provisions of the Clean Water Act to strengthen nutrient reduction objectives across the Mississippi River basin, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) requested advice from the National Research Council. This book represents the results of the committee's investigations and deliberations, and recommends that the EPA and U.S. Department of Agriculture should jointly establish a Nutrient Control Implementation Initiative to learn more about the effectiveness of actions meant to improve water quality throughout the Mississippi River basin and into the northern Gulf of Mexico. Other recommendations include how to move forward on the larger process of allocating nutrient loading caps which entails delegating responsibilities for reducing nutrient pollutants such as nitrogen and phosphorus across the basin.
Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks (2008)
Detailed weather observations on local and regional levels are essential to a range of needs from forecasting tornadoes to making decisions that affect energy security, public health and safety, transportation, agriculture and all of our economic interests. As technological capabilities have become increasingly affordable, businesses, state and local governments, and individual weather enthusiasts have set up observing systems throughout the United States. However, because there is no national network tying many of these systems together, data collection methods are inconsistent and public accessibility is limited. This report identifies short-term and long-term goals for federal government sponsors and other public and private partners in establishing a coordinated nationwide ''network of networks'' of weather and climate observations.
Preliminary Review of the Draft Science, Education, and Design Strategy for the Water and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network (2008)
One of the most critical issues facing the United States today is the proper management of our water resources. Water availability and quality are changing due to increasing population, urbanization, and land use and climate change. Despite the fact that overall water use in the U.S. has remained relatively constant since about 1980, shortages in water supply have been increasing in frequency in many parts of the country, and water quality is also declining in some areas. The National Science Foundation (NSF) has proposed the Water and Environmental Research Systems (WATERS) Network as one possible initiative whereby NSF could provide the advances in the basic science needed to respond effectively to the challenge of managing water resources. In its interim report, Preliminary Review of the Draft Science, Education, and Design Strategy for the WATER and Environmental Research Systems Network, the committee comments on the WATERS draft design strategy and provides advice in several key categories related to the WATERS plan: science questions; observatory design; sensors; cyberinfrastructure; education and outreach; and governance and management.
Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.3: Reanalyses of Historical Climate Data for Key Atmospheric Features: Implications for Attribution of Causes of Observed Change (2008)
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is in the process of producing 21 draft assessments that investigate changes in the Earth's climate and related systems. These assessments are designed to inform decision-makers about the scientific underpinnings of a range of environmental issues, such as models of past climate conditions. This National Research Council book reviews one of these assessments, Synthesis and Assessment Product 1.3 "Reanalyses of Historical Climate Data for Key Atmospheric Features Implications for Attribution of Causes of Observed Change." The committee commends the authors for clearly stating their goals and their intended audience and for their fidelity in following the prospectus. However, the current draft needs revision to better link reanalysis and attribution. In addition, the document needs to better explain how reanalysis fits into climate science and include a general description of how climate science is done and how the models, observations, and theories are related to the ultimate goal of reanalysis, especially for the benefit of non-specialists.
The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation (2008)
TRB and the Division on Earth and Life Studies (DELS) have released the pre-publication version of TRB Special Report 290, The Potential Impacts of Climate Change on U.S. Transportation, which explores the consequences of climate change for U.S. transportation infrastructure and operations. The report provides an overview of the scientific consensus on the current and future climate changes of particular relevance to U.S. transportation, including the limits of present scientific understanding as to their precise timing, magnitude, and geographic location; identifies potential impacts on U.S. transportation and adaptation options; and offers recommendations for both research and actions that can be taken to prepare for climate change.
Urban Stormwater Management in the United States (2008)
The rapid conversion of land to urban and suburban areas has profoundly altered how water flows during and following storm events, putting higher volumes of water and more pollutants into the nation's rivers, lakes, and estuaries. These changes have degraded water quality and habitat in virtually every urban stream system. The Clean Water Act regulatory framework for addressing sewage and industrial wastes is not well suited to the more difficult problem of stormwater discharges. This report calls for an entirely new permitting structure that would put authority and accountability for stormwater discharges at the municipal level. A number of additional actions, such as conserving natural areas, reducing hard surface cover (e.g., roads and parking lots), and retrofitting urban areas with features that hold and treat stormwater, are recommended.
Agricultural Water Management-Proceedings of a Workshop in Tunisia Series-Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making in Developing Countries (2007)
This report contains a collection of papers presented at a workshop in Merida, Mexico --- Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making: Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Mexico. The cross-cutting themes of the workshop were the elements or principles of science-based decision making and the role of the scientific community in ensuring that science is an integral part of the decision making process. Papers included in this volume describe the groundwater resources of Mexico''s Yucatan Peninsula, approaches to managing groundwater in Mexico and governmental and scientific institutions concerned with water resources. Other papers discuss US approaches to managing scarce water resources. Participants in the workshop included representatives from leading scientific and academic institutions, federal state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses.
Analysis of Global Change Assessments (2007)
Global change assessments inform decision makers about the scientific underpinnings of a range of environmental issues, such as climate change, stratospheric ozone depletion, and loss of biodiversity. Dozens of assessments have been conducted to date by various U.S. and international groups, many of them influencing public policies, technology development, and research directions. This report analyzes strengths and weaknesses of eight past assessments to inform future efforts. Common elements of effective assessments include strong leadership, extensive engagement with interested and affected parties, a transparent science-policy interface, and well defined communication strategies. The report identifies 11 essential elements of effective assessments and recommends that future assessments include decision support tools that make use of information at the regional and local level where decisions are made.
Colorado River Basin Water Management: Evaluating and Adjusting to Hydroclimatic Variability (2007)
Recent studies of past climate and streamflow conditions have broadened understanding of long-term water availability in the Colorado River, revealing many periods when streamflow was lower than at any time in the past 100 years of recorded flows. That information, along with two important trends--a rapid increase in urban populations in the West and significant climate warming in the region--will require that water managers prepare for possible reductions in water supplies that cannot be fully averted through traditional means. This National Research Council report assesses existing scientific information, including temperature and streamflow records, tree-ring based reconstructions, and climate model projections, and how it relates to Colorado River water supplies and demands, water management, and drought preparedness. The report concludes that successful adjustments to new conditions will entail strong and sustained cooperation among the seven Colorado River basin states. The report recommends conducting a comprehensive basinwide study of urban water practices that can be used to help improve planning for future droughts and water shortages.
