The nation's attention has recently become focused on climate change. But long before this season's El Niño hit the California coast and the Kyoto Conference made global warming a subject of news reports, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) embarked on a national assessment to focus federal agency research on the regional consequences of climate change. The USGCRP provides a framework for federal agencies to conduct research that increases our understanding of the Earth system and provides sound scientific information for national and international decision- making on global change issues.
The USGCRP member agencies are now engaged in a national assessment of the consequences of climate variability and change for the United States. The main components of this assessment process have been a series of regional workshops, an Aspen Global Change Institute meeting of regional workshop participants that was held July 29–August 7, 1997, to begin to synthesize the workshop results, and a national forum, which was held in Washington, D.C., last November to engage a broader range of stakeholders in defining issues to be addressed in the assessment.