Climate Change Indicators in the United States, 2012, Environmental Protection Agency (Dec. 10, 2012). This report finds that trends including rising temperatures, shifting snow and rainfall patterns, and more extreme weather events are evidence of global climate change, and these changes can be linked to greenhouse gasses in the atmosphere resulting from human activities. The report presents a set of 26 indicators of climate change focusing primarily on the United States, but in some cases global trends are presented to provide context or a basis for comparison. The report updates EPA’s 2010 report on the issue, adding three new indicators: total snowfall, streamflow changes, and the length of the ragweed pollen season.
Report to Congress on Black Carbon (March 30, 2012). The Environmental Protection Agency has issued a report on the environmental and human health effects of black carbon. The report says that as a component of particulate air pollution, black carbon contributes to respiratory and cardiovascular disease. However, the individual effects of black carbon are difficult to differentiate from the effects of other particulates. The report also says that black carbon contributes to climate change by retaining heat and increasing the rate at which ice and snow melt, but also plays a role in cloud formation, which has a cooling effect.
EPA Awards $6.6 Million in Grants to Fund Black Carbon Research (Oct. 18, 2011). EPA has announced the awarding of grants totaling $6.6 million to fund research on the impact of “black carbon,” or soot, emissions on global climate change. The agency is awarding nine grants to eight universities through its Science to Achieve Results (STAR) program. The research projects include efforts to improve black carbon emissions inventories, measure black carbon emissions from small industrial facilities in developing nations, develop new atmospheric models for black carbon, and quantify its impact on the melting of snow in northern latitudes
NASA Global Climate Change website. This website, produced by NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, is designed to provide the public with easy-to-understand information on the causes and effects of climate change and how the agency studies it. Highlights include a continuously updated snapshot of the planet’s health, based on NASA data on climate indicators such as the condition of ice sheets, global average temperatures, sea level change, and concentrations of key greenhouse gases. The website also includes interactive visualizations of current climate data; background articles on climate change evidence, causes and effects, uncertainties, and possible solutions; and the latest news and features on NASA climate research.
Just 5 Questions: Weather vs. Climate (June 2010). This interview with Dr. Eric Fetzer, a scientist at NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory, answers a series of questions about climate change, including the difference between the terms “weather” and “climate.” Dr. Fetzer explains that the generally accepted distinction between the two is based on monthly timescales: “weather describes how the atmosphere behaves over weeks or less. Climate is how it behaves over time periods of about a month or longer.”
Federal Advisory Committee Draft National Climate Assessment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Jan. 11, 2013). This draft climate assessment report of the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee (NCADAC) projects that climate change will cause coastal and river flooding in the northeastern United States in addition to heat waves, droughts, and other impacts across the country. NCADAC oversees the development of the National Climate Assessment, which is due to Congress every four years and is expected to be completed in February 2014. Comments on the draft climate assessment report are due April 12, 2013.
State of the Climate: National Overview Annual 2012, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Jan. 8, 2013). This annual overview report of U.S. climate conditions finds that 2012 was the warmest on record for the contiguous United States, with the average annual temperature of 55.3 degrees Fahrenheit representing 3.2 degrees above the 20th century average. The report also finds that 2012 was the second most extreme year on record, coming just behind 1998 on the U.S. Climate Extremes Index, which measures extremes in temperature and precipitation as well as landfalling tropical cyclones
2012 U.S. Billion-Dollar Extreme Weather/Climate Events, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Dec. 20, 2012). NOAA has released preliminary information on extreme weather and climate events in the U.S. in 2012 that are known to have reached the $1 billion threshold in losses. As of Dec. 20, NOAA estimated that there were 11 such events in 2012, including seven severe weather/tornado events, two tropical storm/hurricane events, and the yearlong drought and associated wildfires. Additional information on such events since 1980 is available on NOAA’s Billion-Dollar Weather/Climate Disasters webpage.
Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for the United States National Climate Assessment, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Dec. 6, 2012). This technical report provides estimates of global sea level rise over this century, finding that there is a high probability of between eight inches and 6.6 feet of mean sea level rise by 2100, depending on factors including ice sheet loss and global warming. The report includes a synthesis of scientific literature on global sea level rise and presents four scenarios of future sea level rise for the purpose of assessing potential vulnerabilities and impacts.
