This report from America's National Science Foundation (NSF) outlines recent research on climate change, with dozens of reports of findings on sky, sea, ice, land, life and people. It also includes the May 2014 report of a NASA study indicating that the loss of some Antarctic glaciers appears unstoppable.
Human-caused changes to the climate system, and their consequences, provide much of the impetus for the National Science Foundation's climate change research. Researchers funded by NSF have discovered signs of a changing climate in nearly every corner of the globe, from the icy expanses of the polar regions of Earth to its equatorial ecosystems. Our planet's climate affects—and is affected by—the sky, land, ice, sea, life, and the people found on Earth. To piece together the entire puzzle of climate change—what we know, what we still have to learn and what humankind can do to prepare for the future—we must study all of the physical, natural, and human systems that contribute to, and interact with, Earth's climate system.
As researchers work together to solve the climate puzzle, they are revolutionizing the way we understand the Earth system as a whole. Researchers have realized that they must reach across disciplinary boundaries to study questions that extend beyond any one field of science or engineering. In fact, because of the complexity of Earth's climate, this research involves contributions from nearly every field of science, math, and engineering.
In no area is NSF's contribution more important—or more influential—than in interdisciplinary research. NSF responds to the needs of research communities by supporting teams that include experts from multiple disciplines. NSF is unique among other government agencies with a science mission because NSF funds research, infrastructure, and education across all disciplines of science and engineering. With its emphasis on supporting pioneering research, NSF is well positioned to support the broad federal agency response to climate change. The basic research NSF funds is essential to creating a vibrant and strong foundation for the important work of the mission agencies that are responsible for the U.S. government's monitoring of, and response to, climate change and variability. Basic research underpins what we currently know about Earth's changing climate, and will continue to play a vital role in the discovery of new knowledge and the development of tools to help humankind respond to the effects of global climate change. NSF must maintain its steadfast support of the American academic system's groundbreaking research and world-class educational programs in order to continue providing the next-generation of people and ideas that will help the United States and the world meet the challenges imposed by global climate change.
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