The National Climate Indicators System: Multidisciplinary indicators of changes and impacts to inform decision-makers and the public
The National Climate Indicators System (NCIS) is being developed as a sustained activity to complement the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) National Climate Assessment report and sustained assessment activities. USGCRP was created as a result of the 1990 Global Change Research Act, which requires 13 Federal agencies to coordinate their global change research portfolios. The purpose of the NCIS is to inform decision-makers and the public through means of a scientifically-valid set of physical, ecological, and societal indicators that communicate key aspects of the state of the physical climate as well as impacts, vulnerabilities, and policy responses.
The NCIS will utilize a conceptually unified framework to address questions important to multiple audiences including (but not limited to) non-scientists (e.g., Congress, U.S. citizens, students), resource managers, and state and municipal planners. Due to the potential uses of the indicators and geographic diversity of the intended audience, the ultimate goal is that the physical, ecological, and societal indicators will be spatially scalable in order to provide information at national, state, regional, and local levels and temporally scalable from lagging indicators to leading indicators. The pilot NCIS is designed to provide a proof-of-concept for the Federal agencies and to engage a broader user community to determine the features necessary in the NCIS to meet their needs.
Given a novel, formal process of seeking recommendations of over 200+ scientists and practitioners and 13 multidisciplinary teams (e.g., agriculture, oceans and coasts), the NCIS has developed and implemented a pilot NCIS with a constrained number of indicators that are scientifically-vetted and immediately implementable indicators. Specifically, the pilot includes a small set of global climate context indicators, such as global temperature change; however, the primary focus is national, regional, and sector-level indicators focused on impacts and vulnerabilities. Assessment of the pilot system will involve a sequence of evaluation activities, with initial research focused on the understandability of the information and perceived utility for different decision processes. These efforts have been designed to be both scientifically rigorous for publication in the peer-reviewed literature and immediately useful to improving the design and features of individual indicators and the system as a whole. This poster will present the results – i.e., the creation of the pilot NCIS – and our anticipated future evaluation research and proposed expansion of the NCIS.