National Climate Assessment Physical Indicators Workshop Report Available (Sept. 19, 2011) Print E-mail

September 19, 2011

The National Climate Assessment Physical Climate Indicators Workshop Report is now available in its final published format here.

The National Climate Assessment (NCA) convened a workshop on “Physical Climate Indicators” from 29 to 30 March, 2011 as part of a series on “Monitoring Climate Change and its Impacts”. The overarching goal of this workshop was to identify a few broad categories of potential physical climate indicators using a set of priorities developed by the NCA, and to provide a clear justification for how they would inform the Nation about climate change. Additional goals included providing input on the overall NCA framework for selecting the indicators and suggesting methodologies to construct indicators. Although one of the workshop goals was to address the status of current observational networks to support indicators, this was not a main focus of any single discussion. The nearly 60 participants, primarily from federal agencies, received a white paper in advance of the workshop that detailed the NCA vision for a coordinated suite of climate-related physical, ecological, and societal indicators. The intent of these “national indicators of change” is to develop a way to evaluate and communicate over time both the rate of change in impacts and the capacity to respond to climate drivers. These indicators will be tracked as a part of ongoing, long-term assessment activities, with adjustments as necessary to adapt to changing conditions and understanding. An initial framework was provided to workshop participants to ensure that everyone understood the proposed audience, scope, and purpose of the indicators. A common lexicon was defined since indicator terminology varies widely. In addition, several potential approaches to grouping the indicators were presented. 

The NCA Report Series summarizes regional, sectoral, and process-related workshops and discussions being held as part of the third NCA process. This workshop focused on monitoring changes in the physical climate system, as part of a series that includes workshops on the impacts of climate change on ecosystems and socioeconomic systems. The workshop was held in Washington, D.C. on March 29-30, 2011. Volume 5b of the NCA Report Series summarizes the discussions and outcomes of this workshop. A list of planned and completed reports in the NCA Report Series can be found online at