finding 18.5 : key-message-18-5

Communities in the Northeast are proactively planning (high confidence) and implementing (medium confidence) actions to reduce risks posed by climate change. Using decision support tools to develop and apply adaptation strategies informs both the value of adopting solutions and the remaining challenges (high confidence). Experience since the last assessment provides a foundation to advance future adaptation efforts (high confidence).

This finding is from chapter 18 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

It is understood that authors for a regional assessment must have scientific and regional credibility in the topical areas. Each author must also be willing and interested in serving in this capacity. Author selection for the Northeast chapter proceeded as follows:

First, the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) released a Call for Public Nominations. Interested scientists were either nominated or self-nominated and their names placed into a database. The concurrent USGCRP Call for Public Nominations also solicited scientists to serve as chapter leads. Both lists were reviewed by the USGCRP with input from the coordinating lead author (CLA) and from the National Climate Assessment (NCA) Steering Committee. All regional chapter lead (CL) authors were selected by the USGCRP at the same time. The CLA and CL then convened to review the author nominations list as a “first cut” in identifying potential chapter authors for this chapter. Using their knowledge of the Northeast’s landscape and challenges, the CLA and CL used the list of national chapter topics that would be most relevant for the region. That topical list was associated with scientific expertise and a subset of the author list.

In the second phase, the CLA and CL used both the list of nominees as well as other scientists from around the region to build an author team that was representative of the Northeast’s geography, institutional affiliation (federal agencies and academic and research institutions), depth of subject matter expertise, and knowledge of selected regional topics. Eleven authors were thus identified by December 2016, and the twelfth author was invited in April 2017 to better represent tribal knowledge in the chapter.

Lastly, the authors were contacted by the CL to determine their level of interest and willingness to serve as experts on the region's topics of water resources, agriculture and natural resources, oceans and marine ecosystems, coastal issues, health, and the built environment and urban issues.

On the due diligence of determining the region’s topical areas of focus

The first two drafts of the Northeast chapter were structured around the themes of water resources, agriculture and natural resources, oceans and marine ecosystems, coastal issues, health, and the built environment and urban issues. During the USGCRP-sponsored Regional Engagement Workshop held in Boston on February 10, 2017, feedback was solicited from approximately 150 online participants (comprising transportation officials, coastal managers, urban planners, city managers, fisheries managers, forest managers, state officials, and others) around the Northeast and other parts of the United States, on both the content of these topical areas and important focal areas for the region. Additional inputs were solicited from other in-person meetings such as the ICNet workshop and American Association of Geographers meetings, both held in April 2017. All feedback was then compiled with the lessons learned from the USGCRP CLA-CL meeting in Washington, DC, also held in April 2017. On April 28, 2017, the author team met in Burlington, Vermont, and reworked the chapter’s structure around the risk-based framing of interest to 1) changing seasonality, 2) coastal/ocean resources, 3) rural communities and livelihoods, 4) urban interconnectedness, and 5) adaptation.

Description of evidence base:

Reports on climate adaptation and resilience planning have been published by city, state, and tribal governments and by regional and federal agencies in the Northeast. Examples include the Interstate Commission on the Potomac River Basin (for the Washington, DC, metropolitan area),3258fcdc-5c7f-46a1-be18-29e440a0489a Boston,4d61fbc8-2282-49e8-bb8c-e7d87075f424 the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey,62f465d8-b42c-42f7-81ec-0f5378ba9f19 the St. Regis Mohawk Tribe,479edcdc-3e35-4859-86aa-5733316e0aa1 the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers,641ac0a3-aad2-4422-a632-f07117fe694a the State of Maine,a3a5fe5c-f49b-4c6b-a008-5647194a88a7 and southeastern Connecticut.4afcd82e-a3d5-4d98-80e9-33ce546fabd9 Structured decision-making is being applied to design management plans, determine research needs, and allocate resourceseddcff40-a0a0-426d-880b-a73730e9497f to preserve habitat and resources throughout the region.68fcc8c6-b20a-4739-aae6-e98b893d5163,eac23798-e67b-430a-89da-1ea63df31c87,6c67b572-c604-4f0c-ab46-4e67f2267bcc

New information and remaining uncertainties:

The percentage of communities in the Northeast that are planning for climate adaptation and resilience and the percentage of those using decision support tools are not known. More case studies would be needed to evaluate the effectiveness of adaptation actions.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

There is high confidence that there are communities in the Northeast undertaking planning efforts to reduce risks posed from climate change and medium confidence that they are implementing climate adaptation. There is high confidence that decision support tools are informative and medium confidence that these communities are using decision support tools to find solutions for adaptation that are workable. There is high confidence that early adoption is occurring in some communities and that this provides a foundation for future efforts. This Key Message does not address trends into the future, and therefore likelihood is not applicable.

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