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Upcoming Events

View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at The National Academies 

Past Events:

Homelessness and Urban Sustainability: Implications of Changes to the US Health System on a Vulnerable Population
November 12, 2014
Washington, DC

Considerations for the Future of Animal Science Research

September 8-9, 2014
Washington, DC

Network for Emerging Leaders in Sustainability: Green Growth: USA-Portugal
June 11, 2014
Washington, DC


Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability

May 20-21, 2014
Washington, DC


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View a list of Sustainability-related meetings at The National Academies

Ongoing Studies

View a list of Sustainability-related ongoing studies at The National Academies
Natural Systems

"For human-dominated ecosystems undergoing degradation from multiple demands and stresses, the goal should be to work toward restoring and maintaining these systems' functions and integrity."  Our Common Journey


Publications                                                                                                     

This report reviews the science that underpins the Bureau of Land Management's oversight of free-ranging horses and burros on federal public lands in the western United States, concluding that constructive changes could be implemented. The Wild Horse and Burro Program has not used scientifically rigorous methods to estimate the population sizes of horses and burros, to model the effects of management actions on the animals, or to assess the availability and use of forage on rangelands. Greater transparency in how science-based methods are used to inform management decisions may help increase public confidence in the Wild Horse and Burro Program.
 
The US Fish and Wildlife Service (FWS) and the National Marine Fisheries Service (NMFS) are responsible for protecting species that are listed as endangered or threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA) and for protecting habitats that are critical for their survival. The US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is responsible for registering or reregistering pesticides under the Federal Insecticide, Fungicide, and Rodenticide Act (FIFRA) and must ensure that pesticide use does not cause any unreasonable adverse effects on the environment, which is interpreted to include listed species and their critical habitats. The agencies have developed their own approaches to evaluating environmental risk, and their approaches differ because their legal mandates, responsibilities, institutional cultures, and expertise differ. Over the years, the agencies have tried to resolve their differences but have been unsuccessful in reaching a consensus regarding their assessment approaches. As a result, FWS, NMFS, EPA, and the US Department of Agriculture asked the NRC to examine scientific and technical issues related to determining risks posed to listed species by pesticides. Specifically, the NRC was asked to evaluate methods for identifying the best scientific data available; to evaluate approaches for developing modeling assumptions; to identify authoritative geospatial information that might be used in risk assessments; to review approaches for characterizing sublethal, indirect, and cumulative effects; to assess the scientific information available for estimating effects of mixtures and inert ingredients; and to consider the use of uncertainty factors to account for gaps in data. This report, which was prepared by the NRC Committee on Ecological Risk Assessment under FIFRA and ESA, is the response to that request.
 
Global Change and Extreme Hydrology: Testing Conventional Wisdom (2011)
The National Research Council Committee on Hydrologic Science held a workshop on January 5-6, 2010, that examined how climate warming translates into hydrologic extremes like floods and droughts. This report summarizes the proceedings of this workshop and presents an overview of the current state of the science in terms of climate change and extreme hydrologic events. It examines the "conventional wisdom" that climate change will "accelerate" the hydrologic cycle, fuel more evaporation, and generate more precipitation, based on an increased capacity of a warmer atmosphere to hold more water vapor. The report also includes descriptions of the changes in frequency and severity of extremes, the ability (or inability) to model these changes, and the problem of communicating the best science to water resources practitioners in useful forums.

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.  

Increasing National Resilience to Hazards and Disasters: The Perspective from the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi: Summary of a Workshop (2011)
Natural disasters are having an increasing effect on the lives of people in the United States and throughout the world. Every decade, property damage caused by natural disasters and hazards doubles or triples in the United States. More than half of the U.S. population lives within 50 miles of a coast, and all Americans are at risk from such hazards as fires, earthquakes, floods, and wind. This report reviews the effects of Hurricane Katrina and other natural and human-induced disasters on the Gulf Coast of Louisiana and Mississippi and to learn more about the resilience of those areas to future disasters. Topics explored in the workshop range from insurance, building codes, and critical infrastructure to private-sector issues, public health, nongovernmental organizations and governance. 

