National Climate Assessment Report Released

January 14, 2013

On January 11, 2013, the National Climate Assessment Draft Advisory Committee (NCADAC) released a draft of the third National Climate Assessment Report.  The report reinforces previous assessments that our climate is changing now and that the change is largely caused by human actions. 

The assessment confirms that past greenhouse gas emissions have already committed us to changes in climate, including higher temperatures, more extreme weather, rising sea levels, more drought, and higher risk of fires. The extent of climate change in the future depends on our ability to reduce emissions in the future. The trends identified in the second assessment in 2009 such as general warming, changes in precipitation, and extreme weather events have continued.   Additionally, this assessment reflects the scientific community's improved capability to model future changes in our climate system.

The report includes chapters covering impacts to different regions of the United States and to sectors such as oceans, transportation, and human health.  In addition, it includes chapters focusing on cross-cutting themes and issues such as urban infrastructure and vulnerability, impacts on tribal lands and resources, and water, energy, and land use. The report supports the idea that we can no longer plan based on past climate data, and must take action to both mitigate and adapt to a changing climate.  Additionally, the report details adaptation activities that have taken place around the country at every level of government and by the private sector and individuals.

In drafting the 2013 assessment, the NCADAC requested many technical input reports from teams of experts on all facets of climate impacts.  Georgetown Climate Center staff served as contributing authors for the technical input reports, including the Coastal Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerabilities: 2012 Technical Input Report to the 2013 National Climate Assessment.  The Coastal Technical Input Report provides a detailed discussion of the vulnerabilities of coastal resources and development to climate change, and the report provides case studies of the adaptation efforts, tools and policies of that have been developed by many coastal states and localities. 

The NCADAC is a sixty-person Federal Advisory Committee supported by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The Committee produced the draft report under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and is being organized and administered by the Global Change Research Program. After review by the National Academy of Sciences and the public, the Committee will submit a revised report for consideration in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report. The draft report is open for public comment until April 12; comments can be submitted at review.globalchange.gov.