Today the extensive government report titled the National Climate Assessment was released through the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The report outlines the negative effects of climate change for the U.S. and explores that many of these effects are already taking shape. Although the content is grim, the report is a positive step in addressing climate change at the national scale and garnering support to do so through informing the public as to the risks of not doing anything. The report was written by 300 experts guided by a 60-member Federal Advisory Committee and reviewed by members of federal agencies and scientific community. This is the third of its kind; one in 2000, 2009, and is scheduled to be released every 4 years.
The National Climate Assessment can be explored through climate change effects by region, taking mitigation and adaptation closer to home and illustrating that climate change doesn’t just mean warming. The symptoms of climate change vary across regions and landscapes. Results can also be explored in regards to overall climate change, extreme weather, the future of climate, widespread impact, human health, water supply, agriculture, indigenous people, ecosystems and biodiversity, oceans, and responses. Important highlights include:
- U.S. average temperatures increased by 1.3 to 1.9ºF since record-keeping began in 1895; most of this warming since 1970
- Heavy precipitation has increased in many parts of the country while sea level rise has increased coastal erosion and storm surge damage
- Extreme weather such as heat waves, droughts, floods, and North Atlantic hurricanes are more frequent and/or intense
- Summer sea ice in the Arctic has halved since record-keeping began in 1979
- Current infrastructure is outdated and not adequate to withstand these changing conditions.
- Barriers to adaptation include limited funding, policy and legal impediments, and difficulty in anticipating climate-related changes at local scales.
- Climate change adaptation is not a one size fits all approach and is interconnected; examples of changes for state and local governments can make to be more resilient are provided.
Report available here: http://nca2014.globalchange.gov/