- Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II
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finding 28.2 : key-message-28-2
Successful adaptation has been hindered by the assumption that climate conditions are and will be similar to those in the past. Incorporating information on current and future climate conditions into design guidelines, standards, policies, and practices would reduce risk and adverse impacts. (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:
The assumption that the historical record of events and variability will be the same in the future is called the stationarity assumptionc52f2539-9c5e-4ead-b8b7-f1884c5d662e and has guided planning for climate and weather events in most places for most of recorded history. The evidence is strong that the stationarity assumption is no longer valid for all impacts and variability in all locations, because climate change is altering both the events and their variability.666daffe-2c3b-4e2d-9157-16b989860618,9c909a77-a1d9-477d-82fc-468a6b1af771,0725eae6-7458-4ec2-8f66-880d88118148,2c2dfd3f-ff08-437a-b075-7f8259dafadb Regional chapters in this assessment establish the climate variables for which, and the extent to which, non-stationarity has been confirmed around the United States. These chapters also provide extensive documentation of cases in which failure to adapt to current and future climate conditions can cause significant adverse impacts.
New information and remaining uncertainties:
While significant uncertainties can exist in estimating the extent to which current variability differs from historic observations in any particular location, there is robust evidence that such differences do occur in many locations (see Ch. 18: Northeast; Ch. 19: Southeast; Ch. 20: U.S. Caribbean; Ch. 21: Midwest; Ch. 22: N. Great Plains; Ch. 23: S. Great Plains; Ch. 24: Northwest; Ch. 25: Southwest; Ch. 26: Alaska; and Ch. 27: Hawaiʻi & Pacific Islands).29960c69-6168-4fb0-9af0-d50bdd91acd3,e8089a19-413e-4bc5-8c4a-7610399e268c,0725eae6-7458-4ec2-8f66-880d88118148,0615b4ff-d185-4e14-9d4d-5bea1ce6ca51 However, the development and use of analytic tools, decision-making processes, and application mechanisms built on the assumption of non-stationarity lag significantly behind the growing realization that stationarity is no longer a sound basis for long-range planning.19a4d709-1ec6-4e02-ba94-0d4abb4b3820 Nonetheless, new techniques are being applied.14abc4e6-e419-4686-880f-cd2f3e28e11c,bc596c87-23de-4edf-9351-ff2fe74ba4c7,e7bfb64e-fd2c-462b-9fdd-9dcc978daaba For example, scenario planning can provide alternative actions that can be carried out if different impacts occur.dcd195b2-6aab-4ff5-8554-db5607fd11c5,622154ca-3347-4abe-9090-2f48025f383f
Assessment of confidence based on evidence:
There is high confidence that most organizations’ planning is currently based on extensions from the record of local climate conditions.60233f20-d45f-4086-ada7-00dbd47712c3
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