America's Climate Choices (2011)
The National Research Council has released the final report of America's Climate Choices.  It includes a CD of the four panel reports of the America's Climate Choices series as well as materials based on those reports. The report finds that the significant risks that climate change poses to human society and the environment provide a strong motivation to move ahead with substantial response efforts. Current efforts of local, state, and private sector actors are important, but not likely to yield progress comparable to what could be achieved with the addition of strong federal policies that establish coherent national goals and incentives, and that promote strong U.S. engagement in international-level response efforts. The inherent complexities and uncertainties of climate change are best met by applying an iterative risk management framework and making efforts to: significantly reduce greenhouse gas emissions; prepare for adapting to impacts; invest in scientific research, technology development, and information systems; and facilitate engagement between scientific and technical experts and the many types of stakeholders making America's climate choices. 

Book CoverFrontiers in Understanding Climate Change and Polar Ecosystems: Summary of a Workshop (2011) 
Climate change is already causing observable impacts on terrestrial, freshwater and marine ecosystems in polar regions, and as climate continues to change, scientists expect these impacts to grow. However, the inherent complexity of ecosystems and the fact that they are subject to multiple stressors makes understanding the extent of future environmental change difficult. Scientists with expertise in Arctic, Antarctic, marine, and terrestrial environments came together at a recent National Research Council workshop to consider accomplishments in the field to date and identified five frontier questions that could help researchers gain a better understanding of the impact of climate change on polar ecosystems.  

 
There is little dispute within the scientific community that humans are changing Earth's climate on a decadal to century time-scale. By the end of this century, without a reduction in emissions, atmospheric CO2 is projected to increase to levels that Earth has not experienced for more than 30 million years. As greenhouse gas emissions propel Earth toward a warmer climate state, an improved understanding of climate dynamics in warm environments is needed to inform public policy decisions. In Understanding Earth's Deep Past , the National Research Council reports that rocks and sediments that are millions of years old hold clues to how the Earth's future climate would respond in an environment with high levels of atmospheric greenhouse gases.

Book CoverDefending Planet Earth: Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Final Report  (2010)
The United States spends approximately four million dollars each year searching for near-Earth objects (NEOs). The objective is to detect those that may collide with Earth. The majority of this funding supports the operation of several observatories that scan the sky searching for NEOs. This, however, is insufficient in detecting the majority of NEOs that may present a tangible threat to humanity. A significantly smaller amount of funding supports ways to protect the Earth from such a potential collision or “mitigation.” In 2005, a Congressional mandate called for NASA to detect 90 percent of NEOs with diameters of 140 meters of greater by 2020. This report identifies the need for detection of objects as small as 30 to 50 meters as these can be highly destructive.

Landscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth's Surface (2010)
During geologic spans of time, Earth's shifting tectonic plates, atmosphere, freezing water, thawing ice, flowing rivers, and evolving life have shaped Earth's surface features. The resulting hills, mountains, valleys, and plains shelter ecosystems that interact with all life and provide a record of Earth surface processes that extend back through Earth's history. Despite rapidly growing scientific knowledge of Earth surface interactions, and the increasing availability of new monitoring technologies, there is still little understanding of how these processes generate and degrade landscapes. This book identifies nine grand challenges in this emerging field of study and proposes four high-priority research initiatives.

Tsunami Warning and Preparedness: An Assessment of the U.S. Tsunami Program and the Nation's Preparedness Efforts (2010)
The nation's ability to detect and forecast tsunamis has improved since the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, but current efforts are still not sufficient to meet challenges posed by tsunamis generated near land, which leave little time for warning. This National Research Council report reviews progress made to strengthen the nation's tsunami warning and preparation systems, and identifies ways to further improve tsunami preparation efforts. Minimizing future losses of lives and property caused by tsunamis will require persistent progress across the broad spectrum of efforts reviewed in this report: risk assessment, public education, government coordination, detection and forecasting, and warning-center operations.

Understanding the Changing Planet: Strategic Directions for the Geographical Sciences (2010)
From the oceans to continental heartlands, human activities have altered the physical characteristics of Earth's surface. With Earth's population projected to peak at 8 to 12 billion people by 2050 and the additional stress of climate change, it is more important than ever to understand how and where these changes are happening. Innovation in the geographical sciences has the potential to advance knowledge of place-based environmental change, sustainability, and the impacts of a rapidly changing economy and society. In this report, eleven strategic directions are outlined to focus research and leverage new techno logies to harness the potential that the geographical sciences offer.