Arctic Report Card: Update for 2012, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Dec. 5. 2012). NOAA’s annual update to its 2006 State of the Arctic Report finds that the region continues to break climate records in 2012, including the extent of sea ice, snow cover, and melting of the Greenland ice sheet. The Arctic Report Card report finds these changes are evidence of the growing momentum of environmental system change in the region. The report also concludes that these changes are likely to continue in the future due to a reduction in the overall surface reflectivity of the region and projections for continued global warming.
NOAA's Climate Extremes Index Highlights Most Extreme Year on Record, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (Oct. 9, 2012). The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced that, for the period of January to September 2012, record warm day and overnight temperatures and record dry conditions have created the highest value to date on the Climate Extremes Index. The index indicates that 45.2 percent of the lower 48 states experienced top 10 percent extreme weather conditions for the time period. The mean value over 102 years of climate data is 20 percent.
State of the Climate Report 2011, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (July 10, 2012). NOAA’s National Climate Data Center has released the latest annual report on global climate conditions. The report includes findings that in 2011 La Nina contributed to many extreme weather and climate events throughout the world, including historic drought in the southern United States, and that long-term trends in global climate indicators continue to show a warming climate.
Quarterly Climate Impacts and Outlook, Western Governors’ Association (June 28, 2012). The Western Governors’ Association, in conjunction with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, has issued a fact sheet intended to assist policymakers prepare for drought and other extreme weather events. The fact sheet provides an overview of climate in Western states; includes maps of the region showing snowpack, drought, and fire hazard areas; and shows trends in temperature and precipitation. The fact sheet is a result of a memorandum of understanding signed by WGA and NOAA in 2011.
U.S. and European Agencies Agree to Cooperate on Climate, Other Research, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (May 31, 2012). Representatives of NOAA and the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission have signed an agreement that seeks to strengthen cooperative science activities in the areas of climate, weather, oceans and coasts. The agreement calls the exchange of personnel, shared use of scientific infrastructure, support for joint research, access to laboratory facilities, scientific training, and timely exchange of information. The first four environmental monitoring projects under the agreement address climate data records, tsunami modeling, space weather, and fisheries research.
NOAA Announces Regional Climate Science Collaborations (Oct. 17, 2011). NOAA has awarded $11 million over five years to three projects as part of its Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) Program. The projects are intended to build capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate change by supporting collaborative efforts between NOAA scientists and regional, state, and local decisionmakers and stakeholders. The three new awards, which joint eight existing RISA projects, are the Alaska Center for Climate Assessments and Policy, the California-Nevada Applications Program, and the Carolinas Integrated Science and Assessments program.
Research Cites Potential Benefits of Reductions in Non-CO2 Greenhouse Gases (Aug. 3, 2011). A new study conducted by NOAA and published in the journal Nature finds that cuts in emissions of greenhouse gases other than carbon dioxide – such as methane, nitrous oxide, and ozone-depleting substances – could provide near-term climate benefits. According to the study, some of these chemicals have shorter lifetimes in the atmosphere than CO2, meaning that cuts in non-CO2 emissions could reduce their climate warming effect within decades rather than centuries, as with CO2. The study concludes that while reductions in non-CO2 greenhouse gases offers potential short-term benefits, sustainably reducing the warming influence of greenhouse gases will be possible only with steep cuts in CO2 emissions.
NOAA State of the Climate Report Says 2010 Among Warmest on Record (June 27, 2011). The latest in a series of annual climate reports by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration finds that 2010 was the warmest or second warmest year on record, depending on what analytical method is used. The year also was characterized by changes in sea surface temperatures from an El Nino pattern—warmer than usual sea surface temperatures in the equatorial Pacific Ocean—at the beginning of the year to a La Nina pattern—unusually cool sea surface temperatures—by the end of the year. According to the report, the transition contributed to extreme weather events around the world. The report also finds that 2010 saw the continuation of a long-term trend of increased greenhouse gas concentrations and surface temperatures.
National Climate Assessment Advisory Committee Meets to Plan Next Report, National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (April 4, 2011). The National Climate Assessment Development Advisory Committee met for the first time to discuss plans for the next National Climate Assessment report that will synthesize the latest scientific research on current and projected climate change impacts on the United States. The committee advises the U.S. Global Change Research Program on the development of the report, which is required at least every four years and was last completed in 2009. The assessment will focus on regional and national level impacts of climate change to various sectors, including transportation. For additional information, link to the National Climate Assessment website.
NOAA Climate Service. This website provides plans and background materials relating to the planned development of the NOAA Climate Service. It includes a range of resources, including NOAA State of the Climate in 2009 report.
