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Upcoming Events

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

Past Events:

Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability
December 10-11, 2014
Washington, DC

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

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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
Institutions & Indicators

"Indicators are essential to inform society over the coming decades how, and to what extent, progress is being made in navigating a transition toward sustainability. The successful production and use of the knowledge needed for a sustainability transition will require significant strengthening of institutional capacity." 
Our Common Journey


Advancing Strategic Science: A Spatial Data Infrastructure Roadmap for the U.S. Geological Survey(2012)
Science is increasingly driven by data, and spatial data underpin the science directions laid out in the 2007 U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) Science Strategy. A robust framework of spatial data, metadata, tools, and a user community that is interactively connected to use spatial data in an efficient and flexible way—known as a spatial data infrastructure (SDI)—must be available for scientists and managers to find, use, and share spatial data both within and beyond the USGS. Over the last decade, the USGS has conducted breakthrough research that has overcome some of the challenges associated with implementing a large SDI. This report is intended to ground those efforts by providing a practical roadmap to full implementation of an SDI to enable the USGS to conduct strategic science. 

As climate change has pushed climate patterns outside of historic norms, the need for detailed projections is growing across all sectors, including agriculture, insurance, and emergency preparedness planning. This reportemphasizes the needs for climate models to evolve substantially in order to deliver climate projections at the scale and level of detail desired by decision makers, this report finds. Despite much recent progress in developing reliable climate models, there are still efficiencies to be gained across the large and diverse U.S. climate modeling community. Evolving to a more unified climate modeling enterprise-in particular by developing a common software infrastructure shared by all climate researchers and holding an annual climate modeling forum-could help speed progress.

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International Science in the National Interest at the U.S. Geological Survey (2012)
Science at the U.S. Geological Survey is intrinsically global, and from early in its history, the USGS has successfully carried out international projects that serve U.S. national interests and benefit the USGS domestic mission. Opportunities abound for the USGS to strategically pursue international science in the next 5-10 years that bears on growing worldwide problems having direct impact on the United States-climate and ecosystem changes, natural disasters, the spread of invasive species, and diminishing natural resources, to name a few. Taking a more coherent, proactive agency approach to international science-and building support for international projects currently in progress-would help the USGS participate in international science activities more effectively.