Near-Earth Object Surveys and Hazard Mitigation Strategies: Interim Report (2009)
The United States is currently the only country with an active, government-sponsored effort to detect and track potentially hazardous near-Earth objects (NEOs). Congress directed NASA to ask the National Research Council to review NASA''s NEOs programs. This interim report addresses some of the issues associated with the survey and detection of NEOs. The final report will contain findings and recommendations for survey and detection, characterization, and mitigation of near-Earth objects based on an integrated assessment of the problem.


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.

Final Report from the NRC Committee on the Review of the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program(2009)
This second and final report from the National Research Council on the Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration (LACPR) Program reviews a 2009 draft report from the U.S. Army Corp's of Engineers on hurricane protection and coastal restoration for southern Louisiana. The National Research Council finds that the lack of a comprehensive protection and restoration plan for southern Louisiana constitutes a major shortcoming in the Corps report. It recommends that, before the end of 2009, the Corps and the State of Louisiana agree on the elements of a long-term plan and on a number of high-priority protection projects (such as levees and zoning plans) and restoration measures (for example, the creation or enhancement of wetlands or barrier island) projects for immediate implementation.

Book CoverLandscapes on the Edge: New Horizons for Research on Earth’s Surface Book (2009)
Chemical, physical, biotic, and human processes constantly reshape Earth’s surface from particles to continents, over timescales from nanoseconds to millions of years. These processes form a complex network of interactions and feedbacks, but these interplays are not well understood, and challenging questions face science and society: How did Earth surface processes interact to create the landscapes of today? How will changing processes shape Earth’s surface in coming years? This report identifies nine grand challenges in the emerging science of Earth surface processes, and proposes four high-priority research initiatives to reach a new understanding of the processes that build the planet’s dynamic surface and underpin its habitability.

Shellfish Mariculture in Drakes Estero, Point Reyes National Seashore, California (2009)
When Drakes Estero, which lies within the Point Reyes National Seashore (PRNS) about 25 miles northwest of San Francisco, California, was designated by Congress in 1976 as Potential Wilderness, it contained a commercial shellfish mariculture operation. Oyster mariculture began in Drakes Estero with the introduction of the nonnative Pacific oyster in 1932, and has been conducted continuously from that date forward. Hence, the cultural history of oyster farming predates the designation of Point Reyes as a National Seashore in 1962. Nevertheless, with the approach of the 2012 expiration date of the current National Park Service (NPS) Reservation of Use and Occupancy (RUO) and Special Use Permit (SUP) that allows Drakes Bay Oyster Company (DBOC) to operate within the estero, NPS has expressed concern over the scope and intensity of impacts of the shellfish culture operations on the estero''s ecosystem. Public debate over whether scientific information justifies closing the oyster farm led to the request for this study to help clarify the scientific issues raised with regard to the shellfish mariculture activities in Drakes Estero.

Achievements of the National Plant Genome Initiative and New Horizons in Plant Biology (2008)
Life on Earth would be impossible without plants. Humans rely on plants for most clothing, furniture, food, as well as for many pharmaceuticals and other products. Plant genome sciences are essential to understanding how plants function and how to develop desirable plant characteristics. For example, plant genomic science can contribute to the development of plants that are drought-resistant, those that require less fertilizer, and those that are optimized for conversion to fuels such as ethanol and biodiesel. The National Plant Genome Initiative (NPGI) is a unique, cross-agency funding enterprise that has been funding and coordinating plant genome research successfully for nine years. Research breakthroughs from NPGI and the National Science Foundation''s Arabidopsis 2010 Project, such as how the plant immune system controls pathogen defense, demonstrate that the plant genome science community is vibrant and capable of driving technological advancement. This report from the National Research Council concludes that these programs should continue so that applied programs on agriculture, bioenergy, and others will always be built on a strong foundation of fundamental plant biology research.

Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Research at NIOSH (2008)
The agriculture, forestry, and fishing sectors are the cornerstone of industries that produce food, fiber, and biofuel. The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) conducts research in order to improve worker safety and health in these sectors. This National Research Council report reviews the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program to evaluate the 1) relevance of its work to improvements in occupational safety and health and 2) the impact of research in reducing workplace illnesses and injuries. The assessment reveals that the program has made meaningful contributions to improving worker safety and health in these fields. To enhance the relevance and impact of its work and fulfill its mission, the NIOSH Agriculture, Forestry, and Fishing Program should provide national leadership, coordination of research, and activities to transfer findings, technologies, and information into practice. The program will also benefit from establishing strategic goals and implementing a comprehensive surveillance system in order to better identify and track worker populations at risk.

