US National Climate Assessment (NCA) Scenarios for Assessing Our Climate Future: Issues and Methodological Perspectives Background Whitepaper for Participants

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This whitepaper is intended to provide a starting point for discussion at a workshop for the National Climate Assessment (NCA) that focuses on the use and development of scenarios. The paper will provide background needed by participants in the workshop in order to review options for developing and using scenarios in NCA. The paper briefly defines key terms and establishes a conceptual framework for developing consistent scenarios across different end uses and spatial scales. It reviews uses of scenarios in past U.S. national assessments and identifies potential users of and needs for scenarios for both the report scheduled for release ... continued below

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Moss, Richard H.; Engle, Nathan L.; Hall, John; Jacobs, Kathy; Lempert, Rob; Mearns, L. O. et al. October 1, 2011.

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Description

This whitepaper is intended to provide a starting point for discussion at a workshop for the National Climate Assessment (NCA) that focuses on the use and development of scenarios. The paper will provide background needed by participants in the workshop in order to review options for developing and using scenarios in NCA. The paper briefly defines key terms and establishes a conceptual framework for developing consistent scenarios across different end uses and spatial scales. It reviews uses of scenarios in past U.S. national assessments and identifies potential users of and needs for scenarios for both the report scheduled for release in June 2013 and to support an ongoing distributed assessment process in sectors and regions around the country. Because scenarios prepared for the NCA will need to leverage existing research, the paper takes account of recent scientific advances and activities that could provide needed inputs. Finally, it considers potential approaches for providing methods, data, and other tools for assessment participants. We note that the term 'scenarios' has many meanings. An important goal of the whitepaper (and portions of the workshop agenda) is pedagogical (i.e., to compare different meanings and uses of the term and make assessment participants aware of the need to be explicit about types and uses of scenarios). In climate change research, scenarios have been used to establish bounds for future climate conditions and resulting effects on human and natural systems, given a defined level of greenhouse gas emissions. This quasi-predictive use contrasts with the way decision analysts typically use scenarios (i.e., to consider how robust alternative decisions or strategies may be to variation in key aspects of the future that are uncertain). As will be discussed, in climate change research and assessment, scenarios describe a range of aspects of the future, including major driving forces (both human activities and natural processes), changes in climate and related environmental conditions (e.g., sea level), and evolution of societal capability to respond to climate change. This wide range of scenarios is needed because the implications of climate change for the environment and society depend not only on changes in climate themselves, but also on human responses. This degree of breadth introduces and number of challenges for communication and research.

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  • Report No.: PNNL-20040
  • Grant Number: AC05-76RL01830
  • DOI: 10.2172/1034995 | External Link
  • Office of Scientific & Technical Information Report Number: 1034995
  • Archival Resource Key: ark:/67531/metadc837242

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  • October 1, 2011

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  • May 19, 2016, 3:16 p.m.

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  • Dec. 2, 2016, 5:05 p.m.

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Moss, Richard H.; Engle, Nathan L.; Hall, John; Jacobs, Kathy; Lempert, Rob; Mearns, L. O. et al. US National Climate Assessment (NCA) Scenarios for Assessing Our Climate Future: Issues and Methodological Perspectives Background Whitepaper for Participants, report, October 1, 2011; Richland, Washington. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc837242/: accessed September 21, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; crediting UNT Libraries Government Documents Department.