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Fourth National Climate Assessment:
Key Scientific Advances and Extreme Events

NCA Flood

Key Scientific Advances Since the 2014 National Climate Assessment

Detection and Attribution: Significant advances have been made in the attribution of the human influence for individual climate and weather extreme events.

Extreme Events and Atmospheric Circulation: How climate change may affect specific types of extreme events in the United States and the extent to which atmospheric circulation in the midlatitudes is changing or is projected to change, possibly in ways not captured by current climate models, are important areas of research where scientific understanding has advanced.

Localized Information: As computing resources have grown, projections of future climate from global models are now being conducted at finer scales (with resolution on the order of 15 miles), providing more realistic characterization of intense weather systems, including hurricanes. For the first time in the NCA process, sea level rise projections incorporate geographic variation based on factors such as local land subsidence, ocean currents, and changes in Earth’s gravitational field.

Ocean and Coastal Waters: Ocean acidification, warming, and oxygen loss are all increasing, and scientific understanding of the severity of their impacts is growing. Both oxygen loss and acidification may be magnified in some U.S. coastal waters relative to the global average, raising the risk of serious ecological and economic consequences.

Rapid Changes for Ice on Earth: New observations from many different sources confirm that ice loss across the globe is continuing and, in many cases, accelerating. Since NCA3, Antarctica and Greenland have continued to lose ice mass, with mounting evidence that mass loss is accelerating. Observations continue to show declines in the volume of mountain glaciers around the world. Annual September minimum sea ice extent in the Arctic Ocean has decreased at a rate of 11%–16% per decade since the early 1980s, with accelerating ice loss since 2000. The annual sea ice extent minimum for 2016 was the second lowest on record; the sea ice minimums in 2014 and 2015 were also among the lowest on record.

Potential Surprises: Both large-scale shifts in the climate system (sometimes called “tipping points”) and compound extremes have the potential to generate outcomes that are difficult to anticipate and may have high consequences. The more the climate changes...

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UN Secretary-General to host Climate Summit in September 2019

The United Nations Secretary-General will host a summit on climate change on 23 September 2019 at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. The purpose of the summit is twofold. First, it will mobilize political will to raise real ambition for the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals. Second, it will demonstrate transformative action in the real economy in support of the goals. Together, these developments will send strong market and political signals, and inject momentum in the “race to the top” among governments, sub-national governments, business, public and private finance, and civil society actors, which is needed to achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

The Secretary-General will invite all Heads of State and Government to the summit, to present their progress to date and their future ambition. The participation of other relevant stakeholders, who demonstrate the highest level of ambition and action, to profile their efforts will be encouraged. In order to ensure that the transformative actions in the real economy are as impactful as possible, the Secretary-General has prioritized the following action portfolios, which are recognized as having high potential to curb greenhouse gas emissions and increased global action on adaptation and resilience.

Finance: mobilizing public and private sources of finance to drive decarbonization of all priority sectors and advance resilience;

Energy Transition: accelerating the shift away from fossil fuels and towards renewable energy, as well as making significant gains in energy efficiency;

Industry Transition: transforming industries such as Oil and Gas, Steel, Cement, Chemicals and Information Technology;

Nature-Based Solutions: Reducing emissions, increasing sink capacity and enhancing resilience within and across forestry, agriculture, oceans and food systems, including through biodiversity conservation, leveraging supply chains and technology;

Cities and Local Action: Advancing mitigation and resilience at urban and local levels, with a focus on new commitments on low-emission buildings, mass transport and urban infrastructure; and resilience for the urban poor;

Resilience and Adaptation: advancing global efforts to address and manage the impacts and risks of climate change, particularly in those communities and nations most vulnerable.

To provide maximum momentum to the processes, the Secretary-General is also prioritizing Citizen and Youth Mobilization.

For each of the above priorities, facilitators will be appointed to ensure the development of transformative outcomes. All facilitators will be working with coalitions of actors from December 2018 to September 2019 to deliver the most impactful outcomes at the Summit. Due to the inherently interdependent nature of the portfolios, the facilitators may develop outcomes across two or more portfolios. These outcomes will consist of multi-stakeholder coalitions that may involve national governments, subnational governments, business, public and private finance, and civil society. The development of these outcomes will be an open process. All those interested may contribute and are encouraged to do so by engaging with the facilitators. However, only the most concrete and transformative outcomes will be delivered at the Summit. During Summer 2019, the Executive Office of the Secretary-General will conduct an “ascent” meeting, during which the most impactful outcomes will be selected to be featured at the Summit.

The summit will have no negotiated outcome. The Secretary-General will present a Chair’s Summary of the concrete outcomes delivered during the summit, with hopes that they will spur increased ambition and action in 2020 and beyond.

Regular briefings will be held with UN Member States, UNFCCC Parties, and all relevant partners to provide updates on the planning for the Summit. Details about these briefings will be communicated in due course.

More information can be found on the summit's website.

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