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The University of Massachusetts Amherst

Climate Assessments for Local Action

Authors:

Christine Kirchhoff

Joseph Barsugli

Gillian Galford

Ambarish Karmalkar

Kelly Lombardo

Scott Stephenson

Mathew Barlow

Anji Seth

Guiling Wang

Austin Frank

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Year of Publication:
2019
Publisher:
American Meteorological Society
Secondary Title:
Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society
ISSN:
0003-0007, 1520-0477
DOI:
10.1175/bams-d-18-0138.1
Issue:
11
Pages:
2147-2152
Volume:
100
Year:
2019

Abstract

AbstractGlobal and national climate assessments are comprehensive, authoritative sources of information about observed and projected climate changes and their impacts on society. These assessments follow well-known, accepted procedures to create credible, legitimate, salient sources of information for policy- and decision-making, build capacity for action, and educate the public. While there is a great deal of research on assessments at global and national scales, there is little research or guidance for assessment at the U.S. state scale. To address the need for guidance for state climate assessments (SCAs), the authors combined insights from the literature, firsthand experience with four SCAs, and interviews with individuals involved in 10 other SCAs to identify challenges, draw lessons, and point out future research needs to guide SCAs. SCAs are challenged by sparseness of literature and data, insufficient support for ongoing assessment, short time lines, limited funding, and surprisingly, little deliberate effort to address legitimacy as a concern. Lessons learned suggest SCAs should consider credibility, legitimacy, and salience as core criteria; happen at regular intervals; identify assessment scope, resource allocation, and trade-offs between generation of new knowledge, engagement, and communication up front; and leverage boundary organizations. Future research should build on ongoing efforts to advance assessments, examine the effectiveness of different SCA approaches, and seek to inform both broad and specific guidance for SCAs.