Contributions of Land Remote Sensing for Decisions About Food Security and Human Health: Workshop Report (2007)
Land remote sensing-the use of space-based satellite technologies to obtain information on environmental variables such as land-use and land-covering combination with other types of data can provide information on changes in the Earth's surface and atmosphere that are critical for forecasting and responding to human welfare issues, such as disease outbreaks, food shortages, and floods. This report summarizes a workshop on the potential contributions of remotely sensed data to land-use and land-cover change and ways to use physical, biological, temporal, and social characteristics of particular locations to support decisions about human welfare. The discussions focused on human health and food security, two aspects of human welfare in which remotely-sensed environmental conditions play a key role. Examples illustrating the possibilities for applying remote sensing for societal benefit are included throughout the report.
Energy Futures and Urban Air Pollution: Challenges for China and the United States (2007)
The United States and China are the top two energy consumers in the world. As a consequence, they are also the top two emitters of numerous air pollutants which have local, regional, and global impacts. Urbanization has led to serious air pollution problems in U.S. and Chinese cities; although U.S. cities continues to face challenges, the lessons they have learned in managing energy use and air quality are relevant to the Chinese experience. This report summarizes current trends, profiles two U.S. and two Chinese cities, and recommends key actions to enable each country to continue to improve urban air quality.
Environmental Public Health Impacts of Disasters: Hurricane Katrina, Workshop Summary (2007)
On October 20 2005, the Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine held a workshop entitled, Environmental Public Health Impacts of Disasters: Hurricane Katrina. The workshop brought together members of the scientific community to highlight the status of the recovery effort, consider the ongoing challenges in the midst of a disaster, look at the scientific issues involved, and be able to reassure the public with the best scientific information. The workshop provided an opportunity to explore some of the most pressing research and preparedness needs related to the health risks of Hurricane Katrina and also a chance to discuss the larger issues for scientific collaboration during a disaster of this magnitude.
Evaluating Progress of the US Climate Change Science Program--Methods and Preliminary Results (2007)
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) coordinates the efforts of 13 federal agencies to understand why climate is changing, to improve predictions about how it will change in the future, and to use that information to assess impacts on human systems and ecosystems and to better support decision making. This report is the first review of the CCSP's progress since the program was established in 2002. It lays out a method for evaluating the CCSP, and uses that method to assess the strengths and weaknesses of the entire program and to identify areas where progress has not met expectations. The committee found that the program has made good progress in documenting and understanding temperature trends and related environmental changes on a global scale, as well as in understanding the influence of human activities on these observed changes. The ability to predict future climate changes also has improved, but efforts to understand the impacts of such changes on society and analyze mitigation and adaptation strategies are still relatively immature.
Exploration of Antarctic Subglacial Aquatic Environments: Environmental and Scientific Stewardship (2007)
Antarctica is renowned for its extreme cold; yet surprisingly, radar measurements have revealed a vast network of lakes, rivers, and streams several kilometers beneath the Antarctic ice sheet. Sealed from Earth''s atmosphere for millions of years, they may provide vital information about microbial evolution, the past climate of the Antarctic, and the formation of ice sheets, among other things. The next stage of exploration requires direct sampling of these aquatic systems. However, if sampling is not done cautiously, the environmental integrity and scientific value of these environments could be compromised. At the request of the National Science Foundation, this National Research Council assesses what is needed to responsibly explore subglacial lakes. The report concludes that it is time for research on subglacial lakes to begin, and this research should be guided by internationally agreed upon protocols. The report suggests an initial protocol, which includes full characterization of the lakes by remote sensing, and minimum standards for biological and other types of contamination.
Green Schools: Attributes for Health and Learning (2007)
Evidence has accumulated that shows that the quality of indoor environments can affect the health and productivity of adults and children. One consequence is that a movement has emerged to promote the design of schools that have fewer adverse environmental effects. To examine the potential of such design for improving education, several private organizations asked the NRC to review and assess the health and productivity benefits of green schools. This report provides an analysis of the complexity of making such a determination; and an assessment of the potential human health and performance benefits of improvements in the building envelope, indoor air quality, lighting, and acoustical quality, while also presenting an assessment of the overall building condition and student achievement, and offers an analysis of and recommendations for planning and maintaining green schools including research considerations.
Implementing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants: Summary of a Workshop in China (2007)
This report summarizes a workshop organized as part of the Academies' workshop series on strengthening science-based decision-making in developing countries. The workshop, ''Implementing the Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants'' was held June 7-10, 2004, in Beijing, China. The presentations and discussions summarized here describe the types of scientific information necessary to make informed decisions to eliminate the production and use of Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) banned under the Stockholm Convention; sources of information; scientifically informed strategies for eliminating POPs; elements of good scientific advice, such as transparency, peer review, and disclosure of conflicts of interest; and information dealing with POPs that decision makers need from the scientific community, including next steps to make such science available and ensure its use on a continuing basis. This workshop was organized by the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program of the Academies' Office of Policy and Global Affairs.
Increasing Capacity for Stewardship of Oceans and Coasts: A Priority for the 21st Century (2007)
Marine environments support the livelihoods, economies, and quality of life for communities around the world. But growth of coastal populations and increasing demands on marine resources are putting the future of ocean and coastal resources at risk through impacts such as overfishing, wetland drainage, climate change, and pollution of coastal waters. Given these demands, it is vital to build capacity--the people, the institutions, and technology and tools--needed to manage ocean resources. Unfortunately, many capacity building efforts focus on specific projects rather than on capacity building as goal unto itself, resulting in activities that are not funded or sustained past the typically short project lifetime. This report finds that the most successful capacity-building efforts meet the needs of a specific locale or region based on periodic assessments and include plans to maintain and expand capacity after the project ends.
Integrating Multiscale Observations of U.S. Waters (2007)
Water is essential to life for humans and their food crops, and for ecosystems. Effective water management requires tracking the inflow, outflow, quantity and quality of ground-water and surface water, much like balancing a bank account. Currently, networks of ground-based instruments measure these in individual locations, while airborne and satellite sensors measure them over larger areas. Recent technological innovations offer unprecedented possibilities to integrate space, air, and land observations to advance water science and guide management decisions. This report concludes that in order to realize the potential of integrated data, agencies, universities, and the private sector must work together to develop new kinds of sensors, test them in field studies, and help users to apply this information to real problems.
