WASHINGTON—Government scientists, in an unusual display of consensus, have spelled out research priorities for the burgeoning field of global climate change. Their plan, contained in a report that was scheduled for official release this month, is the most comprehensive description of how the federal government hopes to increase its understanding of environmental changes throughout the world.

“We tried to examine what we need to know about the earth system and what is most problematic,” explains J. Michael Hall, director of the Office of Climate and Atmospheric Research at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Adminstration (NOAA) and a contributor to the report, entitled U.S /GIobal Change Research Program Priority Framework. The 200-page document fleshes out the seven research areas that were mentioned in February in an addendum to President Bush’s 1990 budget proposal entitled “Our Changing Planet.” It spans research funded by seven federal agencies, including NOAA, National Science Foundation, National...

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