American Geological Institute

Government Affairs Program

NRC Report "Natural Climate Variability on Decade-to-Century Time Scales"

In 1995, The National Research Council (NRC) released an expansive, 600 page report entitled "Climate Variability on Decade-to-Century Time Scales." Although several years old, the report is very timely given the current debate on climate change. The report is based on and includes more than forty papers presented during a workshop of the same title held in Irvine, California in September 1992. The papers focus on atmospheric and ocean observations and modeling, c oupled systems, and proxy data.

The papers in the report illustrate that the relatively short climate record (50-100 years) shows variations that are not unique to this century. Scientists, however, are not sure what causes these changes and are developing models to test various hypoth esis. In a sentiment that has been echoed by many in the scientific community, the report recommends combining observations and models and ensuring long-term continuity and sufficient data quality. Finally, additional research is needed on past climate data to fully understand natural climate variability.

The report provides four main recommendations:

The report was prepared by the Climate Research Committee, chaired by Dr. Eric Barron of Pennsylvania State University, under the direction of the Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate. Additional information and order forms are available from the National Academy Press at 800-624-6242 and on the NAP web site.

Please send any comments or requests for information to the AGI Government Affairs Program at

Contributed by Kasey Shewey, AGI Government Affairs.
Last updated December 3, 1997

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