Adaptation Online was launched in 2008 as a clearinghouse for climate adaptation information. Submissions and comments are welcome.
Contact Adaptation Online: adaptonline@gmail.com

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Climate Change in the Middle East

The World Bank has launched a web site on climate change in the Middle East and North Africa region. The website provides information on both mitigation activities in the region as well as efforts to reduce its vulnerability to climate change. The site identifies key vulnerabilities include water scarcity, flood, and social insecurity arising from conflict. The site also links to the World Bank's draft regional business plan, which outlines the World Bank's proposed activities in the region through 2011.

Friday, June 27, 2008

Adaptation for Australian Agriculture

CSIRO has released a report prepared for Land and WaterAustralia examining adaptation options for Australian agriculture.

The report includes discussion of impacts and adaptation for the following agricultural sectors and identifies a number of conclusions regarding the state of knowledge on the efficacy of different options and recommendaiton for future investigations:

  • grains
  • cotton
  • rice
  • sugarcane
  • viticulture
  • horticulture
  • forestry
  • grazing
  • intensive livestock
  • water resources
  • fisheries and aquaculture

IFPRI Launches New Climate Change Webpage

The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has launched a new Climate Change webpage that features its research on the assessment of, adaptation to, and mitigation of these risks. Highlights include a BMZ-funded research project that seeks to help policymakers and stakeholders in Ethiopia and South Africa develop climate change adaptation strategies. The page links to explanations of its analysis using IFPRI’s IMPACT model and the MIRAGE model. The page also includes podcasts, a 2-page brochure of IFPRI’s climate change work, and a new paper on the Impact of Climate Change and Bioenergy on Nutrition.

Climate Change in Queensland

The Queensland (Australia) Government has released a brief review of climate change science and impacts for the state.

From the Executive Summary:

Implications for Queensland
Queensland is particularly vulnerable to climate change, as:
• Many of our important sectors (agriculture, tourism) are climate-dependent.
• Most of our population lives on the coast and is at risk from more extreme weather and rising sea levels.
• Our ecologically rich areas, such as the Great Barrier Reef and Wet Tropics rainforest, are vulnerable to a signifi cant loss of biodiversity.
Urgent steps are necessary to stabilise our greenhouse gas emissions at a level where dangerous climate change impacts can be avoided. We must also move quickly to implement adaptation measures to reduce the impacts likely to result from greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. Putting in place actions to minimise the potential impacts of climate change will be essential in ensuring Queensland’s future.

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Climate Impacts and Adaptation in Western Port, Victoria


The Western Port Greenhouse Alliance in Victoria, Australia has released the outcomes of it's climate change assessment project that has been two years in the making.

From the WPGA website:

People, Property and PlaceImpacts of Climate Change on Human
Settlements in the Western Port Region: an Integrated Assessment

This project is one of a small number of climate change ‘integrated
assessment’ projects being conducted across Australia. The project builds on and
extends The Climate Change Impacts and Adaptation in Western Port scoping study
(see elsewhere on this website), initiated in 2005 by the Western Port
Greenhouse Alliance (WPGA), a grouping of the five local governments that
surround Western Port in the region to the immediate south-east of the Melbourne
metropolitan area.

This scoping study established that climate change is an emerging issue
for the Western Port community and identified the need for more detailed
regional information on the potential impacts of climate change, as well as an
understanding of processes that could assist local decision-making on the
issue.

The project Impacts of Climate Change on Human Settlements in the
Western Port Region was conducted over two years and examined climate change
impacts on the region’s built environment and communities as well as local
adaptation responses to those impacts. It set out to improve understanding of
the scientific, economic and social impacts of climate change in the Western
Region in order to:

• enhance the capacity and knowledge of local
governments and other decision-makers in the region to prepare for and adapt to
climate change; and
• develop an approach to climate change assessment and
adaptation that has transferability to other regions in Australia.

The Western Port Climate Change Integrated Assessment project consisted
of four major phases:

1) projecting changes to key climate drivers and associated biophysical
impacts in the region. Changes examined included sea level rises, average and
extreme rainfall, storm surge, temperature and fire weather. Outputs of this
phase are provided in three biophysical impacts reports – see the links below if
you wish to see these. This phase of the project was largely completed by CSIRO.

2) examining the nature and extent of potential impacts to the region’s
built environment (land, housing and public and private infrastructure) as well
as an assessment of the social and economic implications of the impacts and the
vulnerability of different localities and groups. Marsden Jacob Associates (MJA)
conducted this phase of the project, with input from CSIRO.

3) identifying and developing a priority list of risks to local governments
associated with the impacts. A series of risk assessments, led by Broadleaf
International and involving upwards of 60 council staff, were undertaken with
each of the region’s local councils. These are now being considered within the
work programs of each local council.

4) adaptation options and barriers to effective response to the high
priority risks which will be explored with local councils, state government and
other key regional decision makers. Considering options and implementing actions
will also feature in the work programs of councils into the future.

