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What is a climate assessment?
A climate assessment is an essential tool for linking science and decision making related to climate change and its impacts. Assessments survey and synthesize the best-available science, highlight key information that can improve decision making, and identify significant gaps in our current understanding. The Montana Climate Assessment addresses the needs of stakeholders (i.e. what do Montanans need to know about climate change impacts in the state) by providing the current state of climate change science (i.e. providing the needed information into the hands of those who want it). The goal is to provide the best possible scientific information about climate change and its impacts in the state so that Montanans can address environmental challenges and make better decisions about the future.
What will be included in the Montana Climate Assessment?
The MCA is a sustained effort rather than a single product. The first assessment (called MCA1), available in late 2017, will focus on three of Montana’s vital sectors: forests, agriculture, and water. In the future, we hope to incorporate more sectors that are important to Montanans, including human health, tourism, and fish and wildlife. MCA1 will report on historical trends, the current status of climate in Montana, and projections of climate change for Montana’s future. It will be accessible digitally as both an interactive and downloadable web report, with hard copies available by request.
How was the content of the assessment determined?
MCA1 began with efforts to identify which climate change topics were important to Montanans in ensuring the state’s economic viability. Insights were gained from opinion surveys, conversations and listening sessions held across the state, and a team of researchers, educators, and stakeholders worked together to select the topics of water, agriculture and forests for MCA1. Members of this team included MSU and UM researchers in the Montana Institute on Ecosystems, the Montana Climate Office, Montana Water Center, Montana State University Extension, state agencies, non-profit organizations, and the public. The team also received guidance from advisors who have worked on climate assessments at the regional and national level.
Is this the first environmental assessment in Montana?
The MCA builds on a legacy of Montana environmental assessments that include previous Montana Environmental Policy Act Environmental Quality Council reports (1975 and 1996) as well as the more recent State of Montana Water Plan (2015), and the National Climate Assessment (2014). The right to a clean and healthful environment is among the inalienable rights guaranteed to Montanans in the state constitution.
Who is funding the assessment?
The MCA is funded from a combination of key sources: The National Science Foundation EPSCoR Track 1 RII grant, Montana State University, the University of Montana, the Montana EPSCoR Office, and the Montana Institute on Ecosystems.
Where can I learn more about climate in Montana?
More information about Montana’s climate can be found via the Montana Climate Office. The Montana Climate Office is the official steward of climate information for Montana. You can access useful climate change resources on their website: http://www.climate.umt.edu/
How can I participate in the public comment process?
The Montana Climate Assessment (MCA) invites all stakeholders to engage with the draft of its first assessment report (MCA1) through the public comment process, which is now live! Public comment is an opportunity for the community to provide input and feedback to the draft report before it is finalized for publication. The MCA1 draft for public comment will be undergoing external peer review simultaneously with the public comment period, and therefore will not yet be peer reviewed. The MCA team welcomes comments from the public on the content of the draft report with regard to its clarity, extensiveness, and usefulness. Comments from the public on the draft MCA1 report will be accepted electronically through the end of the comment period which closes at close of business on May 5, 2017. Additional guidance, access to the draft report, and the comment submission form are available here.
Program Director: Ray Callaway
Project Administrator: Todd Kipfer
University of Montana
Missoula, MT 59812
Office of the Commissioner of Higher Education
2500 Broadway Street
Helena, MT 59620