Climate Science Special Report
The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) was established by Presidential initiative in 1989 and mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act (GCRA) of 1990. Its mandate is to develop and coordinate “a comprehensive and integrated United States research program which will assist the Nation and the world to understand, assess, predict, and respond to human-induced and natural processes of global change.”
USGCRP comprises 13 Federal agencies that conduct or use research on global change and its impacts on society, in support of the Nation's response to global change.
USGCRP functions under the direction of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (SGCR) of the National Science and Technology Council’s Committee on Environment, Natural Resources, and Sustainability (CENRS).
USGCRP has three major sets of responsibilities: (a) coordinating global change research across the Federal government, (b) development and distribution of mandated products, and (c) informing decisions.
One of the statutorily mandated products is a quadrennial assessment that USGCRP prepares and submits to the President and the Congress. This quadrennial assessment, referred to as the National Climate Assessment, is directed by the GCRA to:
- Integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the Program and discuss the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings
- 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
- Analyze current trends in global change, both human- induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.
The current quadrennial assessment, scheduled to be released in late 2018, is being developed in two parts: the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) and the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4). CSSR is a scientific analysis that addresses requirements (1) and (3) in the list above. NCA4 uses that scientific assessment to inform an analysis of the impacts of global change on the sectors specified in (2) above, while expanding upon elements of (1) and (3), as appropriate.
What is the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR)?
The CSSR is a component of the current quadrennial assessment.
The report development is overseen by the SGCR through a Federal Science Steering Committee (SSC), made up of representatives from USGCRP agencies and appointed by the SGCR. NOAA serves as the administrative agency for CSSR (i.e., NOAA established the procedures for the report and released Federal Register Notices).
The SSC selected three Coordinating Lead Authors, all of whom were Federal employees during the development of this report. Following a public call (via Federal Register Notice) for technical contributor nominations in March 2016, the SSC endorsed writing team selections, consisting of scientists representing Federal agencies, national laboratories, universities, and the private sector. Contributing Authors were selected based on specific needs identified by the authors. Review Editors were chosen from the technical contributor pool and endorsed by SSC to ensure that authors adequately responded to all comments received during the public and National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review periods.
Planning for the report began in early 2015 with a prospectus developed in the summer of that year. That was followed by the development of process guidance and the naming of author teams. Writing began in April 2016 and an initial draft was made available for public comment in December 2016. A series of technical expert reviews were conducted throughout the report’s development. SGCR is responsible for its final clearance and, ultimately, its public release.
- Fall: SGCR approves report prospectus
- March: Federal Register Notice call for technical contributor nominations
- Spring/Summer: First Order Draft development
- Summer: SSC review, author revision and editorial cleanup (Second Order Draft)
- Fall/Winter: SGCR review, author revision, editorial cleanup and SSC signoff (Third Order Draft)
- Winter 2016/Spring 2017: Third Order Draft released for public comment and National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine review
- Spring: Author revision and editorial cleanup (Fourth Order Draft)
- Spring/Summer: SGCR review, author revision and editorial cleanup (Fifth Order Draft)
- 21 July: Fifth Order Draft sent to SGCR agencies for clearance
- 18 August: Deadline for SGCR agency clearance
- Fall: Final production, layout and website development
- November 2017: Planned public release date