NCA4 Vol. I and II: FAQs
What is the U.S. Global Change Research Program? What does it do?
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.
What is the National Climate Assessment and why is it written?
Through the GCRA, USGCRP is mandated to produce a quadrennial assessment, which has become known as the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA is required to a) integrate, evaluate, and interpret the findings of the Program and discuss the scientific uncertainties associated with such findings; b) 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, and c) analyze current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and project major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.
What about previous NCAs?
To date, three NCAs have been released. The first NCA was published in 2000, and the second was published in 2009. More information on these reports can be accessed here. The third NCA, Climate Change Impacts in the United States was published in 2014 and released in printable format and as an interactive website. The Fourth NCA (NCA4) builds on the work of these previous assessments. It is being developed in two volumes, and is expected to be completed in December 2018.
Is the Climate Science Special Report just another name for the Fourth National Climate Assessment? What’s the relationship between the two reports? How are they different?
For the Third NCA (released in 2014), authors developed a large physical science appendix. In the early planning stages for NCA4, it was decided that to best inform the impacts assessment, the physical science assessment should be completed in advance. As a result, NCA4 is being developed in two sequential volumes.
Volume I, the Climate Science Special Report, or CSSR, was released in November 2017. The CSSR assesses the science of climate change, with a focus on the United States. It is intended to serve as the foundation for efforts to assess climate-related risks and inform decision-making about responses. The findings in CSSR are based on a large body of scientific, peer-reviewed research, as well as a number of other publicly available sources, including well-established and carefully evaluated observational and modeling datasets.
NCA4 Volume II: Impacts, Risks and Adaptation in the United States, is a technical, scientific assessment of climate change-related impacts, risks, and adaptation. It assesses a range of potential impacts, helping decision makers better identify risks that could be avoided or reduced. Volume II was released in draft form for public comment in November 2017. The draft findings in Volume II of NCA4 are based on a large body of scientific, peer-reviewed research, as well as a number of other publicly available sources, including well-established and carefully evaluated observational and modeling datasets. A number of these sources were received through a public call for technical inputs to Volume II of NCA4.
Do either of the reports offer policy recommendations?
Consistent with common practice for USGCRP assessment products, both Volume I and Volume II of NCA4 are technical scientific assessments. Neither makes policy recommendations or evaluates existing or proposed policies.
NCA4 Vol. I: Climate Science Special Report
Who wrote the CSSR?
CSSR is the responsibility of the Subcommittee on Global Change Research (SGCR), which directs the activities of USGCRP. The SGCR established a Federal Science Steering Committee (SSC) to direct the CSSR project. A team of three Coordinating Lead Authors, selected by the SSC, led the report’s development. CSSR was written by a team of 32 Lead Authors, including scientists from Federal agencies, academia, and the private sector. These authors were nominated through a public process and selected by the SSC for their expertise. Contributing authors were invited to provide input on specific topics, as needed.
What was the review process?
CSSR was subjected to a rigorous, six-step review process. The Zero Order Draft was reviewed by the author team. The First and Second Order Drafts were reviewed by the SSC and SGCR, respectively. The Third Order Draft of CSSR was released for public comment and simultaneous review by an expert panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine in December 2016. This review resulted in a Fourth Order Draft that underwent an additional round of interagency review in May 2017. Authors responded to those comments and produced a Fifth Order Draft, which was subject to Final Federal Clearance.
How long has this report been in production?
CSSR has been in production since early 2015.
Can I use this report to [teach a class, etc]?
Yes. Unless otherwise stated, all information and figures in this report are in the public domain. We just ask that you use the appropriate citation when using this document.
NCA4 Vol. II: Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States
Who is writing this report?
Volume II of NCA4 is being written by more than 300 Federal and non-Federal authors representing a range of expertise, a number of whom were selected through a public call for author nominations.
What is the review process?
Volume II of NCA4 is subject to a rigorous, multi-step review process, including a public comment period and a simultaneous review by an expert panel of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. Review Editors have been selected through a public nominations process and are tasked with ensuring that authors adequately respond to all comments received during the public and National Academies review periods. By the time the report is finalized and released, it will also have undergone at least four rounds of interagency review.
How long has this report been in production?
Planning for Volume II of NCA4 began shortly after the release of the Third NCA in 2014. The draft prospectus was released for public comment in the summer of 2016.
When will this report be released?
Volume II of NCA4 is scheduled for release in late 2018, in keeping with the quadrennial mandate.
How will Volume II of NCA4 differ from NCA3?
Most fundamentally, the majority of the report’s focus has shifted from national-level chapters to regional chapters, in response to public demand for more localized information on climate impacts. As a result, the regional chapters provide more detail, the Great Plains chapter has been split into separate Northern and Southern Great Plains chapters, and a new chapter focusing exclusively on the U.S. Caribbean has been added. Volume II also reflects a number of advances in the science of climate change impacts and adaptation with the inclusion of new national-level chapters on Air Quality; Climate Effects on U.S. International Interests; and a chapter on Sectoral Interdependencies, Multiple Stressors and Complex Systems. Finally, and again in response to public feedback and input, the report reflects three cross-cutting contextual advances: (1) added international context, (2) enhanced coverage of the economic impacts, and (3) greater focus on risk-based framing.
Public comment period
Why did you ask for public comment on this report?
Public review and comment is vital to the development of this assessment. While author teams were carefully selected to bring a variety of expertise and diversity of views, the public may be aware of additional scientific information or case studies that warrant consideration. This is a report that is intended to inform and be responsive to the needs of the Nation, and the authors want it to be a useful and practical resource for educators, decisionmakers, and the American public.
How could the public read and comment on this report?
The public draft of NCA4 Vol. II was posted on USGCRP's Review and Comment site, review.globalchange.gov. Users were able to access the draft assessment and submit their comments through the online system.
How long was the public comment period?
The public comment period opened on 03 November 2017 and closed at 11:59PM ET on 31 January 2018. More information can be found in the Federal Register Notice.
If I submitted comments on this report, will the authors read them?
All comments will be read and responded to. Each chapter is assigned a Review Editor, who is tasked with ensuring that authors adequately respond to all comments received during the public and National Academies review periods.
Can I use this draft report to [teach a class, etc.]?
Not yet. Volume II of NCA4 is still a draft document, and as such should not be cited, quoted, or distributed. Until Volume II of the NCA4 is released in late 2018, please refer to the Third NCA, available at nca2014.globalchange.gov, or Volume I of NCA4, the Climate Science Special Report, available at science2017.globalchange.gov.
April 23, 2018