Bioinspired Chemistry for Energy--A Workshop Summary to the Chemical Sciences Roundtable (2008)
Faced with the steady rise in energy costs, dwindling fossil fuel supplies, and the need to maintain a healthy environment - exploration of alternative energy sources is essential for meeting energy needs. Biological systems employ a variety of efficient ways to collect, store, use, and produce energy. By understanding the basic processes of biological models, scientists may be able to create systems that mimic biomolecules and produce energy in an efficient and cost effective manner. On May 14-15, 2007 a group of chemists, chemical engineers, and others from academia, government, and industry participated in a workshop sponsored by the Chemical Sciences Roundtable to explore how bioinspired chemistry can help solve some of the important energy issues the world faces today. The workshop featured presentations and discussions on the current energy challenges and how to address them, with emphasis on both the fundamental aspects and the robust implementation of bioinspired chemistry for energy.

Genetically Engineered Organisms, Wildlife, and Habitat A Workshop Summary (2008)
Research is needed to help us to better understand the interactions of genetically engineered organisms (GEOs) - organisms whose genetic material has been modified to produce desirable traits - with their surrounding ecosystems. Today, most GEOs are crops that contain one or two gene traits that improve weed and insect control. However, research and testing are underway in a large variety of plants, microorganisms, and animals to introduce a much broader range of traits with potential benefits to farmers, consumers, and other users. The diversity of traits suggests that future GEOs may interact with the environment in different ways than current GEOs. A quandary for researchers is that possible interactions are best studied in natural settings, but current regulations prohibit the release of many experimental GEOs until their likely impact can be established. Therefore, alternate research approaches are needed. This workshop summarizes discussions on the kind of research that can help to understand possible GEO-ecosystem interactions.

Great Lakes Shipping, Trade, and Aquatic Invasive Species (2008)
Since its opening in 1959, the St. Lawrence Seaway has provided a route into the Great Lakes not only for trade, but also unfortunately for aquatic invasive species (AIS) that have had severe economic and environmental impacts on the region. Prevention measures have been introduced by the governments of Canada and the United States, but reports of newly discovered AIS continue, and only time will tell what impacts these species may have. Pressure to solve the problem has even led to proposals that the Seaway be closed. At the request of the Great Lakes Protection Fund, the National Research Council assembled a committee of experts to identify and explore options that would both enhance the potential for global trade in the Great Lakes region and eliminate further introductions of aquatic invasive species from ships transiting the St. Lawrence Seaway. This report concludes that trade should continue on the St. Lawrence Seaway but with a more effective suite of prevention measures that evolves over time in response to lessons learned and new technologies.

Hydrologic Effects of a Changing Forest Landscape (2008)
Of all the resources that forests produce, water may be the most important-streamflow from forests provides two-thirds of the nation''s clean water supply. Forest managers face increasing pressure to cut trees to increase water supply for human uses, especially in western states where population is rising. However, cutting trees for short term water gains does not guarantee that water will be available in dry seasons, and it can ultimately degrade water quality and increase flooding vulnerability. At the request of the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation and the U.S. Forest Service, the National Research Council convened a committee to examine the present understanding of forest hydrology (the study of how water moves through forests), connections between forest management and attendant hydrologic effects, and directions for future research and management needs to sustain water resources from forests. The report concludes that forest hydrology must advance if it is to deal with today's complexities, and it identifies actions that scientists, forest and water managers, and citizens can take to help sustain water resources from forests.

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.

In the Light of Evolution, Volume II: Biodiversity and Extinction (2008)
The current extinction crisis is of human making, and any favorable resolution of that biodiversity crisis--among the most dire in the 4-billion-year history of the Earth--will have to be initiated by mankind. Little time remains for the public, corporations, and governments to awaken to the magnitude of what is at stake. This book aims to assist that critical educational mission, synthesizing recent scientific information and ideas about threats to biodiversity in the past, present, and projected future. This is the second volume from the In the Light of Evolution series, based on a series of Arthur M. Sackler colloquia, and designed to promote the evolutionary sciences. Each installment explores evolutionary perspectives on a particular biological topic that is scientifically intriguing but also has special relevance to contemporary societal issues or challenges. Individually and collectively, the ILE series aims to interpret phenomena in various areas of biology through the lens of evolution, address some of the most intellectually engaging as well as pragmatically important societal issues of our times, and foster a greater appreciation of evolutionary biology as a consolidating foundation for the life sciences.

