IPCC Fourth Assessment Report: Climate Change 2007
Climate Change 2007: Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability

4.6 Acclimation and adaptation: practices, options and constraints

Although climate change is a global issue, local efforts can help maintain and enhance resilience and limit some of the longer-term damages from climate change (e.g., Hughes et al., 2003; Singh, 2003; Opdam and Wascher, 2004). This section discusses adaptation options with respect to natural ecosystems. Adaptation of these ecosystems involves only reactive, autonomous responses to ongoing climate change, including changes in weather variability and extremes. However, ecosystem managers can proactively alter the context in which ecosystems develop. In this way they can improve the resilience, i.e., the coping capacity, of ecosystems (see Glossary). Such ecosystem management involves anticipatory adaptation options. Identifying adaptation responses and adaptation options is a rapidly developing field, so the discussion below is not exhaustive. However, one should realise that beyond certain levels of climate change (Hansen et al., 2003; Table 4.1, Figure 4.4) impacts on ecosystems are severe and largely irreversible.