U.S. Regional Climate Trends and Scenarios

In early January, NOAA’s National Environmental Satellite, Data, and Information Service, NCDC’s parent organization, released a Technical Report covering an analysis of historical climate trends and climate scenarios of the future for eight U.S. regions as well as one for the contiguous United States.  Technical Report 142 is comprised of nine parts—142-1 through 142-9—each of which represents a more complete and targeted synthesis of historical and emission-dependent future climate conditions around the specific regions of the National Climate Assessment (NCA). There are two components of these descriptions. One component is a description of the historical climate conditions in the region. The other component is a description of the climate conditions associated with two future pathways of greenhouse gas emissions based on IPCC emission scenarios. As part of a sustained assessment approach, it is intended that these documents will be updated as new and well-vetted model results are available and as new climate emission scenarios become available.

One of the Technical Report’s authors is Dr. Kenneth E. Kunkel of NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites-Asheville, North Carolina, who said: “The completion of these descriptions of regional climate trends and scenarios represents an outstanding collaborative effort of many contributors throughout the United States. With their expertise, we have assembled the best scientific evidence available to accurately portray our current understanding of historical trends and important climate features in each region. Our aim is to provide an internally consistent description of plausible future climate conditions under prescribed emissions scenarios.” 

The eight regions are the Northeast, Southeast, Midwest, Great Plains, Northwest, Southwest, Alaska, and Hawai‘i/Pacific Islands. Available at http://www.nesdis.noaa.gov/technical_reports/142_Climate_Scenarios.html, the report is intended to be used as input into the next NCA report, which is currently under development and being administered through the U.S. Global Change Research Program.  A Federal Advisory Committee (the National Climate Assessment and Development Advisory Committee) has been appointed to develop and release a draft climate report early this year that will be thoroughly reviewed by scientists and experts from inside and outside the federal government, the National Academy of Sciences, and the public. After revision and further review this report will be submitted to the Government for consideration as the Third National Climate Assessment. Availability of the draft report for commenting will be announced in the Federal Register.  

As part of a number of resources in broader contextual support of the NCA, the individual scenarios and graphics will be accessible at scenarios.globalchange.gov, from which links to other documents and information about the NCA are available.