NOAA social scientist to lead nation’s Sixth National Climate Assessment

Ariela Zycherman prepares for a kayak trip in the coastal waters off Stonington, Maine.

Ariela Zycherman prepares for a kayak trip in the coastal waters off Stonington, Maine. (Image credit: Ariela Zycherman)

The U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) announced today that Ariela Zycherman, Ph.D., a social scientist with NOAA’s Climate Program Office, has been named director of the Sixth National Climate Assessment (NCA6). Zycherman is the first NOAA scientist to direct the National Climate Assessment since the inaugural national climate assessment in 2000. The authoritative report published every four years is designed to help Americans understand and prepare for the impacts of climate change.

Emphasizing social science and equity to combat climate change

“We are thrilled that Ariela, a visionary environmental anthropologist focused on climate change adaptation in our communities, will lead the Sixth National Climate Assessment,” said Jainey K. Bavishi, assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere and deputy NOAA administrator. “As an agency chapter lead for the Social Systems and Justice chapter and author for the Overview of the Fifth National Climate Assessment, Ariela was instrumental in strengthening the most recent assessment, increasing emphasis on social science and equity to combat climate change. She also brings extensive experience working with diverse partners, including other federal agencies, community members, academia and beyond. ”

As the director of NCA6, Zycherman will be the primary representative of the National Climate Assessment to the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy and the federal government, as well as a wide diversity of stakeholders outside of the government.

NCA6: Looking to the future

Working closely with the USGCRP executive director, she will be responsible for all facets of the national climate assessment process, in accordance with the Global Change Research Act.  Those responsibilities include planning for, directing and delivering NCA6, exploring and advancing special reports or assessment products, and working to ensure assessment products are useful, usable and used by broad audiences.

“USGCRP is delighted to welcome Ariela to the team,” said Michael Kuperberg, USGCRP executive director. “In addition to her research and leadership background, she has first-hand experience and insights from being an author on the Fifth National Climate Assessment and working with USGCRP that make her particularly qualified for this position. We are excited to move NCA6 forward under Ariela's leadership."

Zycherman will step away from her position as program manager in NOAA’s Climate Program Office in the Climate Adaptation Partnerships program to become director of NCA6, which is scheduled to publish late 2027. 

More about Ariela Zycherman, Ph.D.

At NOAA, Zycherman supported place-based interdisciplinary research teams working with local decision makers to build capacity to adapt to climate change. She served as a special advisor to the assistant secretary of commerce for oceans and atmosphere, focusing on adaptation, resilience and equity, and served as co-chair of the USGCRP’s Social Science Coordinating Committee. 

Zycherman’s work has focused on food and agricultural systems, natural resource management, household livelihoods and decision making, and climate resilience and adaptation. She held a postdoctoral fellowship at the Institute for the Humanities at the University of Illinois, Chicago, received her Ph.D. in Applied Anthropology from Columbia University, an M.A. in Anthropology and Education from Teachers College, Columbia University, a B.A. in cultural anthropology from Binghamton University (SUNY), and a certificate in Environmental Collaboration and Conflict Resolution from the Udall Foundation


Media contact

Monica Allen,, (202) 379-6693