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Communicating about the National Climate Assessment: Background and Talking Points Climate Access Roundtable Friday, April 11, 2014 Kathy Jacobs Center.

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Presentation on theme: "Communicating about the National Climate Assessment: Background and Talking Points Climate Access Roundtable Friday, April 11, 2014 Kathy Jacobs Center."— Presentation transcript:

1 Communicating about the National Climate Assessment: Background and Talking Points Climate Access Roundtable Friday, April 11, 2014 Kathy Jacobs Center for Climate Adaptation Science and Solutions University of Arizona

2 What is the NCA? The NCA is an ongoing effort to rigorously evaluate and integrate scientific knowledge about climate variability and change, including impacts, vulnerabilities and opportunities, within sectors and regions across the US. It informs the nation about already observed changes, the current status of the climate, and anticipated trends for the future. Under the Global Change Research Act of 1990, the federal government is required to prepare a report to the President and Congress at least every four years that synthesizes, analyzes and evaluates scientific information to help the nation understand climate related changes and what the expected future impacts are across the U.S.

3 How is the NCA Used? Reports and other products from the NCA provide a highly credible, peer reviewed set of findings that can be used by the government as well as U.S. citizens, communities and businesses as they create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the nations future.

4 What is the US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP)? USGCRPs 13 federal agencies have worked for the past 23 years to coordinate their science and research investments (including satellite systems, on-the-ground measurements, modeling, and data management) and to understand, predict, assess and respond to changes in global trends, particularly those associated with climate variability and change. For more information about USGCRP, see

5 What is new about the Third NCA? It is a sustained scientific process, rather than a one-time periodic report-writing activity; The NCA includes climate impacts and projections, but also assesses progress in response activities such as adaptation (preparedness) and mitigation (managing emissions of heat-trapping gases); Partnerships inside and outside of the government support this effort, including organizations and individuals in both the public and the private sectors; National indicators of change within regions and sectors are being developed, along with consistent and ongoing methods for evaluation of progress in limiting risk; Unlike previous NCA reports, this report will be entirely web-based; this allows easier access to the data for citizens, decision-makers and scientists and a transparent line of sight between data and conclusions; This NCA is designed to support decision making processes within and across regions and sectors of the U.S. in a risk-based framework

6 What are the Objectives of the NCA? The NCA is an inclusive, nationwide process with many key objectives, including: – Evaluating, integrating and assessing relevant climate science and information from multiple sources both inside and outside the federal government; – Summarizing and synthesizing the findings of the USGCRP; – Increasing understanding of what is known and not known about climate change; – Informing climate science research priorities; – Building climate assessment capacity, including vulnerability assessment and documentation of impacts in regions and sectors; – Supporting climate-literacy and skilled use of NCA findings. – Incorporating on-the-ground knowledge of resource managers, academics, and citizens

7 What topics are covered in the NCA3 Report? The NCA3 report documents how climate change impacts different regions and sectors across the United States, including: Climate Science (Our Changing Climate) Human Health | Land Use and Land Cover Change Agriculture | Forestry | Ecosystems and Biodiversity Water Resources | Energy Supply and Use | Transportation Urban Infrastructure and Vulnerability | Rural Communities Biogeochemical Cycles | Oceans and Marine Resources Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources Coastal Zone | Adaptation, Mitigation and Decision Support Research Needs | Sustained Assessment *Many of these topics are treated as integrated assessments across multiple regions or sectors. There is also a section on Commonly Asked Questions section that appears as an Appendix to the Climate Science chapter.

8 Why is the NCA Important? Decision-makers from a broad array of sectors, regions, and businesses will depend on the NCA for information that is easily accessible and highly credible. This NCA is the largest and most carefully- vetted national climate assessment ever undertaken. It involved 30 chapter author teams, a total of 300 authors, and over 800 direct contributors. It was reviewed by the public, government agencies and a panel of the National Academies over a period of more than a year.

9 Who are the Authors? The authors were selected by a 60 person federal advisory committee representing a wide array of expertise and experience. They selected a wide range of authors, including authors from the private sector, NGOs, academia, and state and federal government as well as experts in helping manage resources and make decisions.

10 Usefulness for the Public Private citizens will find that this NCA uses highly accessible language and includes a lot of graphics that help "tell the story" of climate variability and change, and how we can tell the difference between "normal" variability and long-term trends. Examples in the report tie the findings to the kinds of changes that are observable within states and regions and in people's back yards.

11 Transparency and Access The NCA is the first major government report to be submitted electronically as an interactive website. The website is designed to maximize transparency and utility to decision-makers because all of the graphics and key findings in the NCA are electronically linked to background data, literature, and other resources. Over time, more tools and search capacity will be added to maximize easy access to the information in the NCA.

12 Frequently Asked Questions A particularly useful place to find answers to the most difficult and often-repeated questions about climate can be found in the Frequently Asked Questions appendix.

13 NCA Regions

14 NCA products The full 1300 plus pages of report, references and "traceable accounts" that explain the author's conclusions and thought processes will be included in the interactive web version at The printed products include: – A 100 plus page "highlights" document that has a lot of graphics. – There are also two page handouts for each region, and – A number of handouts pulled from the "highlights" that illustrate the 12 major report findings – A four page summary of the report Key Findings

15 What is IPCC? The United Nations Environmental Programme and the World Meteorological Organization established The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in 1988. The IPCC is a global organization that collects and assesses the scientific literature related to climate change and its environmental and socioeconomic impacts.The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change It has released four reports, the most recent in 2007. The Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) is being released in three parts. Working Group I (WGI-physical science report) was released in September 2013, and Working Group II (adaptation and vulnerabilities) and III (options for mitigation and our long-term future) are appearing in March and April 2014, respectively.

16 NCA/IPCC Comparison Both reports assess existing science and involve extensive input from the scientific community, as well as input from NGOs and leaders in business and industry. Similarities in findings (based on the 2013 Draft NCA) include: – Climate change is occurring now, and it is occurring everywhere. – Climate change is primarily caused by human activities, especially greenhouse gases emitted by burning fossil fuels and deforestation. – Climate change is already affecting many types of extreme weather and will continue to do so. – The economic costs of climate change will increase substantially if emissions are not controlled. – Climate change threatens human health, food security, infrastructure, and many other aspects of our well being. – Climate change mitigation efforts will create many shorter-term co-benefits (for example, benefits to human health).

17 Differences between IPCC and NCA The NCA discusses impacts to eight distinct regions of the United States, seven sectors, and six cross-sectoral topics as well as existing and potential U.S. adaptation and mitigation actions. The IPCC discusses North America as a whole (as one region) without systematically breaking it into smaller regions or going into the same level of detail. The IPCC process to develop the Summary for Policymakers involves negotiations across 122 countries – the NCA contents are solely those of the authors and the members of the federal advisory committee, after multiple rounds of review. The NCA is focused on community building and a sustained assessment process, rather than on a literature review

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