U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
Office of Research and Development
National Center for Environmental Research
Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Program


Assessing the Consequences of Interactions between Human Activities and a Changing Climate

Opening Date: January 7, 2000
Closing Date: April 26, 2000

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Funds Available
Instructions for Submitting an Application
Sorting Code
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EPA's Global Change Research Program is assessing the potential consequences of climate change and climate variability for human health, ecosystems, and social well-being in the United States. A complete assessment must place the effects of climate change and variability into a larger context that considers other important stressors. One such stressor is human activity. The purpose of this Request for Applications (RFA) is to foster the development of models that will enable assessors to consider the effects of human activities in tandem with the effects of climate change and climate variability. (This RFA is not concerned with human activities related to the emissions of greenhouse gases that will lead to atmospheric and climatic changes.)

Humans impose stresses on public health and ecosystems through various activities, particularly through land use choices such as road building, farming, and construction. Humans also respond or adapt to environmental changes such as changes in climate. The capacity for adaptation ultimately determines the true vulnerability of any natural or human system that is sensitive to climate change and climate variability. Collectively, these human activities are termed "human dimensions."

Considering human activities and their interactions with other natural stressors is critical for the assessment of potential consequences of climate change. Assessments that neglect the "human dimensions" are incomplete and may lead resource managers and other decision makers to incorrect conclusions about appropriate resource and adaptation policies.

The importance of considering human dimensions when conducting assessments has been emphasized by the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the National Academy of Sciences. The National Research Council's 1998 report, Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade, recognizes the human dimensions of global change as one of six areas that should be considered in the planning of future U.S. research on global environmental change. Among the "Human Dimensions Imperatives" named in the report are understanding "the major human causes of changes in the global environment and how they vary over time, across space, and between economic sectors and social groups," and understanding "the underlying social processes or driving forces behind the human relationship to the global environment, such as human attitudes and behavior, population dynamics, and institutions and economic and technological transformations." The USGCRP's 1999 annual report, Our Changing Planet, states that, "Research on the environmental effects of human activities is critical for understanding longer term climate change, changes in atmospheric chemistry, and changes in land cover and ecosystems."


Long-term objective. This RFA seeks research to support assessments of the consequences of environmental changes for society. This RFA represents the first step in a multi-year plan to foster the development of models that capture the interaction of human behavior with natural (nonhuman) responses to climate change. We recognize that the development of such models will require researchers representing a variety of disciplines from the natural and social sciences to work together. As such, we consider the development of interdisciplinary communities of investigators an important collateral benefit of this multi-year RFA process.

Objective of this RFA. The purpose of this RFA is to solicit proposals to develop and apply models that integrate human dimensions with natural processes associated with natural and human-induced climate change and variability.

Successful proposals will include the following:

(a) Articulation of what questions the models developed by the researchers will help to address, as well as which models they plan to adapt, how and why they chose them, and how they will couple them. The models produced as a result of this RFA should enable the scientific community to assess how human activities interact with natural environmental processes related to climate change.

(b) Coupling of existing model(s) of human activities (and the social forces driving them) with existing model(s) from the natural sciences associated with climate change impacts as illustrated in the center of figure 1, and in so doing, address one of the high-priority areas described below.

(c) Application of the integrated models to a particular case study to demonstrate how they can be used to answer one or more of the questions outlined below. For example, researchers might propose to develop an integrated model to address the question, "What are the human health effects of land use and automotive driving patterns when coupled with warmer temperatures?"

A model could be developed that couples a land use model, traffic simulation model, mobile source emissions model, (e.g the EPA Models3 air quality model), General Circulation Model of climate change, and a human health dose-response model together. (Once again, the applicant must explain why particular models are to be chosen and how they will be integrated.) The applicant might then conduct a case study by applying their integrated system to a particular area experiencing "urban sprawl" (e.g., Washington, DC-Baltimore, MD corridor).


Priority Research Areas:

Ecosystems. Model development might focus on the impacts of climate change and its interaction with land-use change in aquatic and terrestrial ecosystems. For example, work proposed under this RFA might result in models that quantitatively relate human dimensions and climate change scenarios to effects on ecosystems. These models could be used to address the following sorts of questions:

How might climatic changes, in combination with changing land-use patterns, affect forest health, biodiversity, and ecosystem functioning?

How might land-use choices affect the distribution and impacts of invasive species? How might climate change interact with these land-use effects?