Mississippi River Water Quality and the Clean Water Act: Progress, Challenges, and Opportunities (2007)
The Clean Water Act has reduced much of the pollution in the Mississippi River from ''point sources'' such as industries and water treatment plants, but problems stemming from urban runoff, agriculture, and other ''non-point sources'' have proven more difficult to address. Too little coordination among the ten states along the river has left the Mississippi River an ''orphan'' from a water quality monitoring and assessment perspective. Stronger leadership from the U.S. EPA, along with better interstate coordination, is needed to address these problems. Specifically, the EPA should establish a water quality data-sharing system for the length of the river, and work with the states to establish and achieve water quality standards. For this effort, the EPA and the Mississippi River states should draw upon the lengthy experience of federal-interstate cooperation in managing water quality in the Chesapeake Bay.
Nutrient Relationships in Seafood: Selections to Balance Benefits and Risks (2007)
Seafood Choices carefully explores the decision-making process for selecting seafood by assessing the evidence on availability of specific nutrients (compared to other food sources) to obtain the greatest nutritional benefits. The book prioritizes the potential for adverse health effects from both naturally occurring and introduced toxicants in seafood; assesses evidence on the availability of specific nutrients in seafood compared to other food sources; determines the impact of modifying food choices to reduce intake of toxicants on nutrient intake and nutritional status within the U.S. population; develops a decision path for U.S. consumers to weigh their seafood choices to obtain nutritional benefits balanced against exposure risks; and identifies data gaps and recommendations for future research.
Prospects for Managed Underground Storage of Recoverable Water (2007)
Growing demands for water in many parts of the nation are fueling the search for new approaches to sustainable water management, including how best to store water. Society has historically relied on dams and reservoirs, but problems such as high evaporation rates and a lack of suitable land for dam construction are driving interest in the prospect of storing water underground. The National Research Council convened a committee to assess past experiences with managed underground water storage systems and to identify research priorities for development of future underground storage projects. The resulting report concludes that managed underground storage should be considered a valuable tool in a water manager's portfolio and recommends ways to address the unique challenges posed by managed underground storage systems through research and regulatory measures.
Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's Draft Synthesis and Assessment Product 2.4: Trends in Emissions of Ozone Depleting Substances, Ozone Layer Recovery, and Implications for Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure (2007)
The U.S. Climate Change Science Program is in the process of producing 21 draft assessments that investigate changes in the Earth's climate and related systems. These assessments are designed to inform decisionmakers about the scientific underpinnings of a range of environmental issues, such as stratospheric ozone. This National Research Council report reviews one of these assessments, Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP) 2.4, Trends in Emissions of Ozone Depletion Substances, Ozone Layer Recovery, and Implications for Ultraviolet Radiation Exposure. This assessment is noted as being the first-ever attempt to look at the United States contribution to ozone-depleting substances and ozone recovery. Suggestions include clarifying the discussion on climate effects of ozone and revising the approach to estimating U.S. contributions to production, consumption, and emission of ozone-depleting substances. The assessment could also be improved by reorganizing and editing to accommodate intended audiences.
Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2: Climate Projections Based on Emission Scenarios for Long-lived and Short-lived Radiatively Active Gases and Aerosols (2007)
This report reviews a draft of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.2--Climate Projections Based on Emissions Scenarios for long-lived radiatively active trace gases and future climate impacts of short-lived radiatively acitve gases and aerosols. This is the fourth report in a series of six that the National Research Council was asked to review. The review finds that this product provides initial information regarding the influence of certain trace gases and aerosols on future climate and has shown that these short lived types are significant in forcing climate. However, the review finds that the current draft needs revision to make the document easier to read for experts and the general public alike. The document also needs to distinguish between and elaborate on the models used in the draft.
Review of the U.S. Climate Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3: Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate (2007)
This National Research Council (NRC) report reviews a draft of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3, Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate, the 3rd in a series of 21 CCSP products addressing important topics related to climate change. The NRC report finds that the draft provides a good and thorough assessment of the important issues regarding extreme events over North America and how they may change in the context of a changing climate. The continuity and cohesion among the chapters could be improved by greater coordination among the chapter authorship teams, who should also ensure that the tone and scope of the chapters are consistent with the document's Abstract and Executive Summary. The authors should strive to consolidate the sections on tropical cyclones; however, the discussion of drought and ecological impacts could be expanded. Overall, the committee finds that the scope, content, and scientific rigor of the current draft provide a solid basis for the final version of Synthesis and Assessment Product 3.3.
Review of the U.S. Climate Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2: Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making (2007)
This report reviews the U.S. Climate Change Science Programs new draft assessment product on characterizing and communicating uncertainty information for climate change decision making, one of 21 climate change assessment products that the program is developing to meet the requirements of the 1990 Global Change Research Act. Although the draft assessment is effective in discussing methods of characterizing uncertainty, it falls short in several ways. It is written for researchers involved in assessment efforts and will likely be of use to them, but does not address other key audiences, particularly policymakers, decision-makers, and members of the media and general public. In addition, it does not assess the full range of "best practice approaches" for characterizing, incorporating, and communicating uncertainty. These weaknesses were due in part to a change in the prospectus after the process had begun to include new target audiences and a different scope of work.
Sediment Dredging at Superfund Megasites: Assessing the Effectiveness (2007)
Some of the nation's estuaries, lakes and other water bodies contain contaminated sediments that can adversely affect fish and wildlife and may then find their way into people's diets. Dredging is one of the few options available for attempting to clean up contaminated sediments, but it can uncover and re-suspend buried contaminants, creating additional exposures for wildlife and people. At the request of Congress, EPA asked the National Research Council to evaluate dredging as a cleanup technique. The report finds that, based on a review of available evidence, dredging''s ability to decrease environmental and health risks is still an open question. Analysis of pre-dredging and post-dredging at about 20 sites found a wide range of outcomes in terms of surface sediment concentrations of contaminants: some sites showed increases, some no change, and some decreases in concentrations.
Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Mexico: Proceedings of a Workshop, Series--Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making in Developing Countries (2007)
This report contains a collection of papers presented at a workshop in Merida, Mexico --- Strengthening Science-Based Decision Making: Sustainable Management of Groundwater in Mexico. The cross-cutting themes of the workshop were the elements or principles of science-based decision making and the role of the scientific community in ensuring that science is an integral part of the decision making process. Papers included in this volume describe the groundwater resources of Mexico''s Yucatan Peninsula, approaches to managing groundwater in Mexico and governmental and scientific institutions concerned with water resources. Other papers discuss US approaches to managing scarce water resources. Participants in the workshop included representatives from leading scientific and academic institutions, federal state and local governments, non-governmental organizations and businesses.
The New Science of Metagenomics: Revealing the Secrets of Our Microbial Planet (2007)
Although we can't usually see them, microbes are essential for every part of human life-indeed all life on Earth. The emerging field of metagenomics offers a new way of exploring the microbial world that will transform modern microbiology and lead to practical applications in medicine, agriculture, alternative energy, environmental remediation, and many others areas. At the request of the National Science Foundation, five Institutes of the National Institutes of Health, and the Department of Energy, the National Research Council organized a committee to address the current state of metagenomics and identify obstacles current researchers are facing in order to determine how to best support the field and encourage its success. The report recommends the establishment of a ''Global Metagenomics Initiative'' comprising a small number of large-scale metagenomics projects as well as many medium- and small-scale projects to advance the technology and develop the standard practices needed to advance the field.
Water Implications of Biofuels Production in the United States (2007)
National interests in greater energy independence, concurrent with favorable market forces, have driven increased production of corn-based ethanol in the United States and research into the next generation of biofuels. The trend is changing the national agricultural landscape and has raised concerns about potential impacts on the nation''s water resources. To help illuminate these issues, the National Research Council held a colloquium on July 12, 2007 in Washington, DC. This report, based in part on discussions at the colloquium, concludes that if projected future increases in use of corn for ethanol production do occur, the increase in harm to water quality could be considerable from the increases in fertilizer use, pesticide use, and soil erosion associated with growing crops such as corn. Water supply problems could also develop, both from the water needed to grow biofuels crops and water used at ethanol processing plants, especially in regions where water supplies are already overdrawn. The production of ''cellulosic ethanol,''derived from fibrous material such as wheat straw, native grasses, and forest trimmings is expected to have less water quality impact but cannot yet be produced on a commercial scale. To move toward a goal of reducing water impacts of biofuels, a policy bridge will likely be needed to encourage growth of new technologies, best agricultural practices, and the development of traditional and cellulosic crops that require less water and fertilizer and are optimized for fuel production.
Addressing Foodborne Threats to Health: Policies, Practices, and Global Coordination, Workshop Summary (2006)
Foodborne agents have been estimated to cause approximately 76 million illnesses, 325,000 hospitalizations, and 5,200 deaths in the United States each year. More than 250 different foodborne diseases, including both infections and poisonings, have been described, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The U.S. Department of Agriculture estimates costs associated with medical expenses and losses in productivity due to missed work and premature deaths from five major types of foodborne illnesses at 6.9 billion dollars annually. In order to examine issues critical to the protection of the nation's food supply, the Institute of Medicine's Forum on Microbial Threats hosted a public workshop on October 25 and 26, 2005, in Washington, DC to explore existing knowledge and unanswered questions on the nature and extent of foodborne threats to health. This report is a summary of that workshop.
Lost Crops of Africa: Fruits and Vegetables (2006)
This report is the second in a series of three evaluating underexploited African plant resources that could help broaden and secure Africa's food supply. The volume describes the characteristics of 18 little-known indigenous African vegetables (including tubers and legumes) that have potential as food- and cash-crops but are typically overlooked by scientists and policymakers and in the world at large. The book assesses the potential of each vegetable to help overcome malnutrition, boost food security, foster rural development, and create sustainable landcare in Africa. Each species is described in a separate chapter, based on information gathered from and verified by a pool of experts throughout the world. Volume I describes African grains and Volume III African fruits.
Health Implication of Perchlorate Ingestion (2005)
Perchlorate a powerful oxidant used in solid rocket fuels by the military and aerospace industry has been detected in public drinking water supplies of over 11 million people at concentrations of at least 4 parts per billion. High doses of perchlorate can decrease thyroid hormone production by inhibiting the uptake of iodide by the thyroid. Thyroid hormones are critical for normal growth and development of the central nervous system of fetuses and infants. This report evaluates the potential health effects of perchlorate and the scientific underpinnings of the 2002 draft risk assessment issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.
Interim Report of the Committee on Changes in New Source Review Programs for Stationary Sources of Air Pollution (2005)
Requested by Congress in PL 108-7, this interim report from the National Academies studies how the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency's regulatory revisions, that require power plants to implement new pollution controls when making facility upgrades, would affect air quality and public health. Specifically, the report provides background information on the issue and outlines the study committee''s approach. A final report will be issued later this year.
Knowledge-Action Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting: Summary of a Workshop (2005)
The National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability hosted a workshop "Knowledge-Action Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting" in 2004 to discover and distill general lessons about the design of effective systems for linking knowledge with action from the last decade''s experience with the production and application of seasonal to interannual climate forecasts. Workshop participants described lessons they had learned based on their experiences developing, applying, and using decision support systems in the United States, Columbia, Brazil, and Australia. Some of the key lessons discussed, as characterized by David Cash and James Buizer, were that effective knowledge-action systems: define and frame the problem to be addressed via collaboration between knowledge users and knowledge producers; tend to be end-to-end systems that link user needs to basic scientific findings and observations; are often anchored in "boundary organizations" that act as intermediaries between nodes in the system - most notably between scientists and decision makers; feature flexible processes and institutions to be responsive to what is learned; use funding strategies tailored to the dual public/private character of such systems; and require people who can work across disciplines, issue areas, and the knowledge action interface.