Origin and Evolution of Earth--Research Questions for a Changing Planet (2008)
Questions about the origin and nature of Earth and the life on it have long preoccupied human thought and the scientific endeavor. Deciphering the planet''s history and processes could improve the ability to predict catastrophes like earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, to manage Earth's resources, and to anticipate changes in climate and geologic processes. At the request of the U.S. Department of Energy, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, National Science Foundation, and U.S. Geological Survey, the National Research Council assembled a committee to propose and explore grand questions in geological and planetary science. This report captures, in a series of questions, the essential scientific challenges that constitute the frontier of Earth science at the start of the 21st century.

Progress toward Restoring the Everglades: The Second Biennial Review, 2008 (2008)
The Florida Everglades is one of the worlds treasured ecosystems. However, an extensive water-control infrastructure designed to improve flood control and provide water for crops and cities has drastically changed the landscape of the area and resulted in major ecological declines. The Comprehensive Everglades Restoration Plan was launched in 2000 to reverse the decline of the Everglades and create a water system that serves both natural and human needs. This unprecedented multi-billion dollar project has, however, made only scant progress toward achieving restoration goals and is mired in budgeting, planning, and procedural matters. Clear funding priorities; modifications to the project planning, authorization, and funding process; and strong political leadership are needed to expedite Everglades restoration. This report is the second in a congressionally mandated series of biennial evaluations. 

Review of Louisiana Coastal Protection and Restoration--LACPR-- Program (2008)
This report from the National Research Council provides advice and recommendations to improve an Army Corps of Engineers'' draft report for Louisiana coastal protection and restoration. The Corps'' report does not identify clear priorities for project implementation -- including ecosystem restoration, hurricane protection, and nonstructural measures such as buyouts -- nor does it provide evidence that sediment resources for all proposed restoration projects will be available.


Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands: Designing a Comprehensive Risk Assessment (2008)
TRB Special Report 293, Risk of Vessel Accidents and Spills in the Aleutian Islands: Designing a Comprehensive Risk Assessment provides guidance for a comprehensive risk assessment of vessel accidents and spills in the Aleutian Islands. The report examines data related to the risk of oil, chemical, and other hazardous cargo spills from vessel traffic through the Aleutian Islands and identifies key information needed to conduct a comprehensive risk assessment.



Tackling Marine Debris in the 21st Century (2008)
Marine debris from ships and other ocean-based sources including trash and lost fishing gear contributes to the spoiling of beaches, fouling of surface waters and the seafloor, and harm to marine animals, among other effects. Unfortunately, international conventions and domestic laws intended to control marine debris have not been successful, in part because the laws, as written, provide little incentive to change behavior. This report identifies ways to reduce waste, improve waste disposal at ports, and strengthen the regulatory framework toward a goal of zero waste discharge into the marine environment. Progress will depend on a commitment to sustained funding and appropriate institutional support.

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.

Coal: Research and Development to Support National Energy Policy (2007)
Coal provides nearly a quarter of U.S. energy supplies and is used to generate more than half of the nation''s electricity. Although future use of coal may be impacted by regulation of carbon dioxide emissions, coal demand is expected to increase over the next 10-15 years. At the request of Congress, the National Research Council conducted a study to examine R&D funding needs to support such upstream aspects of coal mining as worker safety, environmental protection and reclamation, coal reserve assessments, and mining productivity. The report concludes that an increased R&D investment is needed in these areas and recommends that an additional 144 million dollars should be allocated. This R&D effort should be coordinated through stronger partnerships among federal agencies, with involvement of states and industry.

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. 

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. 

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. 

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.

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. The report recommends ways that governments and organizations can help strengthen marine protection and management capacity, including conducting periodic program assessments, making plans to sustain funding, and developing leadership and political will. 

