02/22/2013 12:49


            Daily many of us prepare to adapt to the weather by looking at the sky, checking the temperature, or listening to an official report. Using technology, we heat and cool our bodies and our buildings to keep us comfortable. Our own memory of weather over the years during various seasons of the year alerts us to patterns that now seem different, but we adjust.

            Science allows seeing a few days into our weather future with more and more accuracy. Seeing the bigger picture -- bringing all the variables together into a long range predication -- is a greater challenge. However, scientists studying data from ages past and specific data being collected daily from many points around our country and the world can give us a look into future weather patterns that indicate climate change. In bits and pieces, the media reports some of these findings periodically.

            Preparing our nation for change is not a hastily conceived plan. Congress adopted The Global Climate Change Research Act of 1990 that mandated a national climate assessment be conducted every four years, resulting in a report to the President and Congress. The last National Climate Assessment (NCA) was published in 2009. “A draft report will be completed by the NCA Development and Advisory Committee in 2012 so that it may be thoroughly reviewed by scientists and experts from the National Academy of Sciences and the public. “ www.globalchange.gov.

            The NCA informs the nation about already observed changes, the current status of the climate, and anticipated trends for the future. It integrates scientific information from multiple sources and sectors to highlight key findings and significant gaps in our knowledge. The intent is that it will be used by communities and businesses to create more sustainable and environmentally sound plans for the nation’s future.

            An important feature of the NCA is that it studies how climate change impacts different regions and sectors across the United States. Some of the wide-ranging impacts being studied include: Human Health – Land Use and Land Cover Change – Agriculture – Forest – Ecosystems and Biodiversity – Water Resources – Energy Supply and Use – Transportation – Urban Infrastructure and Vulnerability  – Rural Communities – Biogeochemical Cycles – Oceans and Marine Resources – Tribal, Indigenous, and Native Lands and Resources – Coastal Zone, Adaptation and Mitigation – and Intersections among all these topics.

            In the big picture, the impact of climate change is far-reaching. To prepare for changing climate NCA reminds us to “support climate-literacy and skilled use of NCA findings.”


Della Moen, Earth Team Volunteer, NRCS/Stephenson Soil and Water Conservation District, an equal opportunity provider and employer, 01/09/13 (for publication on 01/12/13 in the Journal Standard, Freeport, Illinois) Della can be reached at info@stephensonswcd.org