U.S. National climate assessment gaps and research needs: overview, the economy and the international context

Abstract

A number of knowledge gaps and research priorities emerged during the third US National Climate Assessment (NCA3). Several are also gaps in the latest IPCC WG2 report. These omissions reflect major gaps in the underlying research base from which these assessments draw. These include the challenge of estimating the costs and benefits of climate change impacts and responses to climate change and the need for research on climate impacts on important sectors such as manufacturing and services. Climate impacts also need to be assessed within an international context in an increasingly connected and globalized world. Climate change is being experienced not only through changes within a locality but also through the impacts of climate change in other regions connected through trade, prices, and commodity chains, migratory species, human mobility and networked communications. Also under-researched are the connections and tradeoffs between responses to climate change at or across different scales, especially between adaptation and mitigation or between climate responses and other environmental and social policies. This paper discusses some of these research priorities, illustrating their significance through analysis of economic and international connections and case studies of responses to climate change. It also critically reflects on the process of developing research needs as part of the assessment process.

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Acknowledgments

The author would like to thank her co-authors on Chapter 29 on Research Needs for Climate and Global Change of the National Climate Assessment including Robert Corell, Kirstin Dow, Kristie Ebi, Ken Kunkel, Linda Mearns and Jerry Melillo; Amy Glasmeier for conversations about the structure of the US Economy; and sponsors of research on drought and climate impacts including NSF EASM award 1243125, the NOAA IRAP grant to the University of Arizona and the Guggenheim Foundation.

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Correspondence to Diana Liverman.

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This article is part of a special issue on “The National Climate Assessment: Innovations in Science and Engagement” edited by Katharine Jacobs, Susanne Moser, and James Buizer.

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Liverman, D. U.S. National climate assessment gaps and research needs: overview, the economy and the international context. Climatic Change 135, 173–186 (2016). https://doi.org/10.1007/s10584-015-1464-5

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Keywords

  • Supply Chain
  • Gross Domestic Product
  • Climate Impact
  • Sustained Assessment
  • Commodity Chain