Weather Services for the Nation: Becoming Second to None (2012)
During the 1980s and 1990s, the National Weather Service undertook a major, comprehensive modernization effort that succeeded in achieving major improvements for the weather, water, and climate enterprise. Despite this success, accelerating improvements in technology and the science of meteorology and hydrology imply that continuing modernization of the National Weather Service (NWS) is required. This report uses lessons learned from the 1990's modernization process to develop guidance on how best to plan, deploy, and oversee future improvements to the National Weather Service.
A broad and growing literature describes the deep and multidisciplinary nature of the sustainability challenge. A just-completed study by the National Academies' Computer Science and Telecommunications Board, chaired by Deborah Estrin (UCLA) and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF), concludes that there is a clear and critical role for the application of information technology (IT) and for computing research in advancing the nation's and world's sustainability goals.  IT provides an essential bridge between technical and social solutions because it fosters economic, political, and cultural adjustments by enhancing communication and transparency.  Moreover, IT is at the heart of nearly every large-scale socioeconomic system-financial manufacturing, energy, and so on.  Innovation in IT must thus play a vital role if the nation and the world are to achieve a more sustainable future.  The report highlights opportunities for IT innovation and computer science (CS)  research and urges the computing research community to bring its approaches and methodologies to bear in ways that will have significant, measurable impact on sustainability.
The National Weather Service Modernization and Associated Restructuring: A Retrospective Assessment (2011)
The Modernization and Associated Restructuring (MAR) of the National Weather Service (NWS) was a large and complex re-engineering of a federal agency. The process lasted a decade and cost an estimated $4.5 billion. The result was greater integration of science into weather service activities and improved outreach and coordination with users of weather information. The MAR created a new, modernized NWS, and, significantly, it created a framework that will allow the NWS to keep up with technological changes in a more evolutionary manner. This report presents the first comprehensive assessment of the execution of the MAR and its impact on the provision of weather services in the United States. This report provides an assessment that addresses the past modernization as well as lessons learned to support future improvements to NWS capabilities.
Improving Health in the United States: The Role of Health Impact Assessment (2011)
Factoring health and related costs into decision making is essential to confronting the nation's health problems and enhancing public well-being. Some policies and programs historically not recognized as relating to health are belived or known to have important health consequences. For example, public health has been linked to an array of policies that determine the quality and location of housing, availability of public transportation, land use and street connectivity, agricultural practices and the availability of various types of food, and development and location of businesses and industry. This report offers guidance to officials in the public and private sectors on conducting HIA's to evaluate public health consequences of proposed decisions -- such as those to build a major roadway, plan a city's growth, or develop national agricultural policies -- and suggest actions that could minimize adverse health impacts and optimize beneficial ones.
Climate Change Education Goals, Audiences, and Strategies: A Workshop Summary (2011) 
The global scientific and policy community now unequivocally accepts that human activities cause global climate change. Although information on climate change is readily available, the nation still seems unprepared or unwilling to respond effectively to climate change, due partly to a general lack of public understanding of climate change issues and opportunities for effective responses. Congress, in its 2009 and 2010 appropriation process, requested that the National Science Foundation create a program in climate change education to provide funding to external grantees to improve climate change education in the United States. To support and strengthen these education initiatives, the Board on Science Education of the National Research Council created the Climate Change Education Roundtable. This report is a summary of the discussions and presentations from the first workshop, held October 21 and 22, 2010.

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. 

Assessment of Intraseasonal to Interannual Climate Prediction and Predictability (2010)
Accurate forecasts of climate conditions over time periods of weeks to a few years-called intraseasonal to interannual timescales-can help people plan agricultural activities, mitigate drought, and manage energy resources. However, current forecast systems have limited ability on these timescales because models for such climate forecasts must take into account complex interactions among the ocean, atmosphere, and land surface, as well as processes that can be difficult to represent realistically. To improve the quality of intraseasonal to interannual forecasts, this report recommends the continued development of tools used in forecasting, and sets specific research goals for improving understanding of sources of predictability. In addition, the report also suggests best practices to improve methods of making and disseminating forecasts to make the information more accessible to decision-makers and researchers.

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.

ReportEvaluation of Safety and Environmental Metrics for Potential Application at Chemical Agent Disposal Facilities (2009)
In the United States, destruction of the chemical weapons stockpile began in 1990, when Congress mandated that the Army and its contractors destroy the stockpile while ensuring maximum safety for workers, the public, and the environment. The destruction program has proceeded without serious exposure of any worker or member of the public to chemical agents, and risk to the public from a storage incident involving the aging stockpile has been reduced by more than 90 percent from what it was at the time destruction began on Johnston Island and in the continental United States. Even so, the Army and its contractors are desirous of further improvement. To this end, the Chemical Materials Agency (CMA) asked the NRC to assist by reviewing CMA's existing safety and environmental metrics and making recommendations on which additional metrics might be developed to further improve its safety and environmental programs.

ReportGlobal 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.

ReportGuidance for Establishing Crisis Standards of Care for Use in Disaster Situations: A Letter Report (2009)
The influenza pandemic caused by the 2009 H1N1 virus underscores the immediate and critical need to prepare for a public health emergency in which thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of people suddenly require and seek medical care in communities across the United States. At the request of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Institute of Medicine convened a committee to develop guidance for crisis standards of care that should apply in disaster situations both naturally occurring and manmade under scarce resource conditions. This report is focused on articulating current concepts and guidance that can assist state and local public health officials, healthcare facilities, and professionals in the development of systematic and comprehensive policies and protocols for crisis standards of care in disasters where resources are scarce.

