photo of clouds

Morning sky above Boulder, Colorado


Because many environmental policy-setting institutions rely on clear scientific information for decisions, CSD makes it a priority to assess and translate scientific understanding for constituents. Our researchers play extensive roles in leading, authoring, and reviewing international and national scientific state-of-understanding assessments on climate change, air quality, and the stratospheric ozone layer.

As an indication of the value of placed on such assessments, the IPCC (Intergovernmental Panel for Climate Change) was awarded the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize for its role in communicating understanding of climate variability and change through its scientific reports. Several CSD researchers are among those who have contributed to the IPCC reports.

Recent international and national assessments for which CSD has provided leadership or other contributions:

  • WMO/UNEP Scientific Assessments of Ozone Depletion Since its inception in 1987, the Scientific Assessment Panel has provided state-of-scientific-understanding assessments to underpin the decisions associated with the protection of the Earth's ozone layer through the United Nations Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer. The most recent assessments were in 2010 and 2014.
  • Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Assessment Reports Since its inception in 1988, the IPCC Working Group I has provided assessments and special reports that have informed policymakers worldwide on the topic of climate change. The most recent assessment was in 2013.
  • UNEP Synthesis Reports:

    Drawing Down N2O to Protect Climate and the Ozone Layer PDF file This 2013 report provides timely information for international discussions, under the Montreal Protocol (Vienna Convention on the Ozone Layer) and the Kyoto Protocol (United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change), on possible approaches to address anthropogenic nitrous oxide emissions.

    HFCs: A Critical Link in Protecting Climate and the Ozone Layer PDF file This 2011 report has provided timely information for international discussions on possible approaches to curtail the use of HFCs. This is a major topic under consideration by the Parties to the Montreal Protocol.

  • U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) Synthesis and Assessment Reports These products, published in 2008 and 2009, provide a synthesis of the cumulative knowledge on climate to inform U.S. policymakers in their efforts to formulate effective strategies for preventing, mitigating, and adapting to the effects of global change.
  • UNECE Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollution (TF HTAP) Assessment Report This 2010 report informs the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution, a 1979 international agreement that fosters cooperation on actions to mitigate air pollution emissions.
  • WMO/IGAC Impacts of Megacities on Air Pollution and Climate PDF file Published in 2012, this asseses the research about megacities and their role in local to global atmospheric chemistry. An assessment of the megacities is important for both scientific communities and policymakers dealing with urbanization, air quality management, and climate change.
  • IGAC Black Carbon Assessment: Bounding the Role of Black Carbon in the Climate System: A Scientific Assessment Published in 2013 and carried out under the auspices of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry Project (IGAC) of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP), this assesses the role of black carbon in climate. This assessment informs research efforts, climate modeling, and policy discussions regarding black carbon.

  • SPARC Lifetimes Report This 2013 report updates the state of understanding on the atmospheric lifetimes of trace gases that are important to climate and stratospheric ozone. This assessment provides key input for international (IPCC and WMO/UNEP) scientific assessments on climate and the ozone layer.
  • SPARC Water Vapour Assessment (WAVAS) This update to the first scientific assessment of water vapor is in preparation. The effort is under the Stratosphere-troposphere Processes and their Role in Climate (SPARC) project of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP).
  • Tropospheric Ozone Assessment Report (TOAR) The first international scientific assessment of tropospheric ozone is under the auspices of the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry (IGAC) Project, which operates under the umbrella of the International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP). Publication is expected in 2017.
  • Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) Kinetic Data Evaluation This evaluation dates back to 1977; it provides evaluated chemical kinetics and photochemistry information used in modeling of atmospheric chemistry, and underpins international assessments on the ozone layer and climate. The next evaluation is planned for Fall of 2015.
  • CENRS Air Quality Research Subcommittee (AQRS) Reports CSD is a leading contributor to the National Science and Technology Council (NSTC) Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability AQRS.

Additional detail on CSD's specific roles in these assessments can be found in two documents developed for the 2015 CSD Science Review:
Research Accomplishments and Plans: 2008-2014 PDF file and Supporting Information: 2008-2014 PDF file

U.S. regional assessments for government

CSD also provides focused U.S. regional assessments to support air quality and climate decision making at state and local levels of government. Working with stakeholders, CSD identifies information needs, and then designs and carries out research studies to meet those needs. CSD works closely with stakeholders to provide the information in forms that will be most useful, including reports and briefings.

  • California - Worked with stakeholders in the California Air Resources Board (CARB) and EPA Region 9 to design and carry out the 2010 CalNex field mission; communicated findings in a science synthesis report PDF file, workshops, scientific meetings, and several publications in the peer-reviewed literature
  • Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill - Provided a rapid-turnaround report on air chemistry during the 2010 Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill; the report gave unique and urgently needed information about air quality in the vicinity and downwind of the DWH spill site
  • Texas - Continued to provide information and analyses to stakeholders in the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) regarding findings from the 2000 and 2006 Texas Air Quality Studies (TexAQS 2000 and 2006)
  • Utah - Worked with the Utah Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) and EPA Region 8 to design and carry out three field campaigns (2012, 2013, 2014) to study the air quality implications of oil and gas exploration activities in Uintah County, focusing especially on determining the processes involved in episodes of high surface ozone in wintertime
  • Nevada - Worked with the Nevada Clark County Department of Air Quality (DAQ) to carry out a 2013 field study to investigate the role of stratospheric intrusions during episodes of high surface ozone near Las Vegas, and produced a report PDF file for those stakeholders
  • Colorado - Provided scientific information to the Regional Air Quality Council (RAQC), the lead air quality planning agency for the Denver Metropolitan area; EPA Region 8; the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment; and local municipalities regarding CSD measurements near oil and gas fields north of Denver