Journalists and scientists experienced with climate change science won’t learn much new from the 2008 edition of the National Academies’ “Understanding and Responding to Climate Change,” a highlight of reports by the National Academies of Sciences and Engineering and their National Research Council and Institute of Medicine.

But for others – do you hear the word “editors” here? – wanting a highly readable and concise overview on climate change from a highly authoritative and respected source, the free 26-page report (3.3 mB – pdf) should prove a useful addition to the book shelf or collection of online bookmarks. Visitors to that site also can request free hard copies of the report.

The report itself provides an overview of evolving climate science, of various greenhouse gases, and of human and natural activities and processes contributing to warmer global temperatures. It provides definitions and graphics explaining issues such as positive and negative feedback cycles influencing warming and cooling, outlines how climate science work gets done, and explains a range of projected impacts on humans and ecosystems.

The report is likely to prove most useful to journalists new to the climate change issue as a quick tutorial, and most likely to editors expressing continued concerns about scientific uncertainties as an authoritative voice on underlying physical science issues.

While on the site above, reporters can go to a link to sign up for monthly e-mail National Academies notices of climate change news and information.

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