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The National Climate Assessment

Report from the U.S. Global Change Research Program details the latest science on clmate change and its impacts in the United States

As our country, and the world, increasingly experiences the impacts of global warming — from rising sea levels to extreme heat to floods and drought — it’s more important than ever that cities, towns, businesses, and citizens have access to the latest science on climate change. The National Climate Assessment (NCA) is one such authoritative resource.

What is the National Climate Assessment?

Produced on a regular basis by the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), the NCA provides a comprehensive assessment of the current understanding of climate change science, including an overview of likely impacts in the United States on a region-by-region basis.

The NCA aims to put this information into a larger context as it relates to social, ecological, and policy systems, and is designed to inform strategies and policies on global warming for federal, state, and local governments, as well as the private sector and citizens. The previous assessment, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, was released in 2009.

On January 11, 2013, USGCRP released a draft version of its next report — The Third National Climate Assessment Report — and will open a three-month public comment period for additional input beginning on January 14. The final report is scheduled for release in early 2014.

How is the National Climate Assessment developed?

The NCA is an assessment of the best available science, written by hundreds of scientists and experts from academia; local, state, and federal government; the private sector; and the non-profit sector.

Following release of the draft report, USGCRP provides opportunities for public engagement, comments, and additional input. All submitted comments are reviewed and taken into consideration for the final draft. 

Take Action: Learn More and Help Share the National Climate Assessment Findings

  • Watch and listen to an NCA webinar: UCS hosted a series of webinars with presentations from NCA authors to share key findings from the draft report and answer questions.
  • Help share the NCA findings: Visit NCANet to join a network of organizations working with the NCA to engage producers and users of assessment information across the United States.

What's new in the 2013 National Climate Assessment

  • Sectoral cross-cuts: A new, important advance in the next assessment is the inclusion of “sectoral cross-cuts” in recognition that multiple impacts are occurring at the same time. Some of these impacts add up to increased risks, while others may cancel each other out to some extent, causing less of a change than if the analysis were isolated to a single factor.
  • Expanded content: The 2013 report includes multiple new sections, including information on efforts related to adaptation and mitigation.
    • The new chapters in the 2013 report are: Water, Energy, and Land Use; Urban Systems, Infrastructure, and Vulnerability; Forestry; Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources; Land Use and Land Cover Change; Rural Communities; Biogeochemical Cycles; Oceans and Marine Resources; Coastal Zone Development and Ecosystems; Decision Support; Mitigation; Adaptation; and Research Agenda for Climate Change Science.
    • These are in addtion to existing chapters from the 2009 report: Our Changing Climate; Water Resources; Energy Supply and Use; Transportation, Agriculture; Forestry; Ecosystems and Biodiversity; and Human Health.
  • Continuing process: Going forward, USGCRP is moving away from producing large reports every four years and instead implementing a sustained process. Regional and sectoral activities are expected to be ongoing and reports will be produced on a more frequent basis. 
  • Learn more: For more information on the NCA and draft report, download the USGCRP fact sheet (PDF).
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