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Climate panel axed by Trump releases plan to help United States deal with warming

Reconstituted group proposes effort to translate climate science into practical advice for businesses and communities.

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A wildfire burns at the Salvation Army Camp on November 10, 2018 in Malibu, California.

Wildfires devastated California in 2018, and climate models project that such blazes will grow stronger and more common as the planet warms.Credit: Sandy Huffaker/Getty

A group of climate scientists disbanded by US President Donald Trump two years ago has released a report calling for better resources to help the United States cope with climate change.

The US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration created the panel in 2015 to help US businesses and communities to adapt to climate warming. After the Trump administration dissolved the group in 2017, its members restarted their work with funding from the state of New York, Columbia University, the American Meteorological Society and others.

The latest report by the panel — now called the Independent Advisory Committee for Applied Climate Assessment — outlines a plan to translate cutting-edge climate science into practical information to help communities and businesses plan for rising seas, more frequent wildfires and other impacts of climate change.

Richard Moss, the advisory committee’s leader and a visiting climate scientist at Columbia University in New York City, says the goal is to create a consortium where climatologists can work with governments and professional societies to improve policies such as flood maps and building codes. “It’s really about making science accessible in a mainstream way,” Moss says.

The idea has huge potential, says Tonya Graham, executive director of the Geos Institute in Ashland, Oregon, which works with communities to prepare for climate change. “In the past there was a sense that we were waiting for the federal government to build something like this, and it’s clear now that that’s not going to happen,” she says. “We’re no longer looking to them to lead it.”

Several of the advisory committee’s members are working to organize the new climate-planning consortium and secure initial funding. They hope that, eventually, the consortium would support itself by doing contract work for state and local governments and professional societies.

Committee member Andy Jones, a climate modeller at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory in California, is already working with several water agencies across the country to use data from global climate models to plan for changing patterns of precipitation, runoff and flooding.

“People are just hungry for this information,” he says. “But without some sort of coordination with [decisionmakers], the scientists aren’t going to know what to provide.”

doi: 10.1038/d41586-019-01090-0

References

  1. 1.

    Moss, R. H. et al. Weather Clim. Soc. https://doi.org/10.1175/WCAS-D-18-0134.1 (2019).

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