4th U.S. National Climate Assessment: Reinforcing the Scientific Consensus


Volume 1 of the Congressionally mandated 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment (NCA) was released earlier this month. Led by scientists working at NOAA, the Climate Science Special Report (CSSR) is the work of many of the nation’s most accomplished climate scientists. Used as a core blueprint used to inform the public and craft public policy decisions to address climate change, the report is a rigorously evaluated document that has gone through several rounds of peer review by NOAA and NASA, as well as review by the National Academy of Sciences.

The report’s conclusions are unassailable:

  • Carbon pollution is warming the planet at an unprecedented rate producing global changes to the Earth’s climate and systems
  • These climate shifts are now being seen across every corner of the globe and in every ecosystem
  • Extreme weather events are being intensified by climate change and the damages will grow ever more devastating if swift decisive action to address the contributors to that change are not taken
  • To meet the goals of the global Paris Agreement on climate change, humanity must rapidly take action to address other factors contributing to the changes in the Earth’s climate

We are grateful to all the authors of this report for their leadership and steadfast commitment to this complex and essential scientific undertaking. We are particularly proud of the many of the coordinating lead authors of this report who are AGU members. AGU is dedicated to ensuring that the voice of science is heard, and it is a testament to the global leadership of our members that 234 citations from AGU journals were used in the report.

Furthermore, our own position on climate change, first adopted in 2003 and last revised in 2013, squares up with the findings of the NCA report. Our position states “Humanity is the major influence on the global climate change observed over the past 50 years. Actions that could diminish the threats posed by climate change to society and ecosystems include substantial emissions cuts to reduce the magnitude of climate change, as well as preparing for changes that are now unavoidable. The community of scientists has responsibilities to improve overall understanding of climate change and its impacts.”

The information provided by National Climate Assessment is critical to our understanding of climate change and our ability to address this growing problem. That’s why AGU featured an article on the report by three of the lead authors on our news site, To further promote the findings of the NCA, we are also, is sponsoring a Reddit Ask Me Anything (AMA) from noon – 2:00 p.m. EST  on Friday, 1 December with Dr. Katharine Hayhoe and Dr. Robert Kopp, two authors of the special report. Questions can be submitted to them beginning at 9:00 a.m. EST. AGU will also hold a session about the report and its key findings at the upcoming AGU Fall Meeting in New Orleans. Finally, AGU encourages its members and the to provide public comment on the Draft of Volume II of the 4th U.S. National Climate Assessment through January 31, 2018. Vol. II is a technical, scientific assessment of climate change impacts, risks, and adaptation across the United States.

Through our journals, work with key decision makers, and educational outreach, AGU is committed to taking a leadership role in the global response to climate change.

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