Regional Cooperation for Water Quality Improvement in Southwestern Pennsylvania (2005)
The city of Pittsburgh and surrounding area of southwestern Pennsylvania face complex water quality problems, due in large part to aging wastewater infrastructures that cannot handle sewer overflows and stormwater runoff, especially during wet weather. Other problems such as acid mine drainage are a legacy of the region s past coal mining, heavy industry, and manufacturing economy. Currently, water planning and management in southwestern Pennsylvania is highly fragmented; federal and state governments, 11 counties, hundreds of municipalities, and other entities all play roles, but with little coordination or cooperation. The report finds that a comprehensive, watershed-based approach is needed to effectively meet water quality standards throughout the region in the most cost-effective manner. The report outlines both technical and institutional alternatives to consider in the development and implementation of such an approach.
Water Conservation, Reuse, and Recycling: Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop (2005)
In December 2002, a group of specialists on water resources from the United States and Iran met in Tunis, Tunisia, for an interacademy workshop on water resources management, conservation, and recycling. This was the fourth interacademy workshop on a variety of topics held in 2002, the first year of such workshops. Tunis was selected as the location for the workshop because the Tunisian experience in addressing water conservation issues was of interest to the participants from both the United States and Iran. This report includes the agenda for the workshop, all of the papers that were presented, and the list of site visits.
Air Quality Management in the United States (2004)
The implementation of air quality regulations should be less bureaucratic -- with more emphasis on results than process -- and should be designed to protect ecosystems as well as people. The report recommends that The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) use an approach to target groups of pollutants instead of individual ones and that revised or new regulations also should consider how air pollution travels from state to state and across international borders. In addition, improved tracking of emissions is needed to accurately assess what populations are at the highest risk of health problems from pollution and to better measure the progress of pollution-control strategies.
Assessing the National Streamflow Information Program (2004)
Knowledge of the flow of water in the nation's streams and rivers plays a vital role in flood protection, water supply, pollution control, and environmental management.
Biological Confinement of Genetically Engineered Organisms (2004)
"Bioconfinement", as defined by the committee writing the report are a set of biological techniques (such as induced sterility) used to prevent transgenic animals, plants, and microbes from escaping into natural ecosystems and breeding, thus competing with their wild relatives or passing engineered traits to closely related species. Since no single Bioconfinement method is 100 percent effective, the committee recommends that developers of genetically engineered organisms consider using a systematic approach with multiple methods to reduce the chance of confinement failure.
Climate Data Records from Operational Satellites, Interim Report (2004)
The report outlines key elements to consider in designing a program to create climate-quality data from satellites. It examines historical attempts to create climate data records, provides advice on steps for generating, re-analyzing, and storing satellite climate data, and discusses the importance of partnering between agencies, academia, and industry. NOAA will use this report--the first in a two-part study--to draft an implementation plan for climate data records.
Confronting the Nation's Water Problems: The Role of Research (2004)
In order to confront the increasingly severe water problems faced by all parts of the country, the United States needs to make a new commitment to research on water resources. A new mechanism is needed to coordinate water research currently fragmented among nearly 20 federal agencies. Given the competition for water among farmers, communities, aquatic ecosystems and other users as well as emerging challenges such as climate change and the threat of waterborne diseases Confronting the Nation s Water Problems concludes that an additional 70 million dollars in federal funding should go annually to water research. Funding should go specifically to the areas of water demand and use, water supply augmentation, and other institutional research topics. The book notes that overall federal funding for water research has been stagnant in real terms for the past 30 years and that the portion dedicated to research on water use and social science topics has declined considerably.
Direct and Indirect Human Contributions to Terrestrial Carbon Fluxes (2004)
Human-induced climate change is an important environmental issue worldwide, as scientific studies increasingly demonstrate that human activities are changing the Earth s climate. Even if dramatic reductions in emissions were made today, some human-induced changes are likely to persist beyond the 21st century. The Kyoto Protocol calls for emissions reporting that separates out management-induced changes in greenhouse gases from those changes caused by indirect human effects (e.g., carbon dioxide fertilization, nitrogen deposition, or precipitation changes), natural effects, and past practices on forested agricultural lands. This book summarizes a September 2003 workshop where leaders from academia, government and industry came together to discuss the current state of scientific understanding on quantifying direct human-induced change in terrestrial carbon stocks and related changes in greenhouse gas emissions and distinguishing these changes from those caused by indirect and natural effects.
Food Safety and Foodborne Disease Surveillance Systems: Proceedings of an Iranian-American Workshop (2004)
This project provides for four workshops during 2004-2006 to be organized jointly by the NRC and the Academy of Sciences/Academy of Medical Sciences of Iran. The topics of the workshops will be 1) Drought Management, 2) Integrating Foodborne Disease Surveillance and Food Monitoring, 3) Earthquake Science, and 4) Earthquake Engineering. We expect all workshops to be held in Iran but the locations have not been definitely determined and are subject to change. NRC Proceedings will be prepared for any workshops that take place outside of Iran. For those that take place in Iran, the Iranian Academies will prepare Proceedings. The NRC will form an American steering committee for each workshop to guide the choice of American, and in some cases, third party participants. The latter will be chosen in consultation with the Iranian Academies. The Iranian Academies will choose Iranian participants. The NRC committees in consultation with the Iranians will further develop the agendas. This project also calls for the exchanges of individual American and Iranian specialists related to the workshop topics.
Groundwater Fluxes Across Interfaces (2004)
Estimates of groundwater recharge and discharge rates are needed at many different scales for many different purposes. These include such tasks as evaluating landslide risks, managing groundwater resources, locating nuclear waste repositories, and estimating global budgets of water and greenhouse gasses. Groundwater Fluxes Across Interfaces focuses on scientific challenges in (1) the spatial and temporal variability of recharge and discharge, (2) how information at one scale can be used at another, and (3) the effects of groundwater on climate and vice versa.
Indicators for Waterborne Pathogens (2004)
This comprehensive report recommends the development and use of a tool box approach by the U.S Environmental Protection Agency and others for assessing microbial water quality in which available indicator organisms (and-or pathogens in some cases) and detection method(s) are matched to the requirements of a particular application. The report further recommends the use of a phased, three-level monitoring framework to support the selection of indicators and indicator approaches.