Minerals, Critical Minerals, and the U.S. Economy (2007)
Minerals are part of virtually every product we use. Common examples include copper used in electrical wiring and titanium used to make airplane frames and paint pigments. The Information Age has ushered in a number of new mineral uses in number of products including cell phones and liquid crystal displays. For some minerals, such as the platinum group metals used to make cataytic converters in cars, there is no substitute. If the supply of any given mineral were to become restricted, consumers and sectors of the U.S. economy could be significantly affected. Risks to minerals supplies can include a sudden increase in demand or the possibility that natural ores can be exhausted or become too difficult to extract. Minerals are more vulnerable to supply restrictions if they come from a limited number of mines, mining companies, or nations. Baseline information on minerals is currently collected at the federal level, but no established methodology has existed to identify potentially critical minerals. This report develops such a methodology and suggests an enhanced federal initiative to collect and analyze the additional data needed to support this type of tool.

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.

National Land Parcel Data: A Vision for the Future (2007)
Land parcel data (also known as cadastral data) provides geographically-referenced information about the rights, interests, and ownership of land and are an important part of the financial, legal and real estate systems of society. The data are used by governments to make decisions about land development, business activities, regulatory compliance, emergency response, and law enforcement. In 1980, a National Research Council report called for nationally-integrated land parcel data, but despite major progress in development of land parcel databases in many local jurisdictions, little progress has been made towards a national system. Therefore, this National Research Council report was sponsored by the Bureau of Land Management, the Census Bureau, the Federal Geographic Data Committee, the Department of Homeland Security, and Environmental Systems Research Institute, to look at the current status of land parcel data in the United States. 

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. 

Options to Ensure the Climate Record from the NPOESS and GOES-R Spacecraft: A Workshop Report (2007)
In June 2006, changes were announced by NOAA that reduced the scope of the next generation of polar and geostationary environmental monitoring satellites, NPOESS and GOES-R. At the request of NASA and NOAA, a committee of the Space Studies Board organized a major workshop, which was held in June 2007 that examined the impacts of these changes, particularly those associated with climate research, and ways to mitigate those impacts. This report presents summaries of discussions at the workshop, which included sessions on the measurements and sensors originally planned for NPOESS and GOES-R; generation of climate data records; mitigation options, including the role of international partners; and cross-cutting issues. A follow-on report, which will include recommended strategies for recovery of lost capabilities, is due in 2008. 

Book CoverSediment 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. Evaluating the potential long-term benefits of dredging will require that the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency step up monitoring activities before, during and after individual cleanups to determine whether it is working there and what combinations of techniques are most effective.

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.

Book CoverThe 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. 

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. 

The Geological Record of Ecological Dynamics: Understanding the Biotic Effects of Future Environmental Change (2005)
In order to answer important questions about ecosystems and biodiversity, scientists can look to the past geological record which includes fossils, sediment and ice cores, and tree rings. Because of recent advances in earth scientists ability to analyze biological and environmental information from geological data, the National Science Foundation and the U.S. Geological Survey asked a National Research Council (NRC) committee to assess the scientific opportunities provided by the geologic record and recommend how scientists can take advantage of these opportunities for the nation s benefit. The committee identified three initiatives for future research to be developed over the next decade: (1) use the geological record as a natural laboratory to explore changes in living things under a range of past conditions, (2) use the record to better predict the response of biological systems to climate change, and (3) use geologic information to evaluate the effects of human and non-human factors on ecosystems. The committee also offered suggestions for improving the field through better training, improved databases, and additional funding. 

ReportA Vision for the International Polar Year 2007-2008 (2004)
In 2007-2008, many nations around the world will host an intense, coordinated field campaign of polar observations, research, and analysis called the "International Polar Year." This report presents an overview of potential science themes, enabling technologies, and public outreach opportunities that can be used to focus International Polar Year on societal needs. The committee recommends that the U.S. scientific community and participating agencies use this opportunity to better understand environmental change and variability in the polar regions; explore new scientific frontiers ranging from the molecular to the planetary scales; and engage the public through varied educations and outreach activities.


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.

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.

Hazards Watch: Reducing the Impacts of Disasters Through Improved Earth Observations: Summary of a Workshop (2004)
How can we use our ability to observe the Earth s natural systems to create a disaster-resilient society and what challenges and limits remain in earth observation efforts? This question was explored by a variety of speakers and participants at the 9th Disasters Roundtable workshop - Hazards Watch: Reducing Disaster Losses through Improved Earth Observations on October 22, 2003. Participants at the workshop discussed opportunities for reducing disaster losses by making the most of the technologies available through Earth observing systems, which produce highly-valuable information for policy makers and emergency managers. 


