Volume 2 of the 4th National Climate Assessment Now Available

On November 23rd, the U.S. Global Change Research Program released Volume 2 of the 4th National Climate Assessment – a congressionally-mandated synthesis of climate science and the observed and projected impacts of climate change across the United States. This report is the result of a three-year effort by hundreds of experts around the country. The Climate Impacts Group served as a co-author on the Northwest chapter.

For the Northwest region, the key messages from the report include:

Key Message #1: Natural Resource Economy

“Climate change is already affecting the Northwest’s diverse natural resources, which support sustainable livelihoods; provide a robust foundation for rural, tribal, and Indigenous communities; and strengthen local economies. Climate change is expected to continue affecting the natural resource sector, but the economic consequences will depend on future market dynamics, management actions, and adaptation efforts. Proactive management can increase the resilience of many natural resources and their associated economies.”

Key Message #2: Natural World & Cultural Heritage

“Climate change and extreme events are already endangering the well-being of a wide range of wildlife, fish, and plants, which are intimately tied to tribal subsistence culture and popular outdoor recreation activities. Climate change is projected to continue to have adverse impacts on the regional environment, with implications for the values, identity, heritage, cultures, and quality of life of the region’s diverse population. Adaptation and informed management, especially culturally appropriate strategies, will likely increase the resilience of the region’s natural capital.”

Key Message #3: Infrastructure

“Existing water, transportation, and energy infrastructure already face challenges from flooding, landslides, drought, wildfire, and heat waves. Climate change is projected to increase the risks from many of these extreme events, potentially compromising the reliability of water supplies, hydropower, and transportation across the region. Isolated communities and those with systems that lack redundancy are the most vulnerable. Adaptation strategies that address more than one sector, or are coupled with social and environmental co-benefits, can increase resilience.”

Key Message #4: Infrastructure

“Organizations and volunteers that make up the Northwest’s social safety net are already stretched thin with current demands. Healthcare and social systems will likely be further challenged with the increasing frequency of acute events, or when cascading events occur. In addition to an increased likelihood of hazards and epidemics, disruptions in local economies and food systems are projected to result in more chronic health risks. The potential health co-benefits of future climate mitigation investments could help to counterbalance these risks.”

Key Message #5: Frontline Communities

“Communities on the front lines of climate change experience the first, and often the worst, effects. Frontline communities in the Northwest include tribes and Indigenous peoples, those most dependent on natural resources for their livelihoods, and the economically disadvantaged. These communities generally prioritize basic needs, such as shelter, food, and transportation; frequently lack economic and political capital; and have fewer resources to prepare for and cope with climate disruptions. The social and cultural cohesion inherent in many of these communities provides a foundation for building community capacity and increasing resilience.”


Graphic from the 4th National Climate Assessment Northwest chapter summarizing impacts for the Northwest region of the U.S..

Image courtesy of NCA, 2018

The full report and all of the regional chapters and executive summaries are available at: https://nca2018.globalchange.gov/

Please direct questions about this report and the regional implications to Dr. Heidi Roop & Dr. Amy Snover