Climate change affects every region of the United States differently, and no single Federal program can tackle the full range of regional decision-support needs. Coordination at the regional scale is vital to ensuring that Federally supported science and risk management efforts best meet the information requirements of decision makers in a variety of sectors. USDA, NOAA, and DOI individually support a portfolio of complementary regional networks that deliver climate science and tools to public officials, agricultural producers, natural resource managers, and
Since 1989, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) has submitted annual reports to Congress called Our Changing Planet. The reports describe the status of USGCRP research activities, provide progress updates, and document recent accomplishments
In particular, Our Changing Planet highlights progress and accomplishments in interagency activities. These highlights represent the broad spectrum of USGCRP activities that extend from Earth system observations, modeling, and fundamental research through synthesis and assessment, decision support, education, and public engagement. Highlights describe the state of science at the time of publication of each yearly report, and may not reflect more recent advances in understanding. The date of publication of the source report is noted on each highlight page.
In the fall of 2014, several USGCRP agencies and National Coordination Office (NCO) staff supported the Climate Change Preparedness and Resilience Exercise Series, a suite of daylong workshops targeted at state- and local-level decision makers. This initiative was sponsored by the National Security Council, the Council on Environmental Quality, and OSTP, in collaboration with the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA’s) National Exercise Division. Exercises in this pilot series focused on the
The Administration launched the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit in November 2014, with support from the coordinated efforts of various USGCRP agencies—especially NOAA, USGS, USDA, NASA, USACE, and HHS (CDC and the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences). The Toolkit aims to help communities, businesses, natural resource managers, and others plan for and respond to the impacts of climate change where they live. As called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan, the Toolkit provides
The Third National Climate Assessment has provided a basis for understanding change, informing decisions, and communicating about climate, not only on a national scale but also at the regional, state, and local levels. For example, a number of USGCRP agencies are incorporating the Third NCA into their regional-scale science and decision support programs (see related Highlight 15). NOAA and partners have developed regionally tailored guides based on the Third NCA for educators teaching climate (see related Highlight 25). USGCRP supported a series of scenario-
When the Third National Climate Assessment was released in May 2014, it made headlines in national and international media, local news outlets in every region of the country, and Federal, NGO, academic, and trade publications. The thousands of stories, blog posts, op-eds, and even comedy shows that have mentioned the Third NCA attest to its expansive reach, suggesting that the report is both in demand and accessible. But how can its success be measured, and how can that success be improved upon in the next quadrennial NCA?
As a first step in answering
Scenarios are descriptions of plausible future conditions—either narrative or quantitative—that provide a basis for analyzing potential impacts of and responses to global change. Scenarios are not predictions or forecasts; rather, they are tools to understand how future conditions might evolve under a range of possible decisions. By providing detailed examples of how different factors could change and interact, scenarios constrain uncertainty and offer valuable input for assessments. USGCRP is working toward scenarios of change that can feed into the
With leadership by EPA, NOAA, and HHS agencies including CDC and the National Institutes of Health (NIH), USGCRP is continuing development of its Climate and Health Assessment, a contribution to the sustained assessment process that will support the next quadrennial NCA report. The USGCRP Climate and Health Assessment will address the need for a more definitive understanding of climate impacts on public health, as called for in the President’s Climate Action Plan. It will synthesize
Following on a draft edition released in March 2014, the Working Group II (WGII) of the IPCC recently delivered its full contribution to AR5, the IPCC’s latest authoritative global assessment of climate change. The product of years of work by leading experts from around the world, the WGII contribution is a thorough examination of the worldwide impacts of climate change and the opportunities for response. It is organized into two report volumes
USGCRP agencies are at the center of a new initiative to advance climate education, literacy, and training in the United States. Led by OSTP, the interagency Climate Education and Literacy Initiative aims to connect students and citizens with the best-available scientific information about climate change. Agencies will apply their individual expertise to this unified Federal effort—for example:
The National Park Service will develop a
Citizen science—or the engagement of volunteers in scientific investigations—is a fast-growing field. By collecting data on natural phenomena such as the timing of bird migrations and plant flowering—sometimes from their own backyard—citizen scientists provide essential baseline information about key environmental indicators, in addition to strengthening their own awareness of and connection to their local environment. Citizen science has long been an important component of scientific endeavors and public engagement at USGCRP agencies such as DOI (particularly NPS and...