Preparing the Nation for Change: Building a Sustained National Climate Assessment Process

Following the release of the draft of the Third National Climate Assessment from the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC - a 60 member Federal advisory committee) developed this report to provide advice on the sustained assessment process. Sustained assessment process activities, such as developing a system of indicators, are already underway.

The strategic goal of conducting a sustained climate assessment is aimed at increasing the federal government's ability to effectively and efficiently support the expanding need for information, foster collaboration between various levels of government and non-governmental entities, and produce and communicate timely, scientifically-sound climate information products, technologies, and processes for the nation. This report describes the knowledge base and capacity needed to enable the effective integration of new scientific understanding into management decisions. Examples of facilitating this process include enhancing the production of decision-support tools, initiating continuous improvements in collecting and synthesizing information, and providing feedback to ongoing research efforts.

The following "Critical Elements" for sustaining the NCA are examined in detail in this report:

1: Establish mechanisms to support enduring collaborative partnerships that sustain assessment activities.  

2: Enhance and organize the scientific foundations for managing the risks and opportunities of climate change.

3: Provide infrastructure to support a sustained assessment process.

4: Diversify the resource base and set priorities.

This report responds to the requirement of the charter of the NCADAC to provide advice and recommendations toward the development of an ongoing, sustained national assessment of global change impacts and adaptation and mitigation strategies for the nation. The recommendations presented here build on the plans set forth in the USGCRP Strategic Plan (NSTC 2012).

The National Climate Assessment is designed to present a comprehensive picture of the changes in regions and sectors that occur in response to climate variability and change, including effects on public health and human well‐being, the economy, infrastructure, and the environment. This information is intended to help decision makers throughout the country design adaptation policies, help citizens prepare themselves for climate change impacts, and help everyone understand how their everyday decisions impact the climate and the environment.

Publication Date: September 2013

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  • Assessment guide

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