<strong>Avery</strong>, C.W., D.R. Reidmiller, M. Kolian, K.E. Kunkel, D. Herring, R. Sherman, W.V. Sweet, K. Tipton, and C. Weaver, 2018: Data Tools and Scenario Products. In <em>Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II</em> [Reidmiller, D.R., C.W. Avery, D.R. Easterling, K.E. Kunkel, K.L.M. Lewis, T.K. Maycock, and B.C. Stewart (eds.)]. U.S. Global Change Research Program, Washington, DC, USA, pp. 1413–1430. doi: <a href='http://doi.org/10.7930/NCA4.2018.AP3'>10.7930/NCA4.2018.AP3</a>
Data Tools and Scenarios Products
The USGCRP hosts an interagency climate-related indicator platform at http://www.globalchange.gov/browse/indicators. Climate indicators for this purpose are defined as observations or other measures that are used to track the state of or the trend in conditions with a scientifically based relationship to the changing climate. For example, businesses might look at the unemployment index as one of a number of indicators representing the condition of the economy. Similarly, indicators related to climate—which may be physical, ecological, or societal—can be used to understand how environmental conditions are changing, to assess risks and vulnerabilities, and to help inform resilience and planning for climate impacts.
One of the primary goals of the USGCRP indicators effort is to support a sustained National Climate Assessment process by regularly tracking variables relevant to climate change. USGCRP and its participating agencies intend to maintain the indicators as a living resource, routinely updating them with new data. In addition, the indicators effort serves as a platform for USGCRP agencies to showcase data collection efforts and to highlight research related to indicators of change across a range of sectors.
The USGCRP indicators are not intended to be representative of all potential indicators across all possible scales; rather, they are meant to communicate several key aspects of climate change, such as temperatures over land and at sea, greenhouse gas (GHG) levels in the atmosphere, the extent of arctic sea ice, and related effects in sectors like public health, water resources, and agriculture. All of the indicators show climate-related trends over time and meet established criteria related to data quality.13 Similar to the findings and figures in NCA3 and other NCA reports and products, the indicators’ underlying datasets are documented in USGCRP’s Global Change Information System (GCIS).
USGCRP’s indicator platform currently includes 15 representative global and national-level climate indicators:14
- annual GHG index
- arctic glacial mass balance
- arctic sea ice extent
- atmospheric carbon dioxide
- frost-free season
- global surface temperatures
- heating and cooling degree days
- heavy precipitation
- ocean chlorophyll concentrations
- sea level rise (global)
- sea surface temperatures
- start of spring
- terrestrial carbon storage
- U.S. heat waves
- U.S. surface temperatures
Figure A3.2: Climate Change Indicators
Click on a topic or on the thumbnails below the image to see a relevant indicator.
Additional Indicator Resources
Several U.S. federal agencies make available climate-relevant indicators and their underlying data. For example, the EPA partners with more than 40 data contributors from various government agencies, academic institutions, and other organizations to compile a key set of nearly 40 indicators related to the causes and effects of climate change. The indicators are published in the EPA’s report Climate Change Indicators in the United States. Updated datasets can be found on the EPA website.17 To provide a more comprehensive resource to NCA4 authors and the broader public, readers can access a much more expansive suite of climate indicators, many at a regional scale, here: https://www.epa.gov/climate-indicators.
The EPA’s climate indicators effort is meant to communicate the causes and effects of climate change in the areas of atmospheric composition, weather and climate, oceans, snow and ice, health and society, and ecosystems. All of the indicators are based on historical observations (no projections), are independently peer-reviewed, and are routinely updated with new data.
A variety of other readily accessible federal climate indicator resources are available for public use, including
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) National Environmental Public Health Tracking network: https://ephtracking.cdc.gov/showClimateChangeIndicators,
EPA’s U.S. Inventory of Greenhouse Gas Emissions and Sinks: https://www.epa.gov/ghgemissions/inventory-us-greenhouse-gas-emissions-and-sinks,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s (NASA) Global Climate Change: Vital Signs of the Planet: https://climate.nasa.gov/,
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Arctic Program, Arctic Report Card: http://www.arctic.noaa.gov/Report-Card, and
NOAA’s State of the Climate: https://www.ncdc.noaa.gov/sotc/.
Other relevant sources of indicator information include
NOAA’s State Summaries: stateclimatesummaries.globalchange.gov, and
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