National Climate Assessment’s Northern Great Plains report will feature contributions from Nebraska researchers

National Climate Assessment
National Climate Assessment

by SNR Communications

Since its first report was released in 2000, the U.S. Global Change Research Program has been responsible for producing an assessment of climate change impacts across a broad scope of sectors. That assessment, which examines the effects of natural and human-induced global change on the natural environment, agriculture, transportation, biodiversity and other areas across different regions of the U.S., is presented to the president and to Congress. The process involves teams of authors with expertise across different disciplines or fields of research in each of 10 geographical U.S. regions. The creation of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5) is currently underway, and two University of Nebraska-Lincoln Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources team members are contributing information to the Northern Great Plains Region.

Tonya Haigh, Research Assistant Professor and Social Science Coordinator for the National Drought Mitigation Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln School of Natural Resources, and Andrea Basche, UNL Department of Agronomy and Horticulture Assistant Professor and Crop Resilience Specialist, are among the co-authors who will produce the NCA5 Northern Great Plains Region chapter.

On Jan. 7, an outline of what will be covered in the NCA5 was published online as part of a request for public comment (, and on Jan. 24, the first of two Northern Great Plains Region public engagement sessions will be held. A second session is scheduled for Feb. 7. People interested in registering for that workshop, or other workshops that focus on regional or specific issues, can do so at

“I feel honored to contribute to the National Climate Assessment,” said Basche, who will contribute specifically in regards to agriculture and adaptation in the Northern Great Plains. “It is not every day that I have the opportunity to share my knowledge and expertise for such an important effort – this is truly something I would hope and work toward throughout my early career! The National Climate Assessment is a major contributor to our understanding of climate change and its impacts across the United States, and ultimately shapes policy and prioritization of efforts for many years to come.”

Haigh said that climate trends, ecological impacts, impacts on resource- and land-based livelihoods, navigating complex trade-offs, and building capacity to adapt will be the key issues that Northern Great Plains Region authors examine as they compile their portion of the NCA5. The most recent NCA5 Northern Great Plains assessment examined how climate change could impact water, agriculture, recreation and tourism, energy and Indigenous Peoples. (To read that report, visit:

“Our five-state region includes Montana, Wyoming, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota. Ranching and farming are among the key economic drivers in those states,” Haigh said. “As we’ve seen as recently as 2021, extreme weather events, like the drought that hit the Dakotas and Montana particularly hard, can have wide-ranging effects beyond agricultural impacts. In conducting interviews with ranchers who have endured similar droughts, I’ve learned not only about the economic and environmental hardships that extreme weather events can cause, but also the mental health and community hardships. The NCA5 assesses how current and future risks posed by climate change could shape life across the region, and the country.”

The team of authors began discussions about key regional issues related to climate change in the fall of 2021, Haigh said, and the process of producing the assessment is in its early stages. (It is scheduled to be released in late 2023.)

Haigh said that the authors will use the public sessions primarily to listen to what public participants have experienced related to climate change and what they see as priorities for the assessment. Over the course of 2022 and part of 2023, the authors will work to synthesize research literature, reports, case studies, and other data collections and submit their respective chapters of the NCA5.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is the administrative agency of the NCA5. To view the most recent NCA reports, which were released as two volumes in 2017 and 2018, respectively, visit and

“Our goal is to create a report that holistically represents the many different sectors – the environment, economy and more – and perspectives,” Basche said. “Gathering input from a range of communities and organizations is the only way we can achieve that goal. We look forward to learning more from Northern Great Plains stakeholders.”

More details at: