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

TS.6 Advances in knowledge and future research needs

TS 6.1 Advances in knowledge

Since the IPCC Third Assessment, the principal advances in knowledge have been as follows.

  • Much improved coverage of the impacts of climate change on developing regions, through studies such as the AIACC project (Assessments of Impacts and Adaptations to Climate Change in Multiple Regions and Sectors), although further research is still required, especially in Latin America and Africa [9.ES, 10.ES, 13.ES].
  • More studies of adaptation to climate change, with improved understanding of current practice, adaptive capacity, the options, barriers and limits to adaptation [17.ES].
  • Much more monitoring of observed effects, and recognition that climate change is having a discernible impact on many natural systems [1.ES, F1.1].
  • Some standardisation of the scenarios of future climate change underpinning impact studies, facilitated by centralised data provision through organisations such as the IPCC Data Distribution Centre, thus allowing comparison between sectors and regions [2.2.2].
  • Improved understanding of the damages for different levels of global warming, and the link between global warming and the probability of stabilising CO2 at various levels. As a result, we know more about the link between damages and CO2-stabilisation scenarios [20.7.2, T20.8, T20.9].

However, there has been little advance on:

  • impacts under different assumptions about how the world will evolve in future – societies, governance, technology and economic development;
  • the costs of climate change, both of the impacts and of response (adaptation and mitigation);
  • proximity to thresholds and tipping points;
  • impacts resulting from interactions between climate change and other human-induced environmental changes.