President Obama’s budget request for Fiscal Year 2013 includes $2.6 billion for the U.S. Global Change Research Program, the multiagency federal program that supports climate science research and observing systems. Most of the increase over the current level would go to three agencies: NASA, NOAA, and the Department of Energy.

In connection with the rollout of the President’s budget yesterday, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy put out a 3-page Fact Sheet on the FY2013 budget for the research program, Meeting the Challenges of Global Change.  (The federal fiscal year 2013 begins on October 1, 2012, and runs through September 30, 2013.)

As you can see from the OSTP Fact Sheet, the FY2013 budget request is up from FY2010, 2011 and 2012.  It is lower than the FY2009 budget, which included a big boost from the Recovery Act.

The three-year trend for the multiagency USGCRP budget crosscut would go from $2.448 billion in FY2011, down to $2.427 billion in FY2012 (estimated), and up to $2.563 billion in FY2013, an increase of $136 million (5.6%).

Excluding FY2009, the FY2013 budget is the largest since 1995 (in constant 2011 dollars).  The President’s 2013 budget would thus get the USGCRP back to within 5% of the level it reached at its 1995 peak, during the Clinton Administration, just before the Republicans took control of the Congress after the 1994 election and started cutting the climate research budget. (More on this budget/political history to come in a follow-up post).

Although the USGCRP budget is spread across 10 agencies (with additional related activities in the Depts of Defense and State and the US Agency for International Development), more than 90% of the USGCRP total is concentrated in just four agencies:

NASA – $1.469 billion FY2013 request
Dept. of Commerce – $342 million, almost all of which is in NOAA
National Science Foundation – $333 million
Dept of Energy – $230 million

The rest of the USGCRP budget goes mainly to three additional agencies that play significant roles:

Dept of Agriculture – $86 million
Dept of the Interior – $68 million, in the U.S. Geological Survey
Environmental Protection Agency – $20 million, in the Office of Research and Development

Reports and general information about the USGCRP are available on the program’s website, The USGCRP is completing work on a new 10-year Strategic Plan for research, hopefully to be released very soon. The plan, judging from a draft we reviewed during 2011, will lay out several new strategic objectives in addition to the USGCRP’s long-standing, big-ticket activities aimed at advancing scientific understanding of the Earth system. The additional objectives include:

Inform Decisions: provide the scientific basis to inform and enable timely decisions on adaptation and mitigation;
Conduct Sustained Assessments: build sustained assessment capacity that improves the United States’ ability to understand, anticipate, and respond to global change impacts and vulnerabilities; and
Communicate and Educate: advance communications and education to broaden public understanding of global change.

The USGCRP is also now in the midst of supporting the development of a new National Climate Assessment. The NCA is a complex process leading toward publication of a major report in 2013, as well as the establishment of what is intended to be an ongoing national assessment capability for linking climate research expertise with the needs of stakeholders.

Earlier posts:

Does the USGCRP have high-level political buy-in for connecting climate science to society?

Draft federal climate research plan gives new emphasis to ‘decision support,’ sustained assessments, and communications

“This report will be attacked” – Statement to the National Climate Assessment committee