Polsky appointed to co-author chapter of U.S. Climate Assessment

Clark University Graduate School of Geography Associate Professor Colin Polsky has been appointed co-Convening Lead Author for the Land-Use and Land-Cover Change chapter of the National Climate Assessment (NCA). The NCA, commissioned by the Office of Science & Technology Policy in the White House, is the official U.S. statement about impacts and vulnerabilities associated with climate variability and change.

Polsky’s task was to coordinate and synthesize input from a round of national public and scientific commentary on the topic of how land-use and land-cover change affects climate change and associated impacts and adaptation/mitigation options. Dan Brown, Professor in the School of Natural Resources and Environment and Director of the Environmental Spatial Analysis Laboratory at the University of Michigan, was the other co-Convening Lead Author for this chapter.

This effort is designed to produce a book chapter written for a lay audience. The NCA book is expected to be published in the spring/summer 2013.

The NCA is conducted under the auspices of the Global Change Research Act of 1990, which requires a report to the President and the Congress every four years that “integrates, evaluates, and interprets the findings of the U.S. Global Change Research Program; analyzes the effects of global change on the natural environment, agriculture, energy production and use, land and water resources, transportation, human health and welfare, human social systems, and biological diversity; and analyzes current trends in global change, both human-induced and natural, and projects major trends for the subsequent 25 to 100 years.”

National Climate Assessments act as status reports about climate change science, impacts and adaptation/mitigation options. These reports are based in part on observations made across the country and compare these observations to predictions from climate system models. The NCA aims to incorporate advances in the understanding of climate science into larger social, ecological, and policy systems, and with this provide integrated analyses of impacts and vulnerability.

The NCA will help evaluate the need for and effectiveness of our mitigation and adaptation activities, and to identify economic opportunities that arise as the climate changes. It will also serve to integrate information from multiple sources and highlight key findings and significant gaps in scientific knowledge.

The NCA aims to help the federal government prioritize climate science investments, and in doing so will help to provide the science that can be used by communities around the country to plan more sustainably for our future.

Professor Polsky is a geographer specializing in the human dimensions of global environmental change, emphasizing the spatial analysis of vulnerability to climate change in U.S. suburban settings. He is affiliated with Clark University's George Perkins Marsh Institute and served as Director of Clark’s HERO undergraduate research program for eight years.