Partnerships for Reducing Landslide Risk: Assessment of the National Landslide Hazards Mitigation Strategy (2004)
This NRC report commends the USGS for creating a national approach based on partnerships with federal, state, local, and non-governmental entities, and finds that the plan components are the essential elements of a national strategy. The report recommends that the plan should promote the use of risk analysis techniques, and should play a vital role in evaluating methods, setting standards, and advancing procedures and guidelines for landslide hazard maps and assessments. The NRC panel suggests that substantially increased funding will be required to implement a national landslide mitigation program, and that as part of a 10-year program the funding mix should transition from research and guideline development to partnership-based implementation of loss reduction measures. 

Preventing Earthquake Disasters: The Grand Challenge in Earthquake Engineering (2004)
The Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES), administered by the National Science Foundation (NSF), is scheduled to become operational in 2004. These network sites will perform a range of experiments to test and validate complex computer models being developed to simulate the behavior of structures subjected to earthquakes. To assist in this effort, the NSF requested the National Research Council(NRC) to frame the major questions to be addressed by and to develop a long-term research agenda for NEES. Preventing Earthquake Disasters presents an overview of the grand challenge including six critical research problems making up that challenge. The report also provides an assessment of earthquake engineering research issues and the role of information technology in that research effort, and a research plan for NEES.

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.


Living on an Active Earth: Perspectives on Earthquake Science (2003)
The destructive force of earthquakes has stimulated human inquiry since ancient times, yet the scientific study of earthquakes is a surprisingly recent endeavor. Instrumental recordings of earthquakes were not made until the second half of the 19th century, and the primary mechanism for generating seismic waves was not identified until the beginning of the 20th century. This book describes the growth and origins of earthquake science and identifies research and data collection efforts that will strengthen the scientific and social contributions of this exciting new discipline.



Neon: Addressing the Nation's Environmental Challenges (2003)
The report endorses the National Science Foundation''s concept of the National Ecological Observatory Network (NEON) for providing a nationwide network of facilities and infrastructure for ecological and environmental research that is impossible with existing infrastructure. The committee identified six grand challenges in environmental biology - biodiversity, biogeochemical cycles, climate change, ecology and evolution of infectious diseases, invasive species and land and habitat use -- that deserves high priority for research and needs to be addressed on a regional or continental scale. However, the report says that NEON needs a refined focus and a more detailed plan for its implementation to ensure the maximization of its contribution to science and to better fit within the purview of Major Research Equipment and Facilities Construction funding.

Ocean Noise and Marine Mammals (2003)
For the 119 species of marine mammals, as well as for some other aquatic animals, sound is the primary means of learning about the environment and of communicating, navigating, and foraging. The possibility that human-generated noise could harm marine mammals or significantly interfere with their normal activities is an issue of increasing concern. Noise and its potential impacts have been regulated since the passage of the Marine Mammal Protection Act of 1972. Public awareness of the issue escalated in 1990s when researchers began using high-intensity sound to measure ocean climate changes. More recently, the stranding of beaked whales in proximity to Navy sonar use has again put the issue in the spotlight. This book reviews sources of noise in the ocean environment, what is known of the responses of marine mammals to acoustic disturbance, and what models exist for describing ocean noise and marine mammal responses. Recommendations are made for future data gathering efforts, studies of marine mammal behavior and physiology, and modeling efforts necessary to determine what the long- and short-term impacts of ocean noise on marine mammals.

Oil in the Sea III: Inputs, Fates, and Effects (2003)
Since the early 1970s, experts have recognized that petroleum pollutants were being discharged in marine waters worldwide, from oil spills, vessel operations, and land-based sources. Public attention to oil spills has forced improvements. Still, a considerable amount of oil is discharged yearly into sensitive coastal environments.Oil in the Sea provides the best available estimate of oil pollutant discharge into marine waters, including an evaluation of the methods for assessing petroleum load and a discussion about the concerns these loads represent. Featuring close-up looks at the Exxon Valdez spill and other notable events, the book identifies important research questions and makes recommendations for better analysis of -- and more effective measures against -- pollutant discharge.

Science and the Greater Everglades Ecosystem Restoration: An Assessment of the Critical Ecosystem Studies Initiative (2003)
The report reviews a U.S. Department of the Interior research program, finding that it provides key information to support the restoration of the Florida Everglades and to better assess the impact of hydrologic change on the ecosystem. However, the program needs more funding, better management and broader distribution of its findings. The report suggests that strategic investments in Everglades research will increase the chances of reaching restoration goals while reducing overall costs.



