Category: Policy News

31 Top Scientific Societies reaffirmed the reality of human-caused climate change. (Credit: Bart / Flickr)

U.S. Strategy To Cut Carbon Emissions 80 Percent By 2050

While this year’s United Nations Marrakech Climate Change Conference was taking place in Morocco, strategic planning to combat climate change was also happening across the pond in the U.S. On November 16, the outgoing administration released the “United States Mid-Century Strategy For Deep Decarbonization.” Developed with input from stakeholders and in collaboration with Canada, Mexico, and other nations developing similar strategies, this plan explains potential pathways to reduce greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions by at least eighty percent by 2050.

An Argo float is deployed in the Southern Ocean. (Credit: Hannes Grobe/AWI)

Experts Agree: Tackle Obstructions to Ocean Observing

A teacher in Boise checks his weather app and packs an umbrella while a Miami businesswoman decides to work from home because the local news announces her usual route to work is flooded. What do these two have in common? The information they rely on for their daily activities depends on observational data from the ocean. Some ocean observations provide real-time results, but others must be continuously collected for years before significant patterns and changes can be detected and analyzed. Due to the vital importance of observing systems to the benefit of our nation’s economy, national security, and scientific enterprise, the National Academy of Science’s Ocean Studies Board ad hoc observations committee held a two-day workshop to hear expert opinions on ocean observation systems as they draft a report prioritizing imperative ocean variables for climate research.

National Science Board sets priorities for the National Science Foundation (Credit: NSF)

NSF Meeting Highlights Accomplishments and Progress

What do that MRI you had after damaging your knee while running, knowing whether to bring an umbrella to work, and antifreeze in Antarctic fish have in common?MRIs, the Doppler radar, and the identification of “antifreeze” glycoproteins in Antarctic fish were made possible through research funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF). In addition to its 66-year history of promoting scientific progress, the NSF funds 24 percent of federally-supported research at colleges and universities across the nation. The 24-member National Science Board (NSB) leads NSF and meets five times per year, most recently on November 8 and 9. NSF Director Dr. France Córdova opened the meeting by touting some of the agency’s monumental successes in 2016, including six NSF-supported scientists winning Nobel Prizes and 213 teachers being awarded the Presidential Award for Excellence in Mathematics and Science Teaching.

The melting of sea ice in Antarctica has global impacts. (Credit: Wikimedia Commons)

Antarctica: More Than Penguins

Most homebuyers don’t think about Antarctica when buying beachfront property. But maybe they should. The 5.4 million-square-mile Antarctic ice sheet is melting, and scientists estimate that if it disappeared completely, sea level would rise by 200 feet. While no one expects complete melting to happen in the immediate future, competing pressures are increasing the rate of ice melt, whose impacts will be felt in varying ways around the globe – and could even affect that beachfront buy sooner rather than later. In addition to Antarctica’s globally significant role in sea level rise, ocean and atmospheric circulation, and carbon cycling, it has a unique ecosystem that offers myriad opportunities for scientific research. Last week, at a congressional briefing hosted by Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory (LDEO), scientists discussed the changing Antarctic and research opportunities in light of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s strategic vision for NSF-supported research in Antarctica and the Southern Ocean over the next ten years.

Committee members highlight importance of geosciences, funding, and correct statistics on scientific integrity from previous hearing.

Updated NSF Policies & Procedures Guide

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has published an updated version of its Proposal & Award Policies & Procedures Guide. Part I of the guide consists of proposal preparation and submission guidelines, while Part II is comprised of award, administration, and monitoring guidelines.

Southwest view of the Pentagon with the Potomac River and Washington Monument in background (1998). (Credit: Master Sgt. Ken Hammond, U.S. Air Force/ Wikimedia Commons)

Carter Creates New Department of Defense Post: Chief Innovation Officer

With only a few months left before his tenure as Defense secretary expires, Ashton Carter took one more step to drive home his oft-repeated point that the the Pentagon needs more “innovation” in its bloodstream, in case anyone has failed to take notice so far. On Friday, Carter ordered the establishment a new senior office within the Pentagon: the DoD Chief Innovation Officer. Its creation was first suggested by members of the Defense Innovation Board he created earlier this year, preceded by his standup of the Defense Innovation Unit-Experimental(DIUx).

The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology is asking for input on its 10-year ocean research plan.

Subcommittee On Ocean Science And Technology Requesting Written Input On Ocean Research Plan

The Subcommittee on Ocean Science and Technology (SOST), under the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC), is requesting written input on the structure and content of its upcoming 10-year ocean research plan (tentatively titled “Ocean Research in the Coming Decade”). This new Plan will supersede the NSTC’s “Charting the Course for Ocean Science in the United States for the Next Decade: An Ocean Research Priorities Plan and Implementation Strategy,” that was published in 2007 and updated in 2013.