U.S. Geological Survey Office of Global Change. This website provides information on climate change activities of the USGS and its contributions to the U.S. Global Change Research Program. The website includes resources on its research pursuits, such as briefings on climate topics, answers to frequently asked questions, and a library of publications.
Our Changing Planet: The U.S. Global Change Research Program for Fiscal Year 2013, U.S. Global Change Research Program (March 8, 2013). This annual report to Congress summarizes programmatic achievements, priorities, and budgetary information for the USGCRP. Recent achievements include the release in April 2012 of the program’s strategic plan for 2012-2021. The report outlines research priorities for FY 2013 in the areas of integrated observations, research, and modeling for earth and social systems; adaptation research; sustained assessments; establishment of an Interagency Global Change Information System; and communication, education, and engagement.
The National Global Change Research Plan: 2012-2021, United States Global Change Research Program (April 2012). The U.S. Global Change Research Program has issued a 10-year research plan for climate and global change research. The plan addresses four strategic goals: advance science, inform decisions, conduct sustained assessments, and communicate and educate. The plan will incorporate ongoing climate science with the dynamics of ecosystems and human social-economic activities with an aim to providing practical information for decision-makers.
Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States (2009 Report and Interactive Website) (March 1, 2012). UGCRP has developed an updated website for the 2009 National Climate Assessment report, which summarizes the science of climate change and the impacts of climate change on the United States. The report focuses on climate change impacts in different regions of the United States and on various aspects of society and the economy, including transportation, ecosystems, energy, water, and health. New features of the website include links to supporting datasets, an interactive map of regional climate impacts, and links to impacts by sector.
A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Strategic Plan, National Research Council (Jan. 6, 2012). This report provides a review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s draft 10-year strategic plan for 2012-2021, which was released on Sept. 30, 2011. The plan would focus efforts on climate adaptation and mitigation, improved modeling systems, better information sharing and analysis, and increasing public outreach on climate change issues. While the review applauds the federal government’s plan to broaden research into climate-related risks, the report finds that USGCRP lacks the full resources and expertise necessary to integrate new areas such as climate adaptation or social and ecological sciences into its 10-year research plan. (The final strategic plan was released in April 2012 – see above).
A U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Plan (August 2011). This publication of the U.S. Carbon Cycle Science Program is intended to guide research over the next decade on the carbon cycle, or the flow of carbon between reservoirs across the planet, including oceans, the atmosphere, and fossil fuels. The document, which replaces the first Carbon Cycle Science Plan published in 1999, outlines new research priorities including study of the impacts that future climate changes and human activities have on carbon stocks and flows; ecosystems, biodiversity, and natural resources changes under different carbon dioxide and climate change scenarios; and the likelihood of success and potential side effects of carbon management pathways.
Climate Science News. This USGCRP webpage provides an aggregation of climate science article and news from around the Internet.
U.S. Energy-Related Carbon Dioxide Emissions, 2010, U.S. Energy Information Administration (Aug. 18, 2011). This document provides an analysis of the level and drivers of energy-related carbon dioxide emissions in 2010. The analysis indicates a rebound in energy-related CO2 emissions in 2010 following a historic decline in 2009, although CO2 emissions remain 6 percent below 2005 levels.
Emissions of Greenhouse Gases in the United States 2009 (March 31, 2011). This is the eighteenth annual report presenting the latest estimates of emissions for carbon dioxide, methane, nitrous oxide, and other greenhouse gases in the United States. The report cites a decline in U.S. CO2 emissions in 2009 resulting from an economic recession, its impact on the energy-intensive industries sector, and a drop in the price of natural gas leading to a switch away from coal to natural gas in the electric power sector.
GAO Report Says NOAA Can Improve Management of Climate Monitoring Stations, U.S. Government Accountability Office (Aug. 31, 2011) This report finds that the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration can improve the siting and management of its network of climate monitoring stations, known as the U.S. Historical Climatology Network. GAO recommends that NOAA improve its information systems to improve management of the network and to develop policy on how to address stations that do not meet the agency’s siting standards.
GAO Issues Assessment of Potential Climate Engineering Technologies, U.S. Government Accountability Office (Aug. 25, 2011). This report provides an assessment of two proposed technologies to engineer the climate to manage potential catastrophic risks from climate change: carbon dioxide removal (CDR) and solar radiation management (SRM). CDR would involve reducing the atmospheric concentration of CO2 by capturing and storing it underground, while SRM would employ reflective materials to scatter or reflect sunlight back into space. The report finds that climate engineering technologies are immature but that experts and the public support research on their development.