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U.S. Global Change Research Program


11th, 12th, AP® / College


Science, Social Studies, Earth and Space Sciences, Civics, English Language Arts

Resource Type

  • Scientific Papers or Reports

Regional Focus

North America, United States

Fifth National Climate Assessment Introduction

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  • This introduction section of the Fifth National Climate Assessment opens with the poem "Startlement" by Ada Limón and provides students with information to understand the report.
  • Students will know the intended audience of the report, summaries of the chapters, the structure of the report, definitions and scenarios, and advances since the last report.
Teaching Tips


  • The poem, written to accompany this report, allows teachers to connect science and English language arts.
  • The report highlights advancements in including Indigenous knowledge and issues of injustice.

Additional Prerequisites

  • Students can hover over the words with a dotted underline to see their definitions. The resource also links to a glossary.
  • Teachers and students should read this introduction before the chapters because it provides critical context.
  • Students should understand the basics of climate change and its causes and impacts to get the most out of this report.


  • Students can read this introduction and then choose one chapter of the report that interests them to read and report back to the class about.
  • English language arts classes can read the poem, discuss elements of poetry present, and analyze the meaning.
  • This resource is best suited for older and more advanced students because of the formal, content-specific language. Consider reading it together as a class or in small groups to aid in understanding.
  • After reading this introduction, teachers can choose which chapter(s) best fit their curriculum. The topics covered include physical science, economics, social systems, justice, and others, making this resource applicable to many subject areas. 
  • To assess student understanding, teachers can have students summarize to peers how to read the report and identify its structural features. 
  • The overview chapter is also a good starting point, which teachers can find here.
Scientist Notes
The website from The Fifth National Climate Assessment is the release of the Fifth National Climate Assessment (NCA5), which occurred on November 14, 2023. Its front matter section delves into the risks, effects, and countermeasures related to climate change in the ten different regions of the United States. The report includes comprehensive documentation of observed and predicted vulnerabilities, risks, and repercussions linked to climate change nationwide. Additionally, it showcases ongoing response initiatives in various communities. Mandated by Congress since 1990, the NCA5 is a periodic report that offers authoritative and pertinent information for decision-making about the real-time impacts of climate change on individuals nationwide. The information in the resource is well-sourced and thoroughly researched.

This resource addresses the listed standards. To fully meet standards, search for more related resources.

  • Social Studies
    • U.S. History: America in the World - Geography, People, and the Environment
      • 6.1.12.GeoHE.13.a: Construct an argument on the effectiveness of environmental movements, their influence on public attitudes, and the efficacy of the government’s environmental protection agencies and laws.
  • Science
    • ESS3: Earth and Human Activity
      • HS-ESS3-1. Construct an explanation based on evidence for how the availability of natural resources, occurrence of natural hazards, and changes in climate have influenced human activity.
      • HS-ESS3-5. Analyze geoscience data and the results from global climate models to make an evidence-based forecast of the current rate of global or regional climate change and associated future impacts to Earth’s systems.
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