Selecting Climate Information to Use in Climate Risk and Impact Assessments: Guide for Federal Agency Climate Adaptation Planners

White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP)
Posted on: 5/09/2023 - Updated on: 5/09/2023

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As Federal agencies continue their efforts to advance climate adaptation and resilience, as required by Executive Order 14008, they should use available, authoritative (e.g., Federal or Federally reviewed) climate information resources where feasible and appropriate. Many different resources exist, and some resources may be more appropriate for particular climate adaptation planning purposes than others.

This document provides a high-level guide for Federal agencies on selecting resources (e.g., data, tools, reports, case studies, etc.) for understanding agency climate vulnerabilities, with a particular focus on understanding exposure to current and future climate-related hazards and their potential impacts. The resources discussed in this document include climate model outputs based on different scenarios. The document also provides background information on climate models and projections, scenarios that drive climate model projections, and downscaling techniques. In addition, it provides direction on selecting scenarios. This document is particularly relevant for developing and updating agency climate adaptation plans and may be relevant for other agency climate risk assessment and adaptation and resilience efforts.

This document does not include recommendations on the full scope of climate adaptation planning. The document focuses on climate information, which can help agencies identify possible climate adaptation and resilience options and inform their adaptation plans, but the identification and implementation of climate adaptation and resilience actions are not specifically covered in this guide.

The White House Council on Environmental Quality (CEQ) provides instructions for agencies through the Climate Adaptation Planning process on standard approaches to developing adaptive strategies for Federal assets and programs. Climate change poses costly risks to Federal Government assets and operations. Climate adaptation and resilience actions can reduce those risks and may result in certain benefits that advance other goals, such as sustainability and environmental justice. Climate adaptation and resilience actions can reduce burdens today on frontline communities and vulnerable ecosystems, while nations work in concert to reduce their greenhouse gas emissions. Other Federal resources and guidance documents can help agencies identify adaptation actions that have multiple benefits. For example, in 2022, CEQ, OSTP, and the White House Domestic Climate Policy Office released a roadmap for accelerating nature-based solutions. According to this roadmap, nature-based solutions are “actions to protect, sustainably manage, or restore natural or modified ecosystems to address societal challenges, simultaneously providing benefits for people and the environment.” Additionally, good practices for adaptation are being discussed within Federal interagency working groups and communities of practice, such as the Federal Climate Adaptation Plan Network and the U.S. Global Change Research Program's Federal Adaptation and Resilience Group.


Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) (2023). Selecting Climate Information to Use in Climate Risk and Impact Assessments: Guide for Federal Agency Climate Adaptation Planners. White House Office of Science and Technology Policy. Washington, D.C.

Affiliated Organizations

Congress established the Office of Science and Technology Policy in 1976 with a broad mandate to advise the President and others within the Executive Office of the President on the effects of science and technology on domestic and international affairs. The 1976 Act also authorizes OSTP to lead interagency efforts to develop and implement sound science and technology policies and budgets, and to work with the private sector, state and local governments, the science and higher education communities, and other nations toward this end.

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