finding 17.4 : key-message-17-4

Predicting the responses of complex, interdependent systems will depend on developing meaningful models of multiple, diverse systems, including human systems, and methods for characterizing uncertainty. (High Confidence)



This finding is from chapter 17 of Impacts, Risks, and Adaptation in the United States: The Fourth National Climate Assessment, Volume II.

Process for developing key messages:

The scope of this chapter was developed to fill a gap in previous National Climate Assessments (NCAs), notably the risks that emerge from interactions among sectors. Previous NCAs have touched on this subject, for example the energy, water, and land use chapter in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA3). However, these assessments never included a chapter specifically focused on a general treatment of this topic. Emerging scientific research is highlighting the links between sectors and the potential complexity and implications of these interactions, from complex system dynamics such as cascading failures to management approaches and approaches to risk. These concepts were then incorporated into a detailed terms of reference for the chapter, outlining the scope and the general content to be included in the document.

The author team for this chapter was constructed to bring together the necessary diverse experience, expertise, and perspectives. Our authors brought expertise and experience in multiscale, multisector research and modeling, with a focus in specific sectors or sectoral combinations including critical infrastructure, energy–water–land interactions, and ecosystems. The authors also had expertise in complex systems science and previous experience in assessment processes.

The chapter was developed through technical discussions, a literature review, and expert deliberation by chapter authors through email and phone discussions. The team evaluated the state of the science on the analysis of sectoral interdependencies, compounding stressors, and complex system science. Case studies were drawn from a range of sources intended to represent the key themes in the chapter.

Description of evidence base:

This Key Message is based on an understanding of a range of analyses and modeling tools described throughout the chapter.

New information and remaining uncertainties:

Because the Key Message is the authors’ assessment of the overall state of development of research tools and models, and the subsequent importance of developing research tools, the concept of major uncertainties is not entirely appropriate. This is a matter of the authors’ judgment, not calculation or assessment of underlying probabilities.

Assessment of confidence based on evidence:

See above. No likelihood statement is appropriate, and the high confidence is based on the authors’ assessment of the underlying literature and development of methods and modeling tools.

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