August 21, 2017

Trump administration decides to disband climate committee

Laura Paskus

The Silver Fire burned through the Gila National Forest in 2013.

Last week, we published a story about the Climate Science Special Report, which 13 federal agencies wrote under a mandate from Congress to assess climate science and climate change impacts in the United States. Since the last assessment was released in 2014, “stronger evidence has emerged for continuing, rapid human-caused warming of the global atmosphere and ocean,” according to the report.

On Sunday, The Washington Post and Nature both reported that the Trump administration has decided to “disband” the federal advisory panel for the National Climate Assessment. The charter for the Advisory Committee for the Sustained National Climate Assessment has expired, and will not be renewed.

According to the Washington Post story:

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray (D) said in an interview Saturday that the move to dissolve the climate advisory committee represents “an example of the president not leading, and the president stepping away from reality.” An official from Seattle Public Utilities has been serving on the panel; with its disbanding, Murray said it would now be “more difficult” for cities to participate in the climate assessment. On climate change, Trump “has left us all individually to figure it out.”

A version of the special report is online here, and as we reported last week, includes information about the impacts of warming on the southwestern United States. These impacts include:

  • Due to changes in future precipitation patterns, the Southwest may experience chronic drought, especially during springtime.
  • Rising winter temperatures will cause less precipitation to fall as snow. That has the potential to disrupt western U.S. water management practices.
  • In the Southwest, the combination of temperature increases and precipitation decreases will decrease soil moisture, including at root depth.
  • In the western U.S., winter and spring snowpack are expected to decline. Early snowmelt in the spring, and its impacts on water management, will be exacerbated with continued warming.
  • Under higher emissions scenarios, and without changes to current water management systems, “chronic, long-duration hydrological drought is increasingly possible by the end of this century.”
  • Hot summers will become more frequent, and droughts in the Southwest “are likely to be more intense” due to faster evaporation and surface drying.
  • Average temperature increased by more than 1.5°F (0.8°C) in Alaska, the Northwest, the Southwest, and Northern Great Plains.
  • While some parts of the northern United States, are projected to receive more precipitation in the winter and spring, parts of the Southwest are projected to receive less precipitation in the winter and spring.