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                                                       Calendar No. 514
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     108-263

======================================================================

 
                   ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH ACT

                               ----------                              

                              R E P O R T

                                 of the

           COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                                   on

                                S. 1164





                  May 13, 2004.--Ordered to be printed



       SENATE COMMITTEE ON COMMERCE, SCIENCE, AND TRANSPORTATION

                      one hundred eighth congress

                             second session

                     JOHN McCAIN, Arizona, Chairman

TED STEVENS, Alaska                  ERNEST F. HOLLINGS, South Carolina
CONRAD BURNS, Montana                DANIEL K. INOUYE, Hawaii
TRENT LOTT, Mississippi              JOHN D. ROCKEFELLER IV, West 
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, Texas          Virginia
OLYMPIA J. SNOWE, Maine              JOHN F. KERRY, Massachusetts
SAM BROWNBACK, Kansas                JOHN B. BREAUX, Louisiana
GORDON SMITH, Oregon                 BYRON L. DORGAN, North Dakota
PETER G. FITZGERALD, Illinois        RON WYDEN, Oregon
JOHN ENSIGN, Nevada                  BARBARA BOXER, California
GEORGE ALLEN, Virginia               BILL NELSON, Florida
JOHN E. SUNUNU, New Hampshire        MARIA CANTWELL, Washington
                                     FRANK LAUTENBERG, New Jersey

           Jeanne Bumpus, Staff Director and General Counsel

                   Rob Freeman, Deputy Staff Director

                  Robert W. Chamberlin, Chief Counsel

      Kevin D. Kayes, Democratic Staff Director and Chief Counsel

                Gregg Elias, Democratic General Counsel

                                  (ii)



                                                       Calendar No. 514
108th Congress                                                   Report
                                 SENATE
 2d Session                                                     108-263

======================================================================


                   ABRUPT CLIMATE CHANGE RESEARCH ACT

                                _______
                                

                  May 13, 2004.--Ordered to be printed

                                _______
                                

       Mr. McCain, from the Committee on Commerce, Science, and 
                Transportation, submitted the following

                              R E P O R T

                         [To accompany S. 1164]

    The Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation, to 
which was referred the bill (S. 1164) to provide for the 
development and coordination of a comprehensive and integrated 
United States research program that assists the people of the 
United States and the world to understand, assess, and predict 
human-induced and natural processes of abrupt climate change, 
having considered the same, reports favorably thereon without 
amendment and recommends that the bill do pass.

                          Purpose of the Bill

  The purpose of this legislation, as reported, is to authorize 
the Secretary of Commerce to establish a scientific research 
program on abrupt climate change within the Office of Oceanic 
and Atmospheric Research of the National Oceanic and 
Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).

                          Background and Needs

  According to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS), abrupt 
climate change is technically defined as when the climate 
system is forced to cross a threshold, triggering a transition 
to a new state at a response rate that is faster than the rate 
of cause of the event itself. It also is defined as climate 
change that takes place so rapidly and unexpectedly that humans 
or natural systems have difficulty adapting to it.
  In May 2002, NAS completed a review of the current state of 
knowledge on abrupt climate change at the request of the United 
States Global Climate Research Program (USGCRP) and issued a 
report entitled, Abrupt Climate Change: Inevitable Surprises. 
According to the NAS report, recent scientific evidence shows 
that major and widespread climate changes have occurred in the 
past with startling speed. One of the best known examples is 
the Younger Dryas cold interval. It was, according to evidence 
found in ice cores from Greenland and biological data found in 
terrestrial sediments, a nearly global event that began about 
12,800 years ago when there was an interruption in the gradual 
warming trend that followed the last ice age. According to the 
NAS, the data indicates that cooling into the Younger Dryas 
occurred in a few prominent decades--long steps, whereas the 
warming at the end of it occurred primarily in one especially 
large step of about 8 degrees Celsius in about 10 years and was 
accompanied by a doubling of snow accumulation in 3 years. The 
event ended abruptly about 11,600 years ago. Greenhouse warming 
and other human alterations of the climate may increase the 
possibility of large, abrupt, and unwelcome regional or global 
climatic events. The abrupt changes are not fully explained 
yet, and climate models typically underestimate the size, 
speed, and extent of those changes.
  The report included the following recommendations to the 
USGCRP:
           NAS should improve the fundamental knowledge 
        base related to abrupt climate change.
           Improve modeling focused on abrupt climate 
        change.
           Improve paleoclimatic data related to abrupt 
        climate change.
           Improve statistical approaches.
           Investigate ``no-regrets'' strategies to 
        reduce vulnerabilities.
  The NAS report also states that a new paradigm of an abruptly 
changing climatic system has been well established by research 
over the last decade, but this new thinking is little known and 
scarcely appreciated in the wider community of natural and 
social scientists and policymakers. However, policymakers are 
actively looking at the issues as evidenced by the Committee's 
hearings and the Administration's July 2003 Strategic Plan for 
the Climate Change Science Program which calls for research to 
address the potential for future changes in extreme events and 
uncertainty regarding potential rapid or discontinuous changes 
in climate. The program will build upon existing United States 
strengths in climate research and modeling.
  In January 2004, NAS completed a review of the 
Administration's strategic plan. NAS called for urgent action 
to implement the activities described in the plan. The plan 
also called upon the Administration to secure the financial 
resources necessary to ensure the success of the plan.

