Federal Coordinating Lead Author:
David Reidmiller, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Lead Author:
Christopher W. Avery, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Contributing Authors:
Therese (Tess) S. Carter, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Katie Reeves, U.S. Global Change Research Program
Kristin Lewis, U.S. Global Change Research Program

Report Development Process

The concept of, motivation for, and ideas to inform a sustained assessment process were articulated in Chapter 30 of NCA3, “Sustained Assessment: A New Vision for Future U.S. Assessments,”23 and the NCADAC Special Report, “Preparing the Nation for Change: Building a Sustained National Climate Assessment Process.”24 In addition, the Interagency National Climate Assessment (INCA) Working Group provided thought leadership and implementation options in response to recommendations laid out in the above reports.

NCA4 was developed within a sustained assessment framework and process, drawing on these previous efforts, as well as an evaluation of the NCA3 process.5 As part of this sustained assessment process, NCA4 built on and utilized products, indicators, and tools developed since NCA3 (many of which are described in detail in App. 3: Data & Scenarios). In addition, in response to gaps identified in NCA3, NCA4 is placed in a broader international context (detailed in the new chapter “Climate Effects on U.S. International Interests” and in the new appendix “Looking Abroad: How Other Nations Approach a National Climate Assessment”). The Climate Change Impacts and Risk Analysis (CIRA) project responds to a recommendation for additional work on quantifying the economic impacts of climate change across sectors of the American economy.10 The CIRA report’s project leaders not only provided information tailored to each NCA4 region and most sectors but also worked with many individual chapters through webinars, conference calls, and other collaborative interactions. Guidance on uncertainty and confidence treatment was also provided early on to NCA4 authors, responding to another sustained assessment recommendation.

While the aforementioned efforts provided a useful foundation on which NCA4 could be informed through a sustained assessment lens, greater efficiency and efficacy can be realized under a sustained assessment framework. In an effort to make that a reality, two groups were constituted to further elucidate what such a process could look like.

The Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment (ACSNCA) was a 15-member federal advisory committee established by the Department of Commerce on behalf of the USGCRP to advise SGCR on the sustained assessment process and stakeholder engagement. Its primary focus was not on NCA4 but on future assessment processes and engagement work around the NCAs. The ACSNCA met in person biannually and more frequently on teleconferences, with its first in-person meeting being held in September 2016. The original two-year charter for the ACSNCA expired in 2017 and was not renewed.

The Sustained Assessment Interagency Working Group (SAWG) provides an interagency forum for agencies to deliberate upon ideas for the various components composing a sustained assessment process. The SAWG holds monthly meetings attended by a diverse array of interagency experts, including SGCR Principals, USGCRP Interagency Working Group co-chairs and members, NCA4 Federal Steering Committee members, representatives from regional science organizations (for example, NOAA Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments offices, DOI Climate Adaptation Science Centers, USDA Climate Hubs, etc.), and staff at the NCA4 Technical Support Unit. The SAWG first met in early 2017, when members began by reorienting themselves with the NCADAC recommendations and the options put forward by INCA. In ensuing months, thematic issues were discussed, bringing in outside experts to suggest ideas for next steps on a range of topics, including foundational elements, data tools and scenario products, special reports, user engagement, contributor engagement, harvesting assessments for research priorities, evaluation, and a vision and process for NCA5 and beyond.

The ultimate objective is to develop a process that includes activities inside and outside the Federal Government, makes efficient use of limited federal resources, and—importantly—is informed by and responsive to evolving user needs.

See Full Chapter & References