First National Climate Assessment: Background and Process Print E-mail

Workshops of the First National Climate Assessment

In February 1997, the U.S. Global Change Research Program and the Office of Science and Technology Policy initiated a series of Regional Climate Change Workshops with the goal of starting the process of examining the vulnerabilities of regions of the United States to climate variability and climate change.

What was initially intended to be three or four workshops developed into a series of twenty, covering every state and territory of the United States. The workshops span from May 1997 to September 1998 and represented the first step in conducting a regional assessment.

Each workshop was sponsored by one or more government agencies,and was carried out by coordinators from local institutions. For details on each workshop, including its geographic coverage, see:

Engaging Stakeholders

High priority was placed on the process of engaging a network of stakeholders in a dialogue about vulnerabilities and coping mechanisms. The goal was to begin a two way process of interaction: scientists gained input from the stakeholders about their information needs, and the stakeholders learned from the scientists about climate change projections, and possible consequences in the region.

Each workshop was focused on four central questions:

  1. What are the current stresses and issues for the region?
  2. What are the expected consequences of climate change and variability and how will these interact with existing stressors?
  3. What are the priority research and information needs?
  4. What coping options exist that can build resilience and possibly assist the climate change problem?

Workshop Products

Before each workshop, organizers developed one or more "white papers" to guide discussions. In some cases, these served as preliminary text for a final report; in other cases, they served to initiate discussion among participants. These reports are accessible via individual regional websites.

Following each workshop, organizers guided the preparation of a final report. Although these reports reflected special regional needs, they contained some standard elements:

  • Description of the region's environmental, demographic, and economic conditions.
  • Identification of vulnerabilities to climate variability and change.
  • Identification of adaptation and resource management options.
  • Definition of research needs for improving estimates of regional vulnerabilities, and consequences of climate variability and change, and analyzing viable response options.
  • Initial plan for a regional assessment.

Beyond the Workshops: Regional Assessments

The workshops were a first step in conducting regional assessments, serving to scope key issues and information needs. As a next step, each region was asked to expand upon the ideas and enthusiasm generated in the workshop by:

  • Conducting a more in-depth, quantitative analysis of key issues
  • Continuing to engage the network of stakeholders in an ongoing dialogue

Click on the buttons below to view the workshop and assessment reports for regions that are still available online.



Timelines

Click the buttons below to view an example of what a regional and sectoral assessment timeline looked like.

  • 1997 - Regional workshop to scope out key issues and concerns of regional stakeholders (annual meeting in Aspen in August).
  • 1998 - Analytical phase, applying models to selected issues; stakeholder involvement continues (annual meeting in Monterey in July).
  • April 10-12, 1999 - Meeting of regions, sectors and Synthesis Team in Atlanta.
  • September 1999 - Technical review of available regional reports.
  • December 1999 - Available volumes go to the printer.
  • January 2000 - First regional reports become available; others appear throughout the year.
  • January 2001 - Proposed executive summary of regional assessments or specialvolume of a journal.
  • 1998 - Sectors are selected; teams are appointed; analytical work begins.
  • April 10-12, 1999 - Meeting of regions, sectors and Synthesis Team in Atlanta.
  • September 1999 - Technical review of available sectoral reports.
  • December 1999 - Available volumes go to the printer.
  • January 2000 - First sectoral reports become available; others appear throughout the year.
  • January 2001 - Proposed executive summary of sectoral reports, or special volume of a journal.