Climate Change History 101: the United State’s Climate Assessments

What a mouthful. I apologize on behalf of the U.S. for these ones.

While the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was born in 1988, the United States had something of their own cookin’. Since 1989, we’ve had one group that had undergone a quick name change from USGCRP to CCSP 2002-2008, and back again to USGCRP in 2009.

Climate Change Science in the United States Government

USGCRP = U.S. Global Change Research Program 1990-2002; 2009 onwards

Here we have team responsible for reviewing and updating the United State’s long-term national global change research plan, which was initiated as the Global Change Research act of 1990.

The USGCRP takes climate change assessments (i.e., unbiased evaluation on existing climate change research) that directly impact the U.S. and submits these reports to Congress no less than every four years. These scientific assessments evaluated the potential consequences of global change for the U.S.

The first report covered multiple sectors (agriculture, water health, forests, coastal areas and marine), included teams of scientists, stakeholders, managers, and began in 1997. By 2000, final reports were provided to the President and Congress.

CCSP = U.S. Climate Change Science Program 2002-2008

Unlike the USGCRP, the CCSP prepared scientific syntheses and assessment analyses that supported the evaluation of policy.  Between 2002 and 2008, 21 different reports overseen by multiple federal agencies were submitted.

Back to USGCRP, with a few changes

Since 2008,  the CCSP has functioned under USGCRP, with a few minor changes. The following report, Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States, is now organized by sector and region. “Listening sessions” engage stakeholders. Finally, the reports are now conducted by the National Academy of Sciences, rather than overseen by multiple government agencies.

The most recent national assessment was written up under the National Climate Assessment Development and Advisory Committee (NCADAC) in 2014, with supervision by the National Academy of Sciences. Regions and sectors of the country were represented by teams of scientists and stakeholders, who were responsible for providing input for the NCADAC writing teams.

Also included was the goal to provide a framework that would guide ongoing assessments, since these reports space out by quite a few years.

Check out the 2014 National Climate Assessment report here. Links to technical input reports by the regions and sectors are also available.

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