finding 28.1 : key-message-28-1

Adaptation planning and implementation activities are occurring across the United States in the public, private, and nonprofit sectors. Since the Third National Climate Assessment, implementation has increased but is not yet commonplace. (High Confidence)

This finding is from chapter 28 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The scope for this chapter was determined by the Fourth National Climate Assessment (NCA4) Federal Steering Committee, which is made up of representatives from the U.S. Global Change Research Program member agencies. The scope was also informed by research needs identified in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3). Authors for this NCA4 chapter were selected to represent a range of public- and private-sector perspectives and experiences relevant to adaptation planning and implementation.

This chapter was developed through technical discussions of relevant evidence and expert deliberation by chapter authors during teleconferences, e-mail exchanges, and a day-long in-person meeting. These discussions were informed by a comprehensive literature review of the evidence base for the current state of adaptation in the United States. The author team obtained input from outside experts in several important areas to supplement its expertise.

Description of evidence base:

There exists extensive documentation in the gray literature of specific adaptation planning and implementation activities underway by local, state, regional, and federal agencies and jurisdictions. The literature also contains reports that attempt to provide an overview of these activities, such as the recent set of case studies in Vogel et. al. (2017).3c3cc09b-c2d7-4c52-bf8f-c064efa78e93 Websites, such as those of the Georgetown Climate Center (, provide summaries and examples of adaptation activities in the United States. The sectoral and regional chapters in this National Climate Assessment also provide numerous examples of adaptation planning and implementation activities. The literature also offers work that aims to provide surveys of large numbers of adaptation activity, such as Moser et. al. (2018)b47b4130-ce3f-4e3e-914d-443a5652abbb and Stults and Woodruff (2016).44dd3160-74d0-4173-8ca4-b503fcd93615

New information and remaining uncertainties:

While the amount of adaptation-related activity is clearly increasing, the lack of clear standards and the diverse lexicon used in different sectors make it difficult to systematically compare different adaptation activities at the level of outcomes across sectors and regions of the country. In addition, publicly available adaptation plans may never actually result in implementation. It is thus difficult to provide a quantitative assessment of the increase in adaptation activity other than just counting plans and initiatives. Given the reliance on small-sample surveys, judgments about the distribution of adaptation actions across categories have potentially large errors that are difficult to estimate. In addition, it is difficult to assess the contribution of these activities to concrete outcomes such as risk reduction or current and future improvements to well-being, security, and environmental protection.dbb9cf98-a2e1-4392-b1f9-38d00259ecdf There also exists little gap analysis that compares any given set of adaptation activities with what might be appropriate according to some normative standard or what might be reasonably achieved. Thus, while adaptation activities are clearly increasing in the United States, scant evidence exists for judging their consequences.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is high confidence that the amount of adaptation activity, in particular implementation activity, is increasing. There is less agreement and evidence regarding the consequences of this activity.

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