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Updated 11 October, 2003

US National Assessment of
the Potential Consequences
of Climate Variability and Change
Region: Metro East Coast



For additional information, see the Northeast Mega-Region

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Links to Material from the Metro East Coast Assessment Group:

Related Articles from the National Assessment's Newsletter, Acclimations.

Metro East Coast Regional Assessment Luncheon.  Friday 1 March 2002, 1200-1400 hrs EST.  Location: Columbia University, Morningside Campus, Dag Hammarskjold Lounge, School of International & Public Affairs, 6th floor. Admission: By Invitation Only.   Sponsors: Columbia Earth Institute and NASA Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS).  "Stakeholders from the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the US Environmental Protection Agency Region II and the US Federal Emergency Management Agency Region II as well as university researchers, will give presentations on how climate affects their sectors. Members of the business, foundation, scientific, environmental and political communities will have the opportunity to engage in inter-sector dialogue. The recently published Metropolitan East Coast Regional Assessment will serve as the basis for discussion on how current and future climate conditions can be integrated into decision-making.  Contact: Mr. Christopher Shashkin, Tel: +1 212 678 5543

The Workshop

The workshop for the Metro East Coast, part of the series of US Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) regional climate change workshops, took place on March 23-24, 1998 at Columbia University. This series of workshops is seen as a first step in a U.S. national assessment of the potential consequences of climate variability and change. The Metropolitan East Coast region is unique in the dominant role played by human systems with respect to other physical and biological systems. One result of this is that most of the region's resources are imported and a large portion of its' waste must be exported. It follows from this that the region's impacts are often felt beyond its' boundaries.

The working groups were charged with developing assessments which integrate over the projections of the scientists and the planners. Each of the working groups included experts in physical and ecological systems as well as in human systems (e.g., economists, planners, political scientists, etc.). In addition to addressing impacts, the workshop addressed issues related to the uncertainties associated with all aspects of the challenges this region currently faces.

Issues for Analysis

The assessment considered a number of key sectors and issues that are critical in the Metro East Coast region. The key issues include: Coasts and Wetlands, Infrastructure, Water Supply, Public Health, Energy, and Institutional Decision-making. This region also considered spatial linkages between New York and other regions and equity concerns as they underlie the issues under analysis. The assessment focus was on addressing environmental and socio-economic impacts due to climate changes, recognizing that some of the current stresses in the region are complicating factors.

Strategy for the Assessment

This assessment was designed to be an application of state-of-the-art climate change science to a set of linked sectoral assessment analyses important for the Metro East Coast (MEC) region. In the assessment, three interacting elements of global cities reactions and responses to climate variability and change are illustrated. These elements include: people (e.g., socio-demographic conditions), place (e.g., physical systems), and pulse (e.g., decision-making and economic activities). The model assumes that a comprehensive assessment of potential climate change can be derived from examining the impacts within each of these elements and at their intersections. Thus the assessment was designed to determine the within-element and inter-element effects.

The U.S. National Assessment scenarios of climate and socio-economic factors were used to develop six interacting sector studies representing the three intersecting elements. Stakeholders, i.e., decision-makers associated with key regional governmental and non-governmental organizations, were involved in the development and articulation of each sector study and in the assessment as a whole. The Assessment document [PDF] is available on the web.

Principal Investigators Cynthia Rosenzweig, Columbia University
William Solecki, Montclair State University
Coordinating Federal Agency National Science Foundation
Agency Representative Tom Spence, National Science Foundation
Key Sectors/Issues
  • Water Supply
  • Coasts and Wetlands
  • Public Health (air quality)
  • Infrastructure
  • Energy
  • Institutional Decision-making

Assessment Team

  • Vivien Gornitz, GISS
  • Douglas Hill, State University of New York, Stony Brook
  • Klaus Jacob, Lamont Doherty Earth Observatory
  • David Major, GISS
  • Vijay Modi, Columbia University Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science
  • Patrick Kinney, Columbia School of Public Health
  • Rae Zimmerman, NYU

Stakeholder Partners

  • Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), Region 2
  • The Port Authority of New York and New Jersey
  • National Park Service, Gateway National Park
  • New York State Emergency Management Office (NYSEMO)
  • Southeast New York Intergovernmental Water Supply Advisory Council (SENYIWSAC)
  • New York City Department of Health
  • New York District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers
  • Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), Region 2

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