Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

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5. Improving Assessments of Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Adaptation

Advances have been made since previous IPCC assessments in the detection of change in biotic and physical systems, and steps have been taken to improve the understanding of adaptive capacity, vulnerability to climate extremes, and other critical impact- related issues. These advances indicate a need for initiatives to begin designing adaptation strategies and building adaptive capacities. Further research is required, however, to strengthen future assessments and to reduce uncertainties in order to assure that sufficient information is available for policymaking about responses to possible consequences of climate change, including research in and by developing countries. [8]

The following are high priorities for narrowing gaps between current knowledge and policymaking needs:

  • Quantitative assessment of the sensitivity, adaptive capacity, and vulnerability of natural and human systems to climate change, with particular emphasis on changes in the range of climatic variation and the frequency and severity of extreme climate events
  • Assessment of possible thresholds at which strongly discontinuous responses to projected climate change and other stimuli would be triggered
  • Understanding dynamic responses of ecosystems to multiple stresses, including climate change, at global, regional, and finer scales
  • Development of approaches to adaptation responses, estimation of the effectiveness and costs of adaptation options, and identification of differences in opportunities for and obstacles to adaptation in different regions, nations, and populations
  • Assessment of potential impacts of the full range of projected climate changes, particularly for non-market goods and services, in multiple metrics and with consistent treatment of uncertainties, including but not limited to numbers of people affected, land area affected, numbers of species at risk, monetary value of impact, and implications in these regards of different stabilization levels and other policy scenarios
  • Improving tools for integrated assessment, including risk assessment, to investigate interactions between components of natural and human systems and the consequences of different policy decisions
  • Assessment of opportunities to include scientific information on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation in decisionmaking processes, risk management, and sustainable development initiatives
  • Improvement of systems and methods for long-term monitoring and understanding the consequences of climate change and other stresses on human and natural systems.

Cutting across these foci are special needs associated with strengthening international cooperation and coordination for regional assessment of impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation, including capacity-building and training for monitoring, assessment, and data gathering, especially in and for developing countries (particularly in relation to the items identified above).

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