ReportLetter 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.

ReportLetter 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.


ReportTransforming Agricultural Education for a Changing World (2009)
Many of today's major challenges--including energy security, national security, human health, and climate change--are closely tied to the global food and agriculture enterprise. Academic institutions with programs in agriculture are in a perfect position to foster the next generation of leaders and professionals needed to address these challenges, but many institutions have struggled to keep pace with changing times. At the request of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the W.K. Kellogg Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Farm Foundation, and the American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture, the National Research Council convened a committee to examine ways to effect change in undergraduate agricultural education to attract top students and prepare them for the challenges of tomorrow. The committee's report identifies nine steps institutions can take to better meet the needs of students, employers, and the broader society.

ReportUncertainty 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.

ReportEarth Observations from Space--The First 50 Years of Scientific Achievements (2008)
Over the past 50 years, thousands of satellites have been sent into space on missions to collect data about the Earth. Today, the ability to forecast weather, climate, and natural hazards depends critically on these satellite-based observations. At the request of NASA, the National Research Council convened a committee to examine the scientific advances that have resulted from space-based observations. This report describes how the ability to view the entire globe at once, uniquely available from satellite observations, has revolutionized Earth studies and ushered in a new era of multidisciplinary Earth sciences. In particular, the ability to gather satellite images frequently enough to create "movies" of the changing planet is improving the understanding of Earth''''s dynamic processes and helping society to manage limited resources and environmental challenges. The report concludes that continued Earth observations from space will be required to address scientific and societal challenges of the future.

ReportScience and Decisions: Advancing Risk Assessment (2008)
Risk assessments evaluate potential adverse health effects posed by harmful chemicals found in the environment and inform a range of decisions from protecting air and water to ensuring food, drug, and consumer product safety. Unfortunately, the risk assessment process is bogged down by challenges to its timeliness and credibility, a lack of adequate resources, and disconnects between the available scientific data and the information needs of decision-makers. In light of these challenges, EPA asked the National Research Council to conduct an independent study on improvements that could be made to risk assessment. The report concludes that EPA's overall concept of risk assessment, which is based on the National Research Council's 1983 Red Book, should be retained but that a number of significant improvements are needed to advance the use of risk assessment in decision making.

ReportState of the USA Health Indicators: Letter Report (2008)
Researchers, policymakers, sociologists and doctors have long asked how to best measure the health of a nation, yet the challenge persists. The nonprofit State of the USA, Inc (SUSA) is taking on this challenge, demonstrating how to measure the health of the United States. The organization is developing a new website intended to provide reliable and objective facts about the U.S. in a number of key areas, including health, and to provide an interactive tool with which individuals can track the progress made in each of these areas. In 2008, SUSA asked the Institute of Medicine's Committee on the State of the USA Health Indicators to provide guidance on 20 key indicators to be used on the organization's website that would be valuable in assessing health. The selected indicators reflect the overall health of the nation and the efficiency and efficacy of U.S. health systems.

ReportAnalysis 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.

ReportAssessment of the NASA Applied Sciences Program (2007)
Remote sensing data and models from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) are the basis for a wide spectrum of scientific research endeavors and are key inputs to many public and private services. The NASA Applied Sciences Program (ASP) and its precursors have been tasked with ensuring the extension of NASA Earth observation data and associated research into practical applications for society through external partnerships. With approximately five years having elapsed under the current ASP structure, and a growing government-wide emphasis on societal benefits in its Earth observing programs, NASA and the ASP leadership asked the National Research Council to assess ASP's approach in extending NASA research results to practical, societal applications. The report recommends that ASP partnerships focus not only federal agencies but also on direct engagement of the broader community of users. The report also recommends that ASP enhance communication and feedback mechanisms with its partners, with the end users and beneficiaries of NASA data and research, and with the NASA organization.

