A framework for national climate indicators

Melissa A. Kenney, Anthony C. Janetos, Michael D. Gerst

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


Indicators have been proposed as critical elements for sustained climate assessment. Indicators provide a foundation for assessing change on an ongoing basis and presenting that information in a manner that is relevant to a broad range of decisions. As part of a sustained US National Climate Assessment, a pilot indicator system was implemented, informed by recommendations and (Kenney et al. 2014; Janetos and Kenney 2015; Kenney et al. Clim Chang 135(1):85–96, 2016). This paper extends this work to recommend a framework and topical categories for a system of climate indicators for the nation. We provide an overview of the indicator system as a whole: its goals, the design criteria for the indicators and the system as a whole, the selection of sectors, the use of conceptual models to transparently identify relevant indicators, examples of the actual indicators proposed, our vision for how the overall network can be used, and how it could evolve over time. Individual papers as part of this special issue provide system or sector-specific details as to how to operationalize the conceptual framework; these recommendations do not imply any decisions that are made ultimately by US federal agencies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1705-1718
Number of pages14
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number4
StatePublished - Dec 2020

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center at the University of North Carolina-Asheville, and specifically Caroline Dougherty, Karin Rogers, Ian Johnson, and Jim Fox collaborated on the prototype indicators visual style for the pilot. Current and previous Indicators Research Team members, who supported this work or indicator expert teams, include Ainsley Lloyd, Allison Baer, Rebecca Aicher, Felix Wolfinger, Omar Malik, Sarah Anderson, Julian Reyes, Samantha Ammons, Amanda Lamoureux, Maria Sharova, Eric Golman, Ella Clarke, Ryan Clark, Christian McGillen, Justin Shaifer, Olivia Poon, Jeremy Ardanuy, Ying Deng, Marques Gilliam, Andres Moreno, Jordan McCammon, Naseera Bland, and Michael Penansky. Members of the Indicators Technical Teams and NCADAC Indicators Working Group are included in Kenney et al. (2014).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2018, The Author(s).


  • Decision support
  • Global change
  • Metrics
  • Multidisciplinary
  • National Climate Assessment
  • Sustained assessment


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