Diana Kenney: 508-289-7139;
Gina Hebert: 508-289-7725;

A federal advisory committee chaired by MBL Distinguished Scientist Jerry M. Melillo has released a draft of the  Third National Climate Assessment Report  for public comment. The report presents the latest science about the current and projected effects of climate change across the United States. It is a scientific document—not a policy document—and does not make recommendations regarding responses to climate change. It does, however, describe some of the actions that society is already taking, and can take, to adapt to and mitigate climate change.

“Climate change is already affecting the American people,” the report begins. “Certain types of weather events have become more frequent and/or intense, including heat waves, heavy downpours, and, in some regions, floods and droughts. Sea level is rising, oceans are becoming more acidic, and glaciers and sea ice are melting. These changes are part of the pattern of global climate change, which is primarily driven by human activity.”

The draft then details climate change impacts on specific U.S. regions and sectors, including agriculture and human health, based on input from more than 240 scientist-authors.

The draft report is available for download at Public comments will be accepted until April 12, 2013 and must submitted online. In addition to the public review, the report will also undergo a review by the National Academies of Sciences. The authors will use the public comments to revise the report before submitting it to the federal government for consideration in the Third National Climate Assessment (NCA) Report (to be published in early 2014).

Dr. Melillo’s research focuses on the impacts of human activities on terrestrial ecosystems. He has studied carbon and nitrogen cycling in ecosystems across the globe and has played a prominent role in international climate change policy throughout his career. In 2009, Dr. Melillo co-authored the landmark report to Congress, “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States,” issued by the U.S. Global Change Research Program. He was also a lead author on both the 1990 and 1995 Assessment Reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), and he served in President Clinton’s Office of Science and Technology Policy from 1996 to 1997.

The Global Change Research Act of 1990 requires a National Climate Assessment at least every four years.

Snow falls on an experimental plot at Harvard Forest in Petersham, Mass., where Jerry Melillo and colleagues have studied how warming temperatures affect carbon and nitrogen cycling in soil and vegetation. Photo courtesy of Jerry Melillo. Click here for full-size image