ReportCitizen Engagement in Emergency Planning for a Flu Pandemic- A Summary of the October 23, 2006 Workshop of the Disasters Roundtable (2007)
Although human cases of avian influenza to date have been rare, there is growing concern that an influenza pandemic may arise from the mutation of avian influenza strains and subsequent transmission among humans. On October 23, 2006, the Disasters Roundtable of the National Academies in cooperation with the Board on Population Health and Public Health Practice of the Institute of Medicine (IOM) convened a workshop on Citizen Engagement in Emergency Planning for a Flu Pandemic to explore the roles and needs of the citizenry in pandemic influenza preparedness planning. Panelists stressed the importance of citizen engagement in all stages of pandemic preparation and response. Topics of discussion included national and local preparedness, citizen education and cooperation, the importance of communication, and possible pandemic scenarios which highlighted key issues of citizen involvement. This report is a summary of that discussion.

ReportCLEANER and NSF's Environmental Observatories (2007)
Degradation of the nation's water resources threatens the health of humans and the functioning of natural ecosystems. To help better understand the causes of these adverse impacts and how they might be more effectively mitigated, especially in urban and human-stressed aquatic systems, the National Science Foundation (NSF) has proposed the establishment of a Collaborative Large-scale Engineering Analysis Network for Environmental Research (CLEANER). This program would provide a platform for near-real-time and conventional data collection and analysis; improve understanding and prediction of processes controlling large-scale environmental and hydrologic systems; help explain human-induced impacts on the environment; and help identify more effective adaptive management approaches to mitigate adverse impacts of human activities on water and land resources. At NSF's request, the National Academies undertook a review this proposed program. The resultant report recommends that NSF proceed with its planning, implementation, and intra- and interagency coordination activities for the program, as a successful environmental observatory network could transform the environmental engineering profession and increase its already considerable contributions to society.

ReportCoal: 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 and 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 and 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.

ReportEnvironmental Data Management at NOAA: Archiving, Stewardship, and Access (2007)
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration collects, manages, and disseminates a wide range of climate, weather, ecosystem and other environmental data that are used by scientists, engineers, resource managers, policy makers, and others in the United States and around the world. The increasing volume and diversity of NOAA's data holdings - which include everything from satellite images of clouds to the stomach contents of fish - and a large number of users present NOAA with substantial data management challenges. NOAA asked the National Research Council to help identify the observations, model output, and other environmental information that must be preserved in perpetuity and made readily accessible, as opposed to data with more limited storage lifetime and accessibility requirements. This report offers nine general principles for effective environmental data management, along with a number of more specific guidelines and examples that explain and illustrate how these principles could be applied at NOAA.

ReportEnvironmental Impacts of Wind Energy Projects (2007)
There has been rapid growth in the construction of wind-powered electricity generating facilities over the past 25 years in the United States. Wind-energy facilities emit no atmospheric pollutants and are driven by a renewable source, addressing multiple environmental concerns such as air quality and climate change. But the expansion of such facilities can carry adverse environmental impacts. As wind energy development continues to expand, federal, state and local agencies should adopt a coordinated approach to evaluating the planning, regulation, and location of wind-energy projects. This National Research Council report provides a framework that can help in evaluating tradeoffs between the benefits of new wind-energy projects and risks of adverse environmental impacts before projects begin.

ReportEnvironmental 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.

ReportExploration 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.

ReportGreen Healthcare Institutions: Health, Environment, and Economics, Workshop Summary (2007)
The Institute of Medicine's Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine held a workshop and released the summary entitled, Green Healthcare Institutions-- Health, Environment, and Economics. The workshop focused on the environmental and health impacts related to the design, construction, and operation of healthcare facilities, which are part of one of the largest service industries in the United States. The workshop summary captures the discussions and presentations by the speakers and participants. They identified the areas in which additional research is needed, the processes by which change can occur, and the gaps in knowledge.

ReportImplementing 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 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's Office of Policy and Global Affairs.