Lessons Learned from Workshop on Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Letter Report (2004)
One approach to the problem of carbon dioxide buildup in the Earth's atmosphere is to develop novel ways to sequester CO2 before it enters the atmosphere or to accelerate its removal once it has. In order to determine whether this approach was feasible and practical, DOE asked the NRC help foster the identification of such novel concepts. A three-step project was launched to meet that request: a workshop on novel approaches; an evaluation of proposals in response to a DOE solicitation for developing such concepts; and an assessment of the process including lessons learned. The NRC delivered reports on the first two steps in April and September 2003, and this letter report presents the results of the last step of the project. The report presents an assessment of the workshop, the solicitation process, and the NRC role.
Safety of Genetically Engineered Foods: Approaches to Assessing Unintended Health Effects (2004)
Genetic engineering is one of the newer technologies available to produce desirable traits in plants and animals used for food, but it poses no unique health risks that cannot also arise from conventional breeding and other genetic alteration methods. Any of those methods could result in unintended changes in the composition of the food. The report concludes that all altered foods should be assessed on a case-by-case basis before they are sold to the public to determine whether unintended changes in the composition of the food could adversely affect human health. Surveillance after a food is on the market might also be needed in some cases.
Urbanization, Energy, and Air Pollution in China (2004)
In October 2003, a group of experts met in Beijing under the auspices of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, Chinese Academy of Engineering, and National Academy of Engineering (NAE)/National Research Council (NRC) of the National Academies to continue a dialogue and eventually chart a rational course of energy use in China. This collection of papers is intended to introduce the reader to the complicated problems of urban air pollution and energy choices in China.
Water and Sustainable Development: Opportunities for the Chemical Sciences - A Workshop Report to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable (2004)
The goal is, by the year 2015, to halve the proportion of people unable to reach or afford safe drinking water and the proportion of people without access to basic sanitation. Meeting this challenge will require the talents of chemists and chemical engineers, in addition to economists, city planners, and engineers in other fields.
Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs (2003)
Air Emissions from Animal Feeding Operations: Current Knowledge, Future Needs discusses the need for the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to implement a new method for estimating the amount of ammonia, nitrous oxide, methane, and other pollutants emitted from livestock and poultry farms, and for determining how these emissions are dispersed in the atmosphere. The committee calls for the EPA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture to establish a joint council to coordinate and oversee short - and long-term research to estimate emissions from animal feeding operations accurately and to develop mitigation strategies. Their recommendation was for the joint council to focus its efforts first on those pollutants that pose the greatest risk to the environment and public health.
Bioavailability of Contaminants in Soils and Sediments: Processes, Tools, and Applications (2003)
Bioavailability refers to the extent to which humans and ecological receptors are exposed to contaminants in soil or sediment. The concept of bioavailability has recently piqued the interest of the hazardous waste industry as an important consideration in deciding how much waste to clean up. The rationale is that if contaminants in soil and sediment are not bioavailable, then more contaminant mass can be left in place without creating additional risk. A new NRC report notes that the potential for the consideration of bioavailability to influence decision-making is greatest where certain chemical, environmental, and regulatory factors align. The current use of bioavailability in risk assessment and hazardous waste cleanup regulations is demystified, and acceptable tools and models for bioavailability assessment are discussed and ranked according to seven criteria. Finally, the intimate link between bioavailability and bioremediation is explored. The report concludes with suggestions for moving bioavailability forward in the regulatory arena for both soil and sediment cleanup.
Estimating Climate Sensitivity: Report of a Workshop (2003)
Climate sensitivity is a term used to characterize the response of the climate system to an imposed forcing, and is most commonly used to mean the equilibrium global mean surface temperature change that occurs in response to a doubling of atmospheric carbon dioxide concentration. The purpose of this workshop was to explore current capabilities and limitations in quantifying climate sensitivity and consider whether there are alternative approaches for characterizing climate response that might better suit the information needs of policy makers.
Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services (2003)
The report examines the roles of the public, private, and academic sectors in providing weather and climate services, the barriers to interaction among the sectors, and the impact of scientific and technological advances on the weather enterprise. The report recommends that the National Weather Service should continue to issue general forecasts and provide unrestricted access to observational data and model results, even though private companies also produce weather forecasts. However, the Weather Service should come up with a new process for deciding whether a particular forecast or weather product should be created by the Weather Service or the private sector.
Frontiers in Agricultural Research: Food, Health, Environment, and Communities (2003)
This report is a congressionally mandated review of the US Department of Agriculture s Research, Education, and Economics (REE) mission area, the main engine of publicly funded agricultural research in the United States. A changing social and scientific context of agriculture requires a new vision of agricultural research -- one that will support agriculture as a positive economic, social, and environmental force. REE is uniquely positioned to advance new research frontiers in environment, public health, and rural communities. The report recommends that REE be more anticipatory and strategic in its use of limited resources and guide and champion new directions in research.
Managing Carbon Monoxide Pollution in Meteorological and Topographical Problem Areas (2003)
The regulation of carbon monoxide has been one of the great success stories in air pollution control. While more than 90 percent of the locations with carbon monoxide monitors were in violation in 1971, today the number of monitors showing violations has fallen to only a few, on a small number of days and mainly in areas with unique meteorological and topographical conditions.
Novel Approaches to Carbon Management: Separation, Capture, Sequestration, and Conversion to Useful Products - Workshop Report (2003)
During the workshop, invited participants from a variety of disciplines contributed their expertise and creativity to addressing the problem of carbon management. The ideas developed during the workshop were synthesized into this report by the committee,1 which oversaw the organization and execution of the workshop. However, this workshop summary does not contain any committee conclusions or recommendations, but simply reports on research areas that were identified as promising during the workshop discussions.
The Carbon Dioxide Dilemma: Promising Technologies and Policies (2003)
Growing concerns about climate change partly as a result of anthropogenic carbon dioxide emissions has prompted the research community to assess technologies and policies for sequestration. This report contains presentations of a symposium held in April of 2002. The sequestration options range form ocean disposal, terrestrial disposal in geologic formations, biomass based approaches and carbon trading schemes. The report also presents current efforts at enhanced oil recovery using carbon dioxide and demonstrating its utility. The volume is intended only as introduction to the subject and not the final word.
