SYMP 19-1 - Overview of the National Climate Assessment process

Thursday, August 9, 2012: 1:30 PM
Portland Blrm 251, Oregon Convention Center
Jerry M. Melillo, The Ecosystems Center, Marine Biological Laboratory, Woods Hole, MA

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is being conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The Act requires a report to the President and the Congress every four years that must do three things. First the report must integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP). Second, it must analyze the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity. And third, the report must analyze current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.

The next NCA report, currently under development, is due out in late 2013. The report and the larger National Climate Assessment process are being overseen by a sixty-member committee, the National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee, established under the Department of Commerce in December 2010 and supported through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).


The 2013 report will have 30 chapters, each of which is being authored by a team of experts drawn from academia, government organizations, non-government organizations and the private sector. In addition to the climate science and “sector” chapters (e.g., natural environment, agriculture, water resources) called for in the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the 2013 report will include chapters on climate change impacts in the major regions of the United States and its territories, on major crosscutting topics such as climate change impacts on interactions among energy, water and land use, and on responses to climate change trough mitigation and adaptation actions.

In this presentation, the outline of the 2013 report will be presented, the timetable for the report’s production will be given, as will a summary of the multiple-step review process. This process will include reviews by a National Academy of Sciences committee, Federal Agencies and the public.

The presentation will end with a brief discussion of plans for the assessment as a “sustained process’ – what this means and why it is important.