ReportImproving Disaster Management: The Role of IT in Mitigation, Preparedness, Response, and Recovery (2007)
Information technology (IT) has the potential to play a critical role in managing natural and human made disasters. Damage to communications infrastructure, along with other communications problems exacerbated the difficulties in carrying out response and recovery efforts following Hurricane Katrina. To assist government planning in this area, the Congress, in the E-government Act of 2002, directed the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) to request the NRC to conduct a study on the application of IT to disaster management. This report characterizes disaster management providing a framework for considering the range and nature of information and communication needs; presents a vision of the potential for IT to improve disaster management; provides an analysis of structural, organizational, and other non-technical barriers to the acquisition, adoption, and effective use of IT in disaster; and offers an outline of a research program aimed at strengthening IT-enabled capabilities for disaster management.

ReportModels in Environmental Regulatory Decision Making (2007)
Many regulations issued by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, EPA, are based on the results of computer models. Models help the EPA explain environmental phenomena in settings where direct observations are limited or unavailable, and anticipate the effects of agency policies on the environment, human health and the economy. Given the critical role played by models, the EPA asked the National Research Council to assess scientific issues related to the agency''s selection and use of models in its decisions. The report recommends a series of guidelines and principles for improving agency models and decision-making processes. The centerpiece of the report''s recommended vision is a life-cycle approach to model evaluation which includes peer review, corroboration of results, and other activities. This will enhance the agency''s ability to respond to requirements from a 2001 law on information quality and improve policy development and implementation.

ReportNational 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. ||

ReportOptions 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.

ReportPEPFAR Implementation-Progress and Promise (2007)
In 2003 Congress passed the United States Leadership against HIV-AIDS, Tuberculosis, and Malaria Act, which established a five-year, 15 billion dollar initiative to help countries around the world respond to their AIDS epidemics. The initiative is generally referred to by the title of the five-year strategy required by the act, PEPFAR, or the President''s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief. A requirement of the act which established PEPFAR was that the Institute of Medicine, IOM, provide Congress with an evaluation of the initiative''s progress three years after the passage of the Leadership Act. In response, the IOM Committee for the Evaluation of PEPFAR Implementation examined the initiative, including visits to most of the fifteen PEPFAR focus countries. Overall, the Committee concludes that PEPFAR has made a promising start, but it warns that there is an enduring need for U.S. leadership in the effort to respond to the HIV-AIDS pandemic. This report details the Committee''s recommendations for PEPFAR.

ReportProspective Evaluation of Applied Energy Research and Development at DOE: Phase Two (2007)
Over the past several years, Federal agencies, largely at the direction of Congress, have expanded efforts to measure the performance of their activities. Through the Government Performance and Results Act, GRPA, and other mandates, the agencies have developed indicators of program performance. At the request of Congress, the NRC has undertaken a series of studies using quantitative indicators to evaluate the effectiveness of applied energy research and development at DOE. This is the third report in the series and presents the results of the application of benefits evaluation methodology developed in the second study to six research and development programs within DOE.

ReportPutting People on the Map: Protecting Confidentiality with Linked Social-Spatial Data (2007)
Precise, accurate spatial data may revolutionize some fields of social science by opening new questions for investigation and, by linking to social and behavioral data, improving understanding of human behavior in its environmental context. Norms of science and government favor open access to all scientific data. However, sharing precise spatial data increases the risk that human research participants, who have provided some information under a promise of confidentiality, could be identified by a secondary data user who would thus break the promise. Several technical approaches to reducing the risk of identification have potential, but none yet adequately resolves conflicts among the objectives of data linkage, quality, access, and confidentiality protection. The report concludes that institutional approaches, involving establishing tiers of risk and access, will be required to balance these objectives. It offers recommendations for education, training, research, and practice to researchers, professional societies, federal agencies, institutional review boards, and data stewards.

