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A Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment (2013)

Chapter: Appendix C: Statement of Task

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Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2013. A Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18322.
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Appendix C

Statement of Task

Review of the National Climate Assessment 2013 Report and
Advice Regarding the Sustained Assessment Process
[note: the dates indicated below have now shifted]

 

A Panel of the NRC “Committee to Advise the U.S. Global Change Research Program” (USGCRP) will conduct an independent review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s 2013 NCA report in three phases, as described below. Advice regarding the NCA’s approach to developing a sustained assessment process is welcomed throughout this review process.

Phase I: Discussion of the preliminary key messages of the 2013 NCA report.

In a meeting involving USGCRP/NCA officials and lead authors, the Panel will hear about the preliminary key messages emerging from the NCA process and will discuss: critical concerns about the accuracy of those messages; any major issues that may have been omitted from the key messages and should be considered for inclusion in the NCA report. This will be considered in light of the fact that there is a limit to how many issues can be considered “key” in this synthesis report, and that in a sustained assessment process, there will be opportunities to address existing knowledge gaps in future interim/full synthesis reports. This discussion will held at the end of July, 2012; the only product of this effort will be a meeting recap based on NRC staff notes.

Phase II: Full Review of the draft NCA Report

The Panel will provide a written evaluation of the full draft of the 2013 NCA report and the associated supporting background material that justifies the key messages. The committee will aim to deliver this review within 90 days of receipt of the draft 2013 NCA Report, which is expected to be delivered before December 1, 2012. The review will address the following questions about the draft report:

 

•    Does the report meet the requirements of Section 106 of the GCRA?

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2013. A Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18322.
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•    Is the report responsive to the nation’s needs for information on climate variability and change in a global change context, their potential implications, and the potential effects of different response options?

•    Are the report’s key messages and graphics clear and appropriate from a communications perspective?

•    Are there any critical content areas missing from the report?

•    Are the findings documented in a consistent, transparent and credible way?

•    Does the research needs chapter address the most important gaps in existing knowledge?

•    Does the sustained assessment chapter provide an appropriate path to support the development of a sustained assessment process within USGCRP that engages regional and sectoral communities of interest?

Phase III: Discussion of the Revised Draft NCA Report

Within one month of receiving a revised draft of the 2013 NCA report and associated supporting background materials, the Panel will have a meeting to discuss the draft with USGCRP/NCA officials and lead authors, to discuss the adequacy of the changes made in response to the Panel’s earlier written review and to other comments from the general public. It is anticipated that this meeting will occur in May, 2013.

Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2013. A Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18322.
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Page 117
Suggested Citation:"Appendix C: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2013. A Review of the Draft 2013 National Climate Assessment. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/18322.
×
Page 118
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As mandated by the Global Change Research Act (GCRA), the U.S. Global Change Research Program is currently producing a "National Climate Assessment" (NCA). The NCA is a report to inform the President, the Congress, and the American people about the current state of scientific knowledge regarding climate change effects on U.S. regions and key sectors, now and in the coming decades. This document contains an evaluation of the draft NCA report, presented through consensus responses to the Panel's Task Statement questions, and through a large collection of individual Panel member comments and suggestions for specific chapters, statements, figures, etc. While focusing primarily on practical suggestions for immediately improving the current draft, the Panel also raises some broader considerations about fundamental approaches used in certain parts of the NCA report, and about the scope of USGCRP research that underlies the NCA findings. Some suggestions can be viewed as longer-term advice for future versions of NCA work.

This NCA has been a significantly more ambitious effort than previous assessments, in terms of the scope of topics addressed and the breadth of public engagement processes involved. Some of the important new areas include the use of "traceable accounts," the articulation of needs for future research and a vision for an ongoing assessment process, the outreach efforts to help various stakeholders define their climate-related information needs, and the initial (though incomplete) effort to assess the current state of climate change response activities around the nation. Given the current state of the science and the scope of resources available, we believe the NCA did a reasonable job of fulfilling its charge overall. Although more needs to be done to fully meet the nation's needs for information and guidance, such needs cannot be met without an expanded research effort on the part of the USGCRP and future assessments.

The Panel suggests that the NCA report would be improved by addressing the numerous specific problems and concerns and the more cross-cutting issues raised in the consensus answers to the Task Statement questions—which include, for instance, the need to:

1. provide a clear overarching framework for the report that helps readers understand climate change as part of a complex system with interacting physical, biological, and human social/economic dimensions, and offers practical guidance on using iterative risk management strategies to make decisions in the face of large uncertainties;

2. clearly acknowledge how climate change affects and is affected by other types of major global environmental changes and other societal developments;

3. offer an explicit discussion about the uncertainties associated with the regional model projections presented in the NCA draft;

4. take full advantage of the e-book format planned for this document through strategic use of hyperlinks among different parts of the report and other innovative approaches that help guide the experience of the NCA's diverse audiences.

As the nation continues to engage with the threats, opportunities, and surprises of climate change in its many manifestations, the 2013 NCA should prove to be a valuable resource, as a summary of the state of knowledge about climate change and its implications for the American people.

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