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Welcome to the 2009 Briefing Series for Members of Congress and Staff

This year's theme is "USGS Climate Change Science: Exploring the Past, Observing the Present, Forecasting the Future"

Previous Congressional Briefings

First in the 2009 series

Science for Understanding the Impacts of Climate Change

The United States faces the alarming possibility of abrupt climate change in the 21st century. Slight changes in climate may trigger major abrupt ecosystem responses - or “tipping points” - that are not easily reversible. The United States could be threatened by continued glacier and ice-sheet melting, sea-ice retreat, coastal erosion, sea-level rise, insect outbreaks, expanded areas of drought, and increased wildfires. These and other impacts pose clear risks to society in terms of our ability to adapt, especially if we are unprepared. Come learn how the USGS is working with the U.S. Climate Change Science Program to provide the science necessary for understanding current and future climate conditions and developing effective adaptation and mitigation strategies, to help the Nation prepare for an uncertain future.

Date: March 20, 2009


Heinz Center logoBob Corell
Office Director
Vice President of Programs at The Heinz Center

US Climate Change Science Program logoPeter Schultz
Office Director
U.S. Climate Change Science Program

USGSVirginia Burkett
Chief Scientist for
Global Change Research at USGS

USGSThomas Armstrong
Senior Advisor for
USGS Global Change Programs

Time: 10:00 a.m.

1324 Longworth House Office Building
Washington, D.C

Congressional Sponsors:
Climate Change: Impacts on the Colorado River 
PDF (1.4 MB)
Powerpoints: Hosted by: The following links leave the USGS site.

Speaker Biographies

Bob Corell

Robert W. Corell is Vice President of Programs at The Heinz Center.  He joined the Center as Global Change Director in December 2006.  Before coming to The Heinz Center, Dr. Corell served as a Senior Policy Fellow at the Policy Program of the American Meteorological Society and an Affiliate of the Washington Advisory Group. He recently completed an appointment that began in January 2000 as a Senior Research Fellow in the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University’s Kennedy School of Government.  Dr. Corell is actively engaged in research concerned with the sciences of global change and the interface between science and public policy, particularly research activities that are focused on global and regional climate change, related environmental issues, and science to facilitate understanding of vulnerability and sustainable development.  He co-chairs an international strategic planning group that is developing a strategy designed to harness science, technology, and innovation for sustainable development, serves as the Chair of the Arctic Climate Impact Assessment, counsels as Senior Science Advisor to ManyOne.Net, and is Chair of the Board of the Digital Universe Foundation.  Dr. Corell was Assistant Director for Geosciences at the National Science Foundation where he had oversight for the Atmospheric, Earth, and Ocean Sciences and the global change programs of the National Science Foundation (NSF).  He was also a professor and academic administrator at the University of New Hampshire.  Dr. Corell is an oceanographer and engineer by background and training, having received Ph.D., M.S., and B.S. degrees at Case Western Reserve University and MIT.

Peter Schultz

Peter Schultz is the Director of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program Office (CCSPO). His current responsibilities include management of CCSPO's program-wide scientific integration, planning, prioritization, and assessment activities through coordination with the CCSP Director (a senior manager from NOAA), the CCSP Principals, and the CCSP Interagency Working Groups. He joined CCSPO in 2004 as the Associate Director for Science Integration. Prior to that he worked for several years at the National Academies where he directed or co-directed a dozen scientific studies related to global environmental variability and change. He also directed the creation of the National Academies new museum exhibition on climate change. Schultz has also worked at the NOAA Climate Analysis Center on global-scale remote sensing of vegetation, and as a post-doc at Penn State on integrated assessment of climate change. He holds M.S. and Ph.D. degrees in Geosciences from Penn State where he conducted research using climate, carbon cycle, and integrated assessment models. He holds a B.S. in Geology from Virginia Tech. In his spare time, he enjoys coaching and playing soccer and hockey, competing in kayak slalom, and skiing.

Virginia Burkett

Virginia Burkett is the Chief Scientist for Global Change Research at the U.S. Geological Survey. She was formerly Chief of the Forest Ecology Branch at the National Wetlands Research Center. Burkett has served as Secretary/Director of the Louisiana Department of Wildlife and Fisheries, Director of the Louisiana Coastal Zone Management Program, and Assistant Director of the Louisiana Geological Survey. She has published extensively on the topics of global change and low-lying coastal zones. She was a Lead Author of the United Nation's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessment Reports (2001 and 2007) and the IPCC Technical Paper on Water (2008). She coordinated both the Coastal and Southeast synthesis chapters of the U.S. National Assessment of climate change and its impacts (2001) and she is presently working on an updated national synthesis report for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program. She has co-authored reports for The Wildlife Society (2004), the United Nations Convention on Biodiversity (2005), the Everglades Task Force (2007), and the U.S. Department of Transportation (2008) that address climate change impacts and potential adaptation strategies. Burkett has been appointed to over 40 Commissions, Committees, Science Panels and Boards during her career and was among the several hundred of IPCC authors who shared in the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. She is an editor of the international journal Ethics in Science and Environmental Policy.                                                             

Thomas Armstrong

Thomas Armstrong serves as the Director and Senior Advisor for Global Change at the U.S. Geological Survey. During his career at USGS, Tom has served as the principal for the Department of the Interior to the United States Climate Change Science Program, the United States Head of  Delegation for the Arctic Monitoring and Assessment Programme (AMAP); Co-Lead for development of the Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS) response to Global Climate Observing System (GCOS) Implementation Plan, the United States delegate for the United Nations Framework Council on Climate Change, advisor on USGS’ International Polar Year activities, and as Chair of the Science Sub-committee for the Department of the Interior Climate Change Task Force.
Tom has also participated in numerous testimonies to various Congressional Committees and high-level briefings for the bureau, DOI and various international forums regarding climate change and International Polar Year activities.                                   


For information on the USGS Climate Change Science briefing series, please call 703-648-4455.

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