Project Downloads
Executive Summary of the People, Property and Places report
Information Summary Table
People, Property and Places - Full report
General Biophysical Report
Rainfall Biophysical Report
Storm Surge Biophysical Report
Answers to Frequently Asked Questions

Monday, June 23, 2008

Adaption Options for Climate-Sensitive Ecosystems


The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency has released yet another of the Climate Change Science Program's synthesis and assessment products - this one focussing on adaptation of natural resources. At 910 pages, it's hard to imagine this being a helpful synthesis, but it does identify seven general categories of adaptation strategies:
1) Protecting key ecosystem features
2) Reducing anthropogenic stresses
3) Representation (preservation of species variants)
4) Replication (preservation of multiple examples of ecosystem types)
5) Ecosystem restoration
6) Refugia
7) Relocation

Saturday, June 21, 2008

More Extremes for the United States

The U.S. Climate Change Science Program has released another of its synthesis and assessment products, Weather and Climate Extremes in a Changing Climate. The report summarises the science regarding observed changes in climate extremes in the U.S. and its territories and captures the state of knowledge regarding how climate change might influence these events in the future.

Some highlights from the summary:

"Many extremes and their associated impacts are now changing. For example,
in recent decades most of North America has been experiencing more unusually
hot days and nights, fewer unusually cold days and nights, and fewer frost days. Heavy downpours have become more frequent and intense. Droughts are becoming more severe in some regions, though there are no clear trends for North America as a whole. The power and frequency of Atlantic hurricanes have increased substantially in recent decades, though North American mainland land-falling hurricanes do not appear to have increased over the past century. Outside the tropics, storm tracks are shifting northward and the strongest storms are becoming even stronger.

In the future, with continued global warming, heat waves and heavy downpours are very likely to further increase in frequency and intensity. Substantial areas of North America are likely to have more frequent droughts of greater severity. Hurricane wind speeds, rainfall intensity, and storm surge levels are likely to increase. The strongest cold season storms are likely to become more frequent, with stronger winds and more extreme wave heights."

Adaptation in Africa

The International Institute for Environment and Development has released a brief on actions underway in Africa to cope with climate variability and climate change.

Thursday, June 19, 2008

Ocean Warming Catches Up

A new study in the journal Nature has located previously missing warming of the ocean. After correcting biases in ocean temperature observations, the study found that ocean warming and thermal expansion trends for the past five decades are 50% larger than earlier previously estimated. This finding brings warming trends for the ocean into better agreement with model estimates and aids in attributing cause to observed increases in sea level. Unfortunately, the findings also suggest that the surface ocean offers no refuge from global warming to the Earth's biodiversity.

Wisconsin Launches Climate Impacts Initiative

The University of Wisconsin-Madison and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) have formed a partnership to start-up the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts (WICCI). WICCI will

"assess and anticipate climate change impacts on specific Wisconsin natural
resources, ecosystems and regions; evaluate potential effects on industry,
agriculture, tourism and other human activities; and develop and recommend
adaptation strategies that can be implemented by businesses, farmers, public
health officials, municipalities, resource managers and other
stakeholders."

See also this

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Japan Launches Climate Fund

Japan's Prime Minister Yasuo Fukudo has announced a $10 billion climate fund to aid developing nations address climate change. The funds will be allocated to support development of clean energy as well as adaptation for the most vulnerable nations (however, it looks like the bulk of the resources will target the mitigation front).

Monday, June 16, 2008

Crumbling Foundations

This recent article on the declining state of U.S. urban infrastructure would seem to raise some significant concerns regarding the nation's preparedness with respect to climate change and adaptation. While the American Society of Engineers suggests that the U.S. will need 1.6 trillion and five years to bring its infrastructure up-to-date, some mayors attribute the decline in infrastructure to the practice of Congressional earmarking, which provides local projects in the absence of national prioritisation and investment.

If the built environment of the U.S. is rotten at its core, perhaps the oft-cited high adaptive capacity of the U.S. (and other developed nations) is over-rated. Massive investments will be needed over the coming decades just to maintain the status quo, much less prepare for climate change. On the other hand, the retirement of aging infrastructure may also provide opportunities for mainstreaming consideration for climate change into the design of new infrastructure. The fact that the high costs of infrastructure upkeep have to date largely deterred needed investments, however, suggests anticipatory strategic planning for the adaptation of infrastructure may be wishful thinking.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

National Academies Demand Adaptation and Mitigation

In anticipation of the G8 meeting next month, the national academies of science from the G8 nations along with Brazil, China, India, Mexico and South Africa have issued a statement on climate change adaptation and the need to transition to a low carbon society. While citing the need to accelerate economic tools for incentivizing the development of low-carbon energy systems, the statement also points out that climate impacts and vulnerability are with us at present and therefore adaptation must be part of the strategy:

"A strategic approach to adaptation must be based on the principle of sustainable development. As an immediate first step, governments can take measures to improve resilience to existing environmental stresses. Such measures will, in turn, reduce exposure to the threat posed by climate change. This involves governments recognizing the role that ecosystems and the natural resource base play in meeting basic needs (water, food and shelter). This strategic approach can be strengthened with more targeted measures once detailed assessments of the impacts and key vulnerabilities have been carried out."