ReportScience and Technology in Kazakhstan: Current Status and Future Prospects (2007)
Kazakhstan has an ambitious program to increase its technological competitiveness in the global market place during the next few years, but achieving success will depend in large measure on the effectiveness of upgraded science and technology capabilities. This report identifies important opportunities and limitations in the education system, research and development institutions, production companies, and service organizations to help governmental organizations in Kazakhstan with strong interests in science and technology chart the future course of the country.

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.

ReportSustainable 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.

ReportTools and Methods for Estimating Populations at Risk from Natural Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Crises (2007)
Worldwide, millions of people are displaced annually because of natural or industrial disasters or social upheaval. Reliable data on the numbers, characteristics, and locations of these populations can bolster humanitarian relief efforts and recovery programs. Using sound methods for estimating population numbers and characteristics is important for both industrialized and developing nations. Ensuring that the data are geographically referenced for projection onto maps is essential. However, good data alone are insufficient. Adequate staff training and strong organizational and political desire to maintain and use the information are also required. Tools and Methods for Estimating Populations at Risk from Natural Disasters and Complex Humanitarian Crises, reviews the main methods and tools for making estimates of subnational populations and makes several recommendations to improve the collection and the use of population data for emergency response and development.

Book CoverToxicity Testing in the Twenty-first Century--A Vision and a Strategy (2007)
Advances in molecular biology and toxicology are paving the way for major improvements in the evaluation of the hazards posed by the large number of chemicals found at low levels in the environment. The National Research Council was asked by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to review the state of the science and create a far-reaching vision for the future of toxicity testing. The report finds that developing, improving, and validating new laboratory tools based on recent scientific advances could significantly improve our ability to understand the hazards and risks posed by chemicals. This new knowledge would lead to much more informed environmental regulations and dramatically reduce the need for animal testing because the new tests would be based on human cells and cell components.

ReportLinking Knowledge with Action for Sustainable Development: The Role of Program Management-Summary of a Workshop (2006)
This report summarizes a workshop organized by the National Academies Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability. The workshop brought together a select group of program managers from the public and private sectors to discuss specific cases of linking knowledge to action in a diverse set of integrated observation, assessment, and decision support systems. Workshop discussions explored a wide variety of experiments in harnessing science and technology to goals of promoting development and conserving the environment. Participants reflected on the most significant challenges that they have faced when trying to implement their programs and the strategies that they have used to address them successfully. The report summarizes discussions at the workshop, including common themes about the process of linking knowledge with actions for sustainable development that emerged across a wide range of cases, sectors, and regions.

ReportDecision Making for the Environment: Social and Behavioral Science Research Priorities (2005)
With the growing number, complexity, and importance of environmental problems come demands to include a full range of intellectual disciplines and scholarly traditions to help define and eventually manage such problems more effectively. This report is the result of a 2-year effort by 12 social and behavioral scientists, scholars, and practitioners. The report sets research priorities for the social and behavioral sciences as they relate to several different kinds of environmental problems.

ReportAssessing 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.

ReportEliminating Health Disparities: Measurement and Data Needs (2004)
Disparities in health and health care across racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic backgrounds in the United States are well documented. The reasons for these disparities are, however, not well understood. Current data available on race, ethnicity, SEP, and accumulation and language use are severely limited. The report examines data collection and reporting systems relating to the collection of data on race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic position and offers recommendations.

ReportEnvironmental Health Indicators: Bridging the Chasm of Public Health and the Environment (2004)
The Roundtable on Environmental Health Sciences, Research, and Medicine convened a workshop on Environmental Health Indicators: Bridging the Chasm of Public Health and the Environment as an opportunity to discuss current efforts by industry, private, global, and U.S. federal and state governments. The goal of the workshop was to look into monitoring systems of other nations; to consider the need for a national environmental health monitoring system; to foster a dialogue on the steps for establishing a nationwide monitoring system; and to explore how a national system will fit into current exposure and disease monitoring programs. This report provides a summary of the workshop discussions.

ReportFood 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.

ReportIndicators 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.

