May 2, 2014

Climate Expert Offers Roadmap To Face U.S. Challenges

Texas A&M University atmospheric sciences professor John Nielsen-Gammon, who also serves as Texas State Climatologist, is one of the co-authors of a natural resources “roadmap” that will guide research, education and policy decisions in the United States over the next decade.

The roadmap, released by the Association of Public Land-Grant Universities (APLU), details six broad challenges facing the U.S. now and over the next 10 years.  These include water, energy, agriculture, climate change, education and sustainability.

John Nielsen-Gammon

Nielsen-Gammon is part of a team of 35 scientists who authored the roadmap, which is sponsored by the Department of Agriculture through a grant to Oregon State University.  Other Texas A&M contributors to the project are Pete Teel, professor of entomology, and Urs Kreuter, professor of ecosystem science and management.

A nationally recognized expert on climate data and weather patterns, Nielsen-Gammon helped to write the chapter on climate change, and the authors convey the need to understand the impacts of climate change on the environment. Many aspects of the environment are being affected, such as disease transmission, air quality, water supply, ecosystems, fire and species survival.

“Climate change has happened many times before, but this time it’s happening to an environment that has already been altered, fragmented, and degraded,” Nielsen-Gammon says.

“Studying how individual species respond to a changing climate in isolation is one thing.  The true challenge is in untangling all of the interdependencies, and identifying that one domino whose fall leads to a host of other, unexpected consequences,” Nielsen-Gammon adds.

Also necessary, according to the roadmap, is a comprehensive strategy for how to manage natural resources in the context of a changing climate.

“We can no longer simply try to preserve the environment,” the Texas A&M professor says.  “We must plan for an environment suitable for the future climate, and enable that transition to take place.”

APLU President Peter McPherson notes, “This roadmap provides a needed framework and should help guide policy decisions in the coming years.  Scientists at our public and land-grant universities have developed this report to identify clearly the challenges we face and prioritize our research, education and outreach efforts.”

APLU represents 235 public research universities, land-grant universities, state university systems and affiliated organizations.  Founded in 1887, APLU is North America’s oldest higher education association with member institutions in all 50 states, four U.S. territories, Canada and Mexico, and it conducts $41 billion in university-based research.

To see the full report, click here.

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Media contact: John Nielsen-Gammon at (979) 862-2248 or n-g@tamu.edu or Keith Randall, News & Information Services, at (979) 845-4644

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