Sunday, June 8, 2008

Climate Change Toolkit For Regulatory Services

The UK's Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services has released a toolkit to aid planning among regulatory services of local government, which addresses carbon, sustainability as well as climate adaptation. The toolkit is generally provides only introductory information on climate change and its risks, but encourages local governments to prepare adaptation action plans, similar to that developed for London.

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Preparing Florida for Climate Change

The Florida Ocean and Coastal Coalition has released the final version of its report outlining a policy strategy for the protection of Florida in light of future sea-level rise. Examples of specific adaptation strategies to cope with a range of climate impacts are provided below:

Preparing For Sea-Level Rise

• The state should undertake a comprehensive reevaluation of the Coastal Construction Control Line regulatory program to ensure that it is accomplishing the intended goals of protecting life, property, and the beach/dune system.

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection and other relevant agencies should develop state wetlands conservation and restoration plans that promote designation of wetland migration as sea levels rise, thereby protecting the valuable benefits they provide.

• Federal, state, and local governments should replace economic incentives for private development in high risk coastal areas with incentives to relocate and build in other areas and invest in coastal conservation.

Dealing with Extreme Weather Events

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should upgrade stormwater regulations, taking the likelihood of heavier rainfall events into consideration. Policies should focus on Low Impact Development methods, both for new developments and retrofits in existing developed areas.

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should evaluate/revise the Florida Water Plan (and regional water management plans) to explicitly address climate change.

• The States of Florida, Georgia, and Alabama should actively engage in a collaborative eff ort to develop and implement a long-term regional water management plan that incorporates climate change and takes a more coordinated approach to water management.

Reducing The Impacts Of Higher Ocean Temperatures

• The Florida Department of Environmental Protection should evaluate and monitor the effectiveness of the state’s collective coastal and aquatic managed areas and coastal zone management programs in supporting biological diversity among fish and wildlife species and should develop strategies to strengthen these programs.

• The Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission should promote the rebuilding of depleted coastal and ocean fish populations since depleted populations will have a harder time dealing with the additional stresses posed by climate change and warming waters.

• Congress should enact climate adaptation legislation that would provide funding as well as require federal and state agencies to protect and strengthen the health of coastal and ocean ecosystems.

Addressing Acidification

• Federal and state agencies should make monitoring of ocean pH and calcifi cation rates a part of the coral monitoring plans in the Tortugas Ecological Reserve, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Biscayne National Park, and Oculina Bank Habitat Area of Particular Concern.

• Relevant federal and state agencies should invest in studies to better understand the ecological impacts of ocean acidification.

Sunday, June 1, 2008

Getting Real on Climate Change

Martin Parry, Jean Palutikof, Clair Hanson & Jason Lowe issued a challenge of sorts in the latest edition of Nature Reports Climate Change: "Both emissions reduction and adaptation will need to be much stronger than currently planned if dangerous global impacts of climate change are to be avoided. "

The quartet argue that knowledge of the marginal damages associated with warming is now sufficient to support robust emissions reductions target setting. This seems a bit of a stretch, given large uncertainties persist with respect to the responses of natural and human systems to climate change, not to mention the fact that marginal damages is not the only criterion upon which targets are likely to be based. Nevertheless, Parry et al. argue for an 80% reduction in emissions by 2050 based upon their reading of potential damages. While this progressive tightening of targets reflects the consequences of delay in actually achieving reductions, increasingly ambitious targets will do nothing to reduce risk if they aren't actually achieved (or achievable).

Hence, for our purposes, what is more important is the emphasis they place on the need for adaptation:

"However, even with an 80 per cent emissions cut, damages will be large: any impact that occurs below a temperature rise of 1 °C (Figs. 1 and 2) is likely to be unavoidable, even under the most stringent mitigative action. Residual damage will be great unless we invest in adaptation now. Much of the damage could be avoided by adaptation, but again, this would require a much larger effort than is currently planned."

Revisiting US Climate Science and Impacts


The US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has recently gotten into the spirit of the Global Change Research Act of 1990 and released a synthesis assessment report of the state of climate change science in the United States. Although largely a cut-and-paste job of IPCC reports and prior products from the CCSP, at least it's a one-stop-shop for a US-specific update on the state of the science. However, while this report (as well as another recent release specifically on impacts) is designed to be policy-relevant, the effective lack of discussion of mitigation or adaptation provides us with greater understanding of the problem, but with little insight into possible solutions. The CCSP appears to think that its mandate does not extend into the realm of rapidly advancing public policy. But without discussion of policy options and their implications for reducing vulnerability and risk and the associated costs, will decision-makers be properly equipped to act?