Vermont Climate Assessment: Considering Vermont’s Future in a Changing Climate

The Vermont Climate Assessment (VCA) is the nation's first comprehensive state-level assessment of climate impacts modeled after the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The VCA mirrors the NCA structure but is tailored to the sectors most applicable to Vermont. The VCA presents state-level efforts to downscale global climate models, combining them with local knowledge and data. The assessment presents climate impacts across many sectors, as well as localized, community level vulnerabilities. 

Created by a team at the Gund Institute for Ecological Economics at the University of Vermont with partners across the state, the VCA is also identifies priorities for future climate change research, and assesses what information is most needed for adaptation and mitigation strategies towards a more resilient future.

The Vermont Climate Assessment addresses three main goals:

  1. increase scientific understanding of climate change trends in Vermont using local, historical data,
  2. develop a deeper understanding of Vermont’s possible futures using simulations of future climate, and
  3. communicate the current state of knowledge on climate change impacts on Vermont, focusing on our communities, agriculture, forests, water resources, and recreation.

After an overview of Vermont’s climate and climate change policy in the state, the assessment focuses on specific sectoral impacts. Each chapter concludes with confidence ratings around the impacts and their respective key messages. The majority of findings in the VCA have a very high to high confidence level. The confidence ranking tables for each chapter’s key messages provides 1) documentation of the process the authors used to come to the conclusions in their key messages; 2) additional information to reviewers about the quality of the information used; and 3) allows traceability to data and resources.

To build the VCA, the authors collected and analyzed data from over 175 scientific studies, interviews with local and state government officials, academics NGOs, businesses, and farmers and observational data from formal sources such as the National Weather Service and from citizen scientists, such as the Joe’s Pond Association Ice-Out observations. Historical climate data was supplied by NOAA and the National Weather Service. 

The report summarizes current climate action in Vermont noting that adaptation activities include primarily town-level planning for flood resilience. Examples of resiliency planning include designing new bridges to allow for meandering of rivers, such that during flood stage the rivers can jump their bank without damage to transportation infrastructure.

The full report and detailed information on the Vermont Climate Assessment (VCA) may be found online at VTClimate.org.

 

Publication Date: June 2014

Related Organizations:

  • University of Vermont

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  • Assessment

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