Fifth National Climate Assessment Update: March 2022
Through the efforts of USGCRP, authors, NOAA’s Technical Support Unit, and support staff, the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) has moved from the planning phase to putting pen to paper. Here is a look back at recent accomplishments:
Gathering a diverse team of authors. In the spring and summer of 2021, the NCA5 Federal Steering Committee selected the report’s Federal coordinating leads and chapter leads. Chapter leadership selected a diverse group of more than 450 experts from across the country to serve as authors. These authors—representing 48 states, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, Guam, and Palau—are bringing a wide range of professional and lived experiences to NCA5. They are academics, Federal scientists, members of Indigenous communities, educators, extension officers, civil servants, healthcare practitioners, adaptation specialists, and more. Two thirds of the authors are contributing to the NCA for the first time.
Preparing the team for success. Last fall, USGCRP hosted the first all-author meeting to provide training on foundational NCA topics: author roles and responsibilities, legal guidelines, source material requirements, timeline, figure development, documentation, and more. A key element of this training included discussion of themes that cut across chapter topics, such as environmental justice and Indigenous perspectives. Training has continued with monthly sessions dedicated to topics such as climate scenarios, integrating social sciences, and economics. Upcoming sessions focus on issues critical to producing a credible, authoritative assessment that meets the highest scientific integrity and transparency standards, such as development of traceable accounts, documentation of metadata for each figure, and the use of Indigenous knowledge.
Development of chapter outlines. Writing teams began scoping their chapters, considering what important aspects of their region or sector are most at risk due to a changing climate. Following agency reviews, response to comments, and revisions, each author team delivered an annotated outline of their chapter. These annotated outlines were released for public comment on January 7, 2022, kicking off our 45-day public comment period and the public engagement workshops.
Public engagement. Taking public comments on the NCA5 chapter outlines is a new step in the NCA process, aimed at expanding transparency, enhancing public engagement in the process, and gathering input at an early stage of development to help inform the scope and approach of the assessment. Building on the success of the NCA4 regional workshops, USGCRP hosted 34 public engagement workshops during the open comment period. Approximately 2800 people participated virtually in discussions, break-out rooms, and through interactive collaborative tools used to collect feedback.
First drafts. After incorporating feedback from the public, authors teams submitted their first order drafts last week. Over the coming months, these drafts will continue to evolve as author teams coordinate across chapters and incorporate input from agency reviews.
Next steps. There will be more opportunities for public engagement this year, including a call for Review Editors and a request for public comment on the third order draft of NCA5. For more information on NCA5, including updates on opportunities to participate, visit http://www.globalchange.gov/nca5 or subscribe to our newsletter.