New to the 2013 National Climate Assessment Report is a chapter on Decision Support. This chapter represents an initial attempt to synthesize the state of decision support for decisions that consider climate change, variability and impacts and to highlight best practices for use of climate information in a range of decision contexts. Two major themes emerged in the development of this chapter: 1) the critical nature of an inclusive, adaptive decision process, such as an “iterative adaptive risk management” framework, and 2) there are a number of existing decision support tools to support adaptation and mitigation decisions. One of the future decision support assessment needs is to pool information about different decision support needs and capabilities, and to assess experience with available tools.
In addition to the development of a chapter on decision support, the “conduct sustained assessments” and “informing decisions” strategic goals of the U.S. Global Change Research Program support the development of ongoing decision support products, namely the Global Change Information System (GCIS), scenarios, and indicators. The vision is a system of physical, ecological, and societal indicators that communicate key aspects of the physical climate, climate impacts, vulnerabilities, and preparedness for the purpose of informing both decision-makers and the public with scientifically valid information that is useful to inform decision-making processes, such as the development and implementation of climate adaptation strategies in a particular sector or region. These indicators will be tracked as a part of ongoing assessment activities, with adjustments as necessary to adapt to changing conditions and understanding. The indicators will be reviewed and updated so that the system adapts to new information.