ReportBeyond Productivity: Information, Technology, Innovation, and Creativity (2003)
Computer science has drawn from and contributed to many disciplines and practices since it emerged as a field in the middle of the 20th century. Those interactions, in turn, have contributed to the evolution of information technology new forms of computing and communications, and new applications that continue to develop from the creative interactions between computer science and other fields.

ReportHealth Professions Education: A Bridge to Quality (2003)
The Institute of Medicine study Crossing the Quality Chasm (2001) recommended that an interdisciplinary summit be held to further reform of health professions education in order to enhance quality and patient safety. This report is the follow up to that summit, held in June 2002, where 150 participants across disciplines and occupations developed ideas about how to integrate a core set of competencies into health professions education.

ReportUnderstanding Others, Educating Ourselves: Getting More from International Comparative Studies in Education (2003)
The increasing scrutiny of earlier studies has revealed their limitations and the consequent need for improvement in the planning, execution, and dissemination of international comparative research. The lack of an adequate system of education indicators to inform education policy making has become increasingly apparent. Data are not collected regularly, systematically, or with enough coordination either to satisfy natural curiosity about education systems around the world or to answer the questions of researchers and policy makers about changes over time in education in a variety of countries. Trend data are needed on many aspects of education.

ReportCommunity and Quality of Life: Data Needs for Informed Decision Making (2002)
"Quality of life" . . . "livability" . . . "sense of place." Communities across America are striving to define these terms and to bring them to life, as they make decisions about transportation systems and other aspects of planning and development. This report discusses important concepts that undergird community life and offers recommendations for collaborative planning across space and time. 

ReportDown to Earth: Geographical Information for Sustainable Development in Africa (2002)
In 1992, world leaders adopted Agenda 21, the work program of the 1992 U.N. Conference on Environment and Development. This landmark event provided a political foundation and action items to facilitate the global transition toward sustainable development. The international community marked the tenth anniversary of this conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, in August 2002. Down to Earth, a component of the U.S. State Department's Geographic Information for Sustainable Development project for the World Summit, focuses on sub-Saharan Africa with examples drawn from case-study regions where the U.S. Agency for International Development and other agencies have broad experience. Although African countries are the geographic focus of the study, the report has broader applicability. Down to Earth summarizes the importance and applicability of geographic data for sustainable development and draws on experiences in African countries to examine how future sources and applications of geographic data could provide reliable support to decision-makers as they work towards sustainable development. The committee emphasizes the potential of new technologies, such as satellite remote-sensing systems and geographic information systems, that have revolutionized data collection and analysis over the last decade.

ReportEffectiveness and Impact of Corporate Average Fuel Economy (CAFE) Standards (2002)
Since CAFE standards were established 25 years ago, there have been significant changes in motor vehicle technology, globalization of the industry, the mix and characteristics of vehicle sales, production capacity, and other factors. This volume evaluates the implications of these changes as well as changes anticipated in the next few years, on the need for CAFE, as well as the stringency and-or structure of the CAFE program in future years.

ReportKey Transportation Indicators (2002)
The purpose of the Workshop on Transportation Indicators was to discuss issues relating to transportation indicators and provide the Bureau of Transportation Statistics with new ideas for issues to address. Most statistical agencies produce monthly, quarterly, or annual indicators in their areas.

ReportSustainable Federal Facilities: A Guide to Integrating Value Engineering, Life-Cycle Costing, and Sustainable Development (2001)
Sustainable development as an integrated concept for buildings seeks to reverse the trends in the architectural and engineering communities that focus on first costs and treat each discipline''s contribution to the whole building as separate, independent efforts. Sustainable development integrates all of the design disciplines so that limited resources are efficiently directed toward the goal of meeting user needs without setting one program need against another. The precepts for sustainability are that all resources are limited and it is less expensive short and long term to build in harmony with the environment. The primary objective of this study, therefore, was to develop a framework to show how federal agencies can use value engineering and life-cycle costing to support sustainable development for federal facilities and meet the objectives of Executive Order 13123.

ReportEcological 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.