The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is being conducted under the auspices of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), pursuant to the Global Change Research Act of 1990, Section 106, which requires a report to Congress every 4 years. Part of the vision for the sustained NCA process is a system of physical, ecological, and societal indicators that communicate key aspects of the physical climate, climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and preparedness for the purpose of informing both decision makers and the public with scientifically valid information that is useful to inform decision-making processes such as the development and implementation of climate adaptation strategies in a particular sector or region. These indicators will be tracked as a part of ongoing assessment activities, with adjustments as necessary to adapt to changing conditions and understanding. The indicators will be reviewed and updated so that the system adapts to new information.
The potential questions that could be addressed by these indicators include:
- How do we know that there is a changing climate and how is it expected to change in the future?
- Are important climate impacts and opportunities occurring or predicted to occur in the future?
- Are we adapting and mitigating?
- What are the vulnerabilities and resiliencies given a changing climate?
- Are we preparing adequately for extreme events?
It is not expected that the NCA indicators would be linked directly to a single decision or portfolio of decisions, but subsets of indicators, or the data supporting the indicator, might be used to inform decision-making processes such as the development and implementation of climate adaptation strategies in a particular sector or region.
This talk will focus on the challenges and opportunities of developing ecological indicators. Several examples, which are presented in the NCA Indicators Technical Input report, of ecological indicators that link to a changing and more variable climate will highlight the utility of such indicators to improve understanding and to provide information to support decisions.