How Assessments Inform Responses to Climate Change

Friday, February 17, 2017: 1:00 PM-2:30 PM
Room 313 (Hynes Convention Center)
Richard Moss, Joint Global Change Research Institute, College Park, MD
"Assessments" have traditionally taken the form of reports focused on (1) physical science evaluations of how natural systems function and are being altered; (2) "so what" questions related to impacts of change; (3) "now what" issues related to response options; and (4) integrated assessment modeling of "if we do this, what benefits and costs can we expect?" Assessment reports have helped inform policy and decision making by identifying issues, defining policy challenges, resolving conflicting scientific claims, supporting implementation, and evaluating effectiveness and adaptive management. But information needs of users are placing new demands on assessments, as interdependent socioeconomic, infrastructure, and environmental systems undergo rapid change, and investment in long-lived infrastrcuture is planned. "Sustained Assessment" constitutes a new approach to build on fundamental science and traditional assessment reports by (1) tailoring existing science and diversifying products and tools; (2) distributing responsibility for conducting assessments beyond the Federal government; (3) building capacity; and (4) developing sustained partnerships and dialogues among users and producers of scientific information. This presentation will briefly review some of these trends, including activities outside the Federal government, and discuss the role of a Federal Advisory Committee chartered to gather information, evaluate strengths and weaknesses of current developments, and suggest options for innovating assessments to make them more useful in addressing emerging challenges.