How might changes in precipitation and temperature interact with current and future land-use choices, such as draining of wetlands, paving of surfaces, and channeling of streams and rivers, to affect water quality? What are the social driving forces underlying these land-use changes?

Could climatic and land-use changes result in changes in flooding, drought, base stream flow, and water quality, with implications for human health, social well-being, and aquatic ecosystems?

How might land-use choices increase or decrease vulnerability of ecosystems to extreme weather events?

Human Health. Model development might focus on morbidity associated with thermal extremes; the synergistic effects of air pollution (e.g., ozone and particulates) and heat waves on respiratory illnesses; the potential health consequences of extreme events such as storm surges, flooding, or drought associated with changes in both climate and land use; and health effects due to changes in water quality caused by climate change and land-use practices. For example, work proposed under this RFA might develop a model that can quantitatively relate housing and transportation choices, and the resulting land-use and emissions scenarios, with climate scenarios to evaluate possible effects on human health and well-being. These models might address the following sorts of questions:

How do higher temperatures influence housing and transportation decisions? What impact do these decisions have on emissions and the frequency and/or severity of health effects associated with ozone exposure?

How do responses to environmental changes make people more or less vulnerable to health risks, including air pollution and heat island effects?

How do changes in land use patterns interact with climate to affect the distribution of vector-borne diseases?

Investigators: Research teams must include, at a minimum, one social scientist and one natural scientist working in close collaboration on an integrated project.

Data Policy: The application must include a plan to make available all data (including primary and secondary data) from observations, analyses, or model development under this grant in a format and with documentation such that they can be utilized by others in the scientific community. The data must be made available to the project officer without restriction and be accompanied by comprehensive metadata documentation adequate for specialists and non-specialists alike to be able to understand how and where the data were obtained and to evaluate the quality of the data. The data products and their metadata must be provided to the project officer in a standard exchange format no later than the grant's final report or the publication of the data product's associated results, whichever comes first.


Up to $ 5 million is expected to be available in fiscal year 2000 for awards in this program. A proposal may request up to $500,000 per year for up to 3 years. Do not exceed these guidelines.


Academic and not-for-profit institutions located in the U.S., and state or local governments, are eligible under all existing authorizations. Profit-making firms are not eligible to receive grants from EPA under this program. Federal agencies and national laboratories funded by federal agencies (Federally-funded Research and Development Centers, FFRDCs) may not apply.

Federal employees are not eligible to serve in a principal leadership role on a grant. FFRDC employees may cooperate or collaborate with eligible applicants within the limits imposed by applicable legislation and regulations. They may participate in planning, conducting, and analyzing the research directed by the principal investigator, but may not direct projects on behalf of the applicant organization or principal investigator. The principal investigator's institution may provide funds through its grant from EPA to a FFRDC for research personnel, supplies, equipment, and other expenses directly related to the research. However, salaries for permanent FFRDC employees may not be provided through this mechanism.

Federal employees may not receive salaries or in other ways augment their agency's appropriations through grants made by this program. However, federal employees may interact with grantees so long as their involvement is not essential to achieving the basic goals of the grant.1 The principal investigator's institution may also enter into an agreement with a federal agency to purchase or utilize unique supplies or services unavailable in the private sector. Examples are purchase of satellite data, census data tapes, chemical reference standards, analyses, or use of instrumentation or other facilities not available elsewhere, etc. A written justification for federal involvement must be included in the application, along with an assurance from the federal agency involved which commits it to supply the specified service.

1EPA encourages interaction between its own laboratory scientists and grant principal investigators for the sole purpose of exchanging information in research areas of common interest that may add value to their respective research activities. However, this interaction must be incidental to achieving the goals of the research under a grant. Interaction that is "incidental" is not reflected in a research proposal and involves no resource commitments.
Potential applicants who are uncertain of their eligibility should contact Dr. Robert E. Menzer in NCER, phone (202) 564-6849, email: menzer.robert@epa.gov.


A set of special instructions on how applicants should apply for a NCER grant is found on the NCER Web site,  https://www.epa.gov/ncer/rfa/forms/, Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The necessary forms for submitting an application are also found on this Web site.


The need for a sorting code to be used in the application and for mailing is described in the Standard Instructions for Submitting a STAR Application. The sorting code for applications submitted in response to this solicitation is 2000-STAR-F1. The deadline for receipt of the application by NCER is April 26, 2000.


The following contact person will respond to inquiries regarding this solicitation and can respond to any technical questions related to your application.

Bernice L. Smith 202-564-6934