Environmental Effects of Transgenic Plants: The Scope and Adequacy of Regulation (2002)
Transgenic crops offer the promise of increased agricultural productivity and better quality foods. But they also raise the specter of harmful environmental effects. In this new book, a panel of experts examines: Similarities and differences between crops developed by conventional and transgenic methods Potential for commercialized transgenic crops to change both agricultural and nonagricultural landscapes How well the U.S. government is regulating transgenic crops to avoid any negative effects.
Estimating the Health-Risk-Reduction Benefits of Proposed Air Pollution Regulations (2002)
The U.S Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has estimated that thousands of premature deaths and numerous cases of illness, such as chronic bronchitis and asthma attacks, could be prevented by reducing exposure to air pollution. In response to the EPA's request, the National Research Committee (NRC) convened the Committee on Estimating the Health-Risk-Reduction Benefits of Proposed Air Pollution Regulations.
Marine Biotechnology in the Twenty-First Century: Problems, Promise, and Products(2002)
Several marine based pharmaceuticals are under active commercial development, ecosystem health is high on the public's list of concerns, and aquaculture is providing an ever greater proportion of the seafood on our tables. Nevertheless, marine biotechnology has not yet caught the public's, or investor's, attention. Two workshops, held in October 1999 and November 2001 at the National Academies, were successful in highlighting new developments and opportunities in environmental and biomedical applications of marine biotechnology, and also in identifying factors that are impeding commercial exploitation of these products. This report includes a synthesis of the 2001 sessions addressing drug discovery and development, applications of genomics and proteomics to marine biotechnology, biomaterials and bioengineering, and public policy and essays contributed by the workshop speakers.
Predicting Invasions of Nonindigenous Plants and Plant Pests (2002)
The book analyzes the factors that shape an invader s progress through four stages: arriving through one of many possible ports of entry, reaching a threshold of survival, thriving through proliferation and geographic spread, and ultimate impact on the organism s new environment. The book also reviews approaches to predicting whether a species will become an invader as well as the more complex challenge of predicting and measuring its impact on the environment, a process involving value judgments and risk assessment.
Privatization of Water Services in the United States: An Assessment of Issues and Experience (2002)
In the quest to reduce costs and improve the efficiency of water and wastewater services, many communities in the United States are exploring the potential advantages of privatization of those services. Unlike other utility services, local governments have generally assumed responsibility for providing water services. Privatization of such services can include the outright sale of system assets, or various forms of public-private partnerships from the simple provision of supplies and services, to private design construction and operation of treatment plants and distribution systems. Many factors are contributing to the growing interest in the privatization of water services. Higher operating costs, more stringent federal water quality and waste effluent standards, greater customer demands for quality and reliability, and an aging water delivery and wastewater collection and treatment infrastructure are all challenging municipalities that may be short of funds or technical capabilities. For municipalities with limited capacities to meet these challenges, privatization can be a viable alternative. This book evaluates the fiscal and policy implications of privatization, scenarios in which privatization works best, and the efficiencies that may be gained by contracting with private water utilities.
Riparian Zones: Functions and Strategies for Management (2002)
The Clean Water Act (CWA) requires that wetlands be protected from degradation because of their important ecological functions including maintenance of high water quality and provision of fish and wildlife habitat. However, this protection generally does not encompass riparian areas -- the lands bordering rivers and lakes -- even though they often provide the same functions as wetlands. Growing recognition of the similarities in wetland and riparian area functioning and the differences in their legal protection led the NRC in 1999 to undertake a study of riparian areas, which has culminated in Riparian Areas: Functioning and Strategies for Management. The report is intended to heighten awareness of riparian areas commensurate with their ecological and societal values. The primary conclusion is that, because riparian areas perform a disproportionate number of biological and physical functions on a unit area basis, restoration of riparian functions along America''s waterbodies should be a national goal.
The Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience -- Special Report 264 (2002)
TRB Special Report 264 - Congestion Mitigation and Air Quality Improvement Program: Assessing 10 Years of Experience recommends that Congress retain the sole federal surface transportation program that funds projects to reduce pollution and traffic congestion in areas that must comply with national air quality standards.
A Climate Services Vision: First Steps Toward the Future (2001)
A Climate Services Vision: First Steps Toward the Future describes the types of products that should be provided through a climate service; outlines the roles of the public, private, and academic sectors in a climate service; describe fundamental principles that should be followed in the provision of climate services; and describes potential audiences and providers of climate services.|
A Risk-Management Strategy for PCB-Contaminated Sediments (2001)
This book provides a risk-based framework for developing and implementing strategies to manage PCB-contaminated sediments at sites around the country. The framework has seven stages, beginning with problem definition, continuing through assessment of risks and management options, and ending with an evaluation of the success of the management strategy. At the center of the framework is continuous and active involvement of all affected parties -- particularly communities -- in the development, implementation, and evaluation of the management strategy. A Risk-Management Strategy for PCB-Contaminated Sediments emphasizes the need to consider all risks at a contaminated site, not just human health and ecological effects, but also the social, cultural, and economic impacts. Given the controversy that has arisen at many PCB-contaminated sites, this book provides a consistent, yet flexible, approach for dealing with the many issues associated with assessing and managing the risks at Superfund and other contaminated sites.
Compensating for Wetland Losses Under the Clean Water Act (2001)
Recognizing the importance of wetland protection, the Bush administration in 1988 endorsed the goal of "no net loss" of wetlands. Specifically, it directed that filling of wetlands should be avoided, and minimized when it cannot be avoided. After more than a dozen years, the national commitment to "no net loss" of wetlands has been evaluated. This new book explores the adequacy of science and technology for replacing wetland function and the effectiveness of the federal program of compensatory mitigation in accomplishing the nation''s goal of clean water. It examines the regulatory framework for permitting wetland filling and requiring mitigation, compares the mitigation institutions that are in use, and addresses the problems that agencies face in ensuring sustainability of mitigated wetlands over the long term.
Envisioning the Agenda for Water Resources Research in the Twenty-First Century (2001)
The Water Science and Technology Board (WSTB) perceives a need for a cohesive national water resources research vision for the twenty-first century, including agenda-setting, research coordination, and appropriate levels of public investment in water research. The research agenda presented in this report represents the consensus judgment of the Board about what research is likely to be most important in the early part of the twenty-first century. Research topics have been cast broadly in recognition that the specific focus and emphasis of the studies ought to reflect the circumstances and available knowledge at the time the work is undertaken.
