Regional Climate Change Workshops Overview

Sponsored by the Office of Science and Technology Policy and
the United States Global Change Research Program agencies

Introduction: To improve understanding of the consequences of global change for the nation, the Office of Science and Technology Policy and the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) are sponsoring a series of regional workshops throughout the country. The purpose of these workshops is to start the process of examining the vulnerabilities of regions of the United States to climate variability and climate change and to begin to aggregate information across regions to support national-scale assessment (called for in the Global Change Research Act).

Participants: Workshop participants include the broad research and stakeholder community, drawn from federal, state, and local governments; universities and laboratories; industry, agricultural and natural resource managers; non-governmental organizations; and others.

Outputs: The workshops, while reflecting special regional needs, are being conducted to generate some common outputs:

  • Description of the region’s current environmental, demographic and economic conditions.

  • Identification of vulnerabilities to climate variability and climate change.

  • Definition of research needs for improving estimates of regional vulnerabilities, understanding the consequences of climate variability and change, and analyzing viable response options.

  • Identification of adaptation and resource management options.

Locations: Eight workshops were held in 1997 and ten additional workshops are planned for 1998 (see table and maps).

The workshops are part of a larger process:

  • An Aspen Global Change Institute meeting of workshop coordinators and key stakeholders, July 29-August, began to synthesize regional workshop results and plan for a national assessment.

  • A National Forum (U.S. Climate Forum on the Consequences of Global Change for the Nation) in Washington D.C., November 12-13, 1997 was held to engage the broad range of stakeholder perspectives and advance discussions of critical questions and issues to be addressed in the assessment.

  • The first reports from the national assessment process will be completed and submitted to Congress during 1999 and will become a contribution from the United States to the Third Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

USGCRP Background: The USGCRP was established by the President in 1989, and codified by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990. The program’s fundamental purpose is to increase understanding of the Earth system and thus provide a sound scientific basis for national and international decision making on global change issues. The USGCRP is currently focused on four key areas of Earth system science: Seasonal to Interannual Climate Variability; Climate Change over Decades to Centuries; Changes in Ozone, UV Radiation, and Atmospheric Chemistry; and Changes in Land Cover and Terrestrial and Aquatic Ecosystems. Over the next two years, the USGCRP will increasingly focus on the assessment of regional vulnerabilities to climate variability, climate change, and other aspects of global environmental change.

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