Animal Biotechnology: Science-Based Concerns (2002)
The report identifies potential risks associated with advances in animal biotechnology, including the possibility that genetically engineered fish, shellfish or insects might escape and introduce engineered genes into wild populations. The report says there is no evidence that products from cloned livestock are unsafe to eat, but assessing the safety of food from cloned animals is difficult given a lack of data.




Effects of Trawling and Dredging on Seafloor Habitat (2002)
Concerns over the potential ecological effects of fishing have increased with the expansion of fisheries throughout the marine waters of the United States. Effects of Trawling and Dredging on Seafloor Habitat describes how assessment of fishing impacts depends on gear type, number and location of bottom tows, and the physical and biological characteristics of seafloor habitats. Many experimental studies have documented acute, gear--specific effects of trawling and dredging on various types of habitat. These studies indicate that low mobility, long--lived species are more vulnerable to towed fishing gear than short--lived species in areas where the seabed is often disturbed by natural phenomena. Trawling and dredging may also change the composition and productivity of fish communities dependent on seafloor habitats for food and refuge. The scale of these impacts depends on the level of fishing effort. This volume presents color maps of fishing effort for all regions with significant bottom trawl or dredge fisheries -- the first time that such data has been assembled and analyzed for the entire nation.

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.
 


Marine Biotechnology in the Twenty-First Century: Problems, Promise, and Products (2002)
Dramatic developments in understanding the fundamental underpinnings of life have provided exciting opportunities to make marine bioproducts an important part of the U.S. economy. 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.

National Capacity in Forestry Research (2002)
This study, which included a one and one-half day workshop, conducted, and reviewed the expertise, capacity, and future needs of forestry research organizations and current approaches and capacity of natural resource education to meet challenges of the next 10 to 15 years.





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.



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.

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. When filling is permitted, compensatory mitigation must be undertaken; that is, wetlands must be restored, created, enhanced, and, in exceptional cases, preserved, to replace the permitted loss of wetland area and function, such as water quality improvement within the watershed. Gleaning lessons from the mixed results of mitigation efforts to date, the book offers 10 practical guidelines for establishing and monitoring mitigated wetlands. It also recommends that federal, state, and local agencies undertake specific institutional reforms.


Grand Challenges in Environmental Sciences (2001)
Scientists have long sought to unravel the fundamental mysteries of the land, life, water, and air that surround us. But as the consequences of humanity's impact on the planet become increasingly evident, governments are realizing the critical importance of understanding these environmental systems and investing billions of dollars in research to do so. To identify high-priority environmental science projects, this book explores the most important areas of research for the next generation. Nominations for environmental science's "grand" challenges were solicited from thousands of scientists worldwide. Based on their responses, eight major areas of focus were identified -- areas that offer the potential for a major scientific breakthrough of practical importance to humankind, and that are feasible if given major new funding.

Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes: Studies from India, China, and the United States (2001)
As the world's population exceeds an incredible 6 billion people, governments -- and scientists -- everywhere are concerned about the prospects for sustainable development. The science academies of the three most populous countries have joined forces in an unprecedented effort to understand the linkage between population growth and land-use change, and its implications for the future. By examining six sites ranging from agricultural to intensely urban to areas in transition, the multinational study panel asks how population growth and consumption directly cause land-use change, and explore the general nature of the forces driving the transformations. Growing Populations, Changing Landscapes explains how disparate government policies with unintended consequences and globalization effects that link local land-use changes to consumption patterns and labor policies in distant countries can be far more influential than simple numerical population increases. Recognizing the importance of these linkages can be a significant step toward more effective environmental management.

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. Can we use climate and weather forecasts to predict infectious disease outbreaks? Can the field of public health advance from surveillance and response to prediction and prevention? And perhaps the most important question of all: Can we predict how global warming will affect the emergence and transmission of infectious disease agents around the world? Under the Weather 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. The book also reviews voluntary programs, mandatory controls, tax incentives, and other policy options for reducing the flow of nutrients from agricultural operations and other sources.

Ecological Indicators for the Nation (2000)
Environmental indicators, such as global temperatures and pollutant concentrations, attract scientists' attention and often make the headlines. Equally important to policymaking are indicators of the ecological processes and conditions that yield food, fiber, building materials and ecological services such as water purification and recreation.




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




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.


 

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