the credibility of some report elements. Significantly, there was a lingering perception by some members of the political administration that received the document that the National Assessment was politically motivated, introducing questions about its legitimacy.


  • A well-defined mandate stemming from the GCRA and supported by the Office of the President.

  • Well-articulated questions and defined regions and sectors, both of which determined its scope.

  • Extensive involvement of experts from all regions and sectors.

  • Considerable involvement of a broad range of other stakeholders.

  • Broad and extensive review.

  • A deliberate, well-planned communication strategy.


  • The assessment effort was late in getting started, which resulted in the near-simultaneous development of climate scenarios, team guidance, actual regional and sector team efforts, and synthesis. A phased or nested approach would have allowed a phased comment and review and improved opportunities to address issues and problems (e.g., the selection of specific climate model scenarios) as they arose. A prompt start of the work and phased approach would have provided a more reasoned path from sector and regional reports to synthesis.

  • The assessment did not have robust funding for regional and sectoral analyses. Lack of funding for some teams and delayed funding for others resulted in unevenness in the team reports, exacerbating the difficulty in creating a coherent and consistent high-quality synthesis of all regions and sectors.

  • A change in political administration coincided with the release of the report. With this change, the process lost legitimacy among the new decision makers because it was considered a politically motivated product of the prior administration.


The ACIA was undertaken under the auspices of the eight-nation Arctic Council in response to growing concern about how global warming and a host of other environmental impacts (e.g., ultraviolet [UV] radiation increases from ozone depletion, air and water contamination, habitat alteration) affect the sustainability of the Arctic environment with its unique array of ecosystem services, wildlife, and indigenous peoples (ACIA 2004, 2005). The ACIA was conceived when it became clear that assessments by

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