                          Legislative History

  S. 1164 was introduced on June 2, 2003, by Senator Collins. 
Senators Murray, Jeffords, Cantwell, and Snowe were co-sponsors 
of the legislation. S. 1164 was referred to the Committee on 
Commerce, Science, and Transportation on June 2, 2003. The 
provisions contained in S. 1164 were approved by the Senate as 
part of a larger climate science package included in the Senate 
passed energy bill (H.R. 4). The Committee held hearings on 
climate change on January 8, 2003, May 7, 2003, October 3, 
2003, and March 3, 2004.
  On March 9, 2004, the Committee met in open executive session 
and, by a voice vote, ordered S. 1164 reported without any 
amendment.

                            Estimated Costs

  In accordance with paragraph 11(a) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate and section 403 of the 
Congressional Budget Act of 1974, the Committee provides the 
following cost estimate, prepared by the Congressional Budget 
Office:

                                     U.S. Congress,
                               Congressional Budget Office,
                                    Washington, DC, March 16, 2004.
Hon. John McCain,
Chairman, Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation,
U.S. Senate, Washington, DC.
    Dear Mr. Chairman: The Congressional Budget Office has 
prepared the enclosed cost estimate for S. 1164, the Abrupt 
Climate Change Research Act of 2003.
    If you wish further details on this estimate, we will be 
pleased to provide them. The CBO staff contact is Susanne S. 
Mehlman.
            Sincerely,
                                       Douglas Holtz-Eakin,
                                                          Director.
    Enclosure.

S. 1164--Abrupt Climate Change Research Act of 2003

    Summary: S. 1164 would establish a new research program 
within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research of the 
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and would 
authorize the appropriation of $60 million for such a program. 
This new program would be responsible for conducting research 
on ``abrupt climate change,'' which the bill defines as ``a 
change in the climate that occurs so rapidly or unexpectedly 
that human or natural systems have difficulty adapting to the 
climate as changed.'' The research activities would include the 
development of advanced geophysical models and the testing of 
such models against a global database containing records of 
past climate changes.
    CBO estimates that implementing S. 1164 would cost a total 
of $60 million over the 2005-2009 period, assuming 
appropriation of the amount authorized. Enacting S. 1164 would 
not affect direct spending or revenues.
    S. 1164 contains no intergovernmental or private-sector 
mandates as defined in the Unfunded Mandates Reform Act and 
would impose no costs on state, local, or tribal governments.
    Estimated Cost to the Federal Government: For this 
estimate, CBO assumes that the bill will be enacted by the 
beginning of 2005. CBO estimates that implementing the bill 
would cost $60 million over the 2005-2009 period, assuming 
appropriation of $60 million in 2005. Estimated outlays are 
based on historical spending patterns of similar scientific 
programs. The estimated budgetary impact of S. 1164 is shown in 
the following table. The costs of this legislation fall within 
budget function 300 (natural resources and environment).

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                                                       By fiscal year, in millions of dollars--
                                                                    --------------------------------------------
                                                                       2005     2006     2007     2008     2009
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
                                  CHANGES IN SPENDING SUBJECT TO APPROPRIATION

Authorization level................................................       60        0        0        0        0
Estimated outlays..................................................       24       27        9        0        0
----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    Intergovernmental and Private-Sector Impact: S. 1164 
contains no intergovernmental or private-sector mandates as 
defined in UMRA and would impose no costs on state, local, or 
tribal governments.
    Estimate Prepared by: Federal Costs: Susanne S. Mehlman. 
Impact on State, Local, and Tribal Governments: Marjorie 
Miller. Impact on the Private Sector: Jean Talarico.
    Estimate Approved by: Peter H. Fontaine, Deputy Assistant 
Director for Budget Analysis.

                      Regulatory Impact Statement

  In accordance with paragraph 11(b) of rule XXVI of the 
Standing Rules of the Senate, the Committee provides the 
following evaluation of the regulatory impact of the 
legislation, as reported:

                       NUMBER OF PERSONS COVERED

  The Committee believes that the bill would not subject any 
individuals or businesses affected by the legislation to any 
additional regulation.

                            ECONOMIC IMPACT

  This legislation would not have an adverse impact on the 
Nation.

                                PRIVACY

  This legislation would not have a negative impact on the 
personal privacy of individuals.

                               PAPERWORK

  This legislation would not require additional paperwork.

                      Section-by-Section Analysis


Section 1. Short title

  Section 1 would entitle the bill as the ``Abrupt Climate 
Change Act of 2003''.

Section 2. Abrupt climate change research program

  Subsection (a) would require the Secretary of Commerce to 
establish a program of scientific research on abrupt climate 
change within the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research of 
the NOAA.
  Subsection (b) would identify the purposes of the research 
program as:
           Development of a global array of terrestrial 
        and oceanographic indicators of paleoclimate in order 
        to sufficiently identify and describe past instances of 
        abrupt climate change.
           Improvement of understanding of thresholds 
        and nonlinearities in geophysical systems related to 
        the mechanisms of abrupt climate change.
           Incorporation of such mechanisms into 
        advanced geophysical models of climate change.
           Testing the output of such models against an 
        improved global array of records of past abrupt climate 
        changes.
  Subsection (c) would define abrupt climate change as a change 
in climate that occurs so rapidly or unexpectedly that human or 
natural systems have difficulty adapting to the changed 
climate.

Section 3. Authorization of appropriations

  This section would authorize $60 million for fiscal year 
2003, to remain available until expended, for the research 
program established under section 2.

                        Changes in Existing Law

  In compliance with paragraph 12 of rule XXVI of the Standing 
Rules of the Senate, the Committee states that the bill as 
reported would make no change to existing law.