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Studying climate change

The U.S. Departments of Agriculture and Energy and the National Science Foundation are moving beyond the debate over global warming and creating a program to develop models for predicting climate change.

The program will use nearly $50 million to develop climate system models that provide “insights on climate variability and impacts on ecosystems,” according to Roger Beachy, director of USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture.

“Climate change and its impacts on the land, crops and animals raise some of the most serious issues faced by producers and by society at large,” Beachy said. “It is important to understand its potential effect on our world and how we can proactively mitigate its consequences. Accurate and reliable scientific information is critical to sustain an economically viable agriculture.”

USDA’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture, DOE and NSF will release a request for proposals for the program in fiscal 2010.

The program seeks proposals that couple climate models at different spatial and temporal scales to erosion, geomorphic change, land use, water management and food production.

In fiscal 2010, NSF will contribute $30 million, DOE $9 million and USDA $10 million. This joint solicitation allows these partner agencies to combine resources and fund the highest-impact projects that support their respective missions without duplicating efforts.

USDA will support research to develop climate models that can be linked to crop, forestry, aquaculture and livestock models to assess the adequacy of potential outcomes of risk management strategies so that development and yields can be projected reliably at different spatial and temporal scales.

Through federal funding and leadership for research, education and extension programs, NIFA focuses on investing in science and solving critical issues impacting people’s daily lives and the nation’s future.

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