Global Air Quality: An Imperative for Long-Term Observational Strategies (2001)
Addressing complex questions about global air quality change will require a comprehensive research strategy that integrates atmospheric observations covering a wide range of spatial and temporal scales together with diagnostic, global, and regional models. Other key elements in this research framework include inventories of pollutant emissions, meteorological data to describe atmospheric conditions and transport, laboratory measurements to characterize important chemical reactions, and process studies to provide detailed understanding of complex chemical and dynamical phenomena. Some components of this research framework are in a more mature state than others. For instance, significant progress is being made in the development of regional-global chemical transport models and their integration with global climate models.
Marine Protected Areas: Tools for Sustaining Ocean Ecosystems (2001)
Although the ocean-and the resources within-seem limitless, there is clear evidence that human impacts such as overfishing, habitat destruction, and pollution disrupt marine ecosystems and threaten the long-term productivity of the seas. Declining yields in many fisheries and decay of treasured marine habitats, such as coral reefs, has heightened interest in establishing a comprehensive system of marine protected areas (MPAs)-areas designated for special protection to enhance the management of marine resources. Therefore, there is an urgent need to evaluate how MPAs can be employed in the United States and internationally as tools to support specific conservation needs of marine and coastal waters. Marine Protected Areas compares conventional management of marine resources with proposals to augment these management strategies with a system of protected areas. The volume argues that implementation of MPAs should be incremental and adaptive, through the design of areas not only to conserve resources, but also to help us learn how to manage marine species more effectively.
Under the Weather: Climate, Ecosystems, and Infectious Disease (2001)
Since the dawn of medical science, people have recognized connections between a change in the weather and the appearance of epidemic disease. With today's technology, some hope that it will be possible to build models for predicting the emergence and spread of many infectious diseases based on climate and weather forecasts. However, separating the effects of climate from other effects presents a tremendous scientific challenge. This report evaluates our current understanding of the linkages among climate, ecosystems, and infectious disease; it then goes a step further and outlines the research needed to improve our understanding of these linkages. The book also examines the potential for using climate forecasts and ecological observations to help predict infectious disease outbreaks, identifies the necessary components for an epidemic early warning system, and reviews lessons learned from the use of climate forecasts in other realms of human activity.
Clean Coastal Waters: Understanding and Reducing the Effects of Nutrient Pollution (2000)
Environmental problems in coastal ecosystems can sometimes be attributed to excess nutrients flowing from upstream watersheds into estuarine settings. This nutrient over-enrichment can result in toxic algal blooms, shellfish poisoning, coral reef destruction, and other harmful outcomes. All U.S. coasts show signs of nutrient over-enrichment, and scientists predict worsening problems in the years ahead. This book explains technical aspects of nutrient over-enrichment and proposes both immediate local action by coastal managers and a longer-term national strategy incorporating policy design, classification of affected sites, law and regulation, coordination, and communication.
Ecological Monitoring of Genetically Modified Crops: A Workshop Summary (2000)
After 2 days of presentations and discussion, numerous workshop participants expressed the opinion that ecological monitoring of genetically engineered crops is warranted, and they discussed in detail many of the scientific and policy issues that will influence the success or failure of such monitoring. The following is a summary and synthesis of the presentations and discussions in that workshop.
Genetically Modified Pest-Protected Plants: Science and Regulation (2000)
This book explores the risks and benefits of crops that are genetically modified for pest resistance, the urgency of establishing an appropriate regulatory framework for these products, and the importance of public understanding of the issues. The committee critically reviews federal policies toward transgenic products, the 1986 coordinated framework among the key federal agencies in the field, and rules proposed by the Environmental Protection Agency for regulation of plant pesticides.
Natural Attenuation for Groundwater Remediation (2000)
In the past decade, officials responsible for clean-up of contaminated groundwater have increasingly turned to natural attenuation-essentially allowing naturally occurring processes to reduce the toxic potential of contaminants-versus engineered solutions. This saves both money and headaches. To the people in surrounding communities, though, it can appear that clean-up officials are simply walking away from contaminated sites. The committee emphasizes the importance of the public's belief and attitudes toward remediation and provides guidance on involving community stakeholders throughout the clean-up process. The book explores how contamination occurs, explaining concepts and terms, and includes case studies from the Hanford nuclear site, military bases, as well as other sites.
The Future Role of Pesticides in US Agriculture (2000)
The scope of the study was to encompass pesticide use in production systems--processing, storage, and transportation of field crops, fruits, vegetables, ornamentals, fiber, livestock, and the products of aquaculture. Pests to be considered included weeds, pathogens, and vertebrate and invertebrate organisms that must normally be managed to protect crops, livestock, and urban ecosystems. All aspects of pesticide research were to be considered--identification of pest behavior in the ecosystem, pest biochemistry and physiology, resistance management, impacts of pesticides on economic systems, and so on.
Transgenic Plants and World Agriculture (2000)
This report concludes that steps must be taken to meet the urgent need for sustainable practices in world agriculture if the demands of an expanding world population are to be met without destroying the environment or natural resource base. In particular, GM technology, coupled with important developments in other areas, should be used to increase the production of main food staples, improve the efficiency of production, reduce the environmental impact of agriculture, and provide access to food for small-scale farmers. However, concerted, organized efforts must be undertaken to investigate the potential health and environmental effects both positive and negative of GM technologies in their specific applications. These must be assessed against the background of effects from conventional agricultural technologies that are currently in use.
Watershed Management for Potable water Supply: Assessing the New York City Strategy (2000)
In 1997, New York City adopted a mammoth watershed agreement to protect its drinking water and avoid filtration of its large upstate surface water supply. Shortly thereafter, the NRC began an analysis of the agreement''s scientific validity. The resulting book finds New York City's watershed agreement to be a good template for proactive watershed management that, if properly implemented, will maintain high water quality. However, it cautions that the agreement is not a guarantee of permanent filtration avoidance because of changing regulations, uncertainties regarding pollution sources, advances in treatment technologies, and natural variations in watershed conditions. The book recommends that New York City place its highest priority on pathogenic microorganisms in the watershed and direct its resources toward improving methods for detecting pathogens, understanding pathogen transport and fate, and demonstrating that best management practices will remove pathogens.