Adaptation Online was launched in 2008 as a clearinghouse for climate adaptation information. Submissions and comments are welcome.
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Thursday, December 18, 2008

Dewberry Seeks a Climate Change Strategist

Climate Change Strategist
Tracking Code

Job Description

Works on climate change consulting projects for federal, state, and local governmental agency clients, with emphasis on assessing impacts of climate change on extreme weather events and natural disasters and developing adaptation strategies. Supports assessment of market opportunities and development of business strategies related to climate change. Helps company build a growing climate change consulting services practice.

  • Works on climate change consulting projects for federal, state, and local government agency clients, with emphasis on impacts of climate change on extreme weather events and natural disasters. The scope of these projects typically entails one or more of the following: 1) analyzing/assessing the potential effects, impacts, and consequences of climate change on the built environment and natural ecosystems (especially related to impacts on natural disasters); and 2) developing and evaluating adaption and disaster response strategies to respond to the associated risks.
  • Writing reports and other documents for, and making formal and informal presentations to, both technical and lay audiences.
  • Works with corporate Marketing to prepare marketing content and materials (e.g., web content, brochures, conference displays, etc.) related to the climate change service line.
  • Networks in climate change field, including participating and presenting at relevant stakeholder associations and conferences and meeting with potential clients and business partners.
  • Acts as an internal consultant and analyst on a range of projects related to natural hazard identification, risk assessment, mitigation, and disaster response.
  • Analyzes climate change market opportunities and recommends business strategies to Senior Management.

Required Experience

  • An MS degree (or higher) in climatology, meteorology, atmospheric science, environmental science, or related field.
  • 10+ years of experience in performing studies related to climate, climate change, and/or extreme weather events.
  • Demonstrated strong working knowledge and understanding of climate change science, including IPCC, CCSP, and other research and studies, as well as state and Federal laws, regulations, and policies related to climate change.
  • Strong skills in statistical analyses
  • High level of interpersonal skills – position requires demonstrated poise, tact and diplomacy.
  • Strong oral and written communication skills, including demonstrated ability to: 1) produce written technical documents for technical and lay audiences; and 2) make formal and informal presentations to technical and lay audiences
  • Ability to cross-train staff to move the company to the leading edge of the climate change market.
  • Proficiency in MS Office applications, including MS Word, Excel, Powerpoint and Outlook.

Job Location - Fairfax, VA, US
Position Type - Full-Time/Regular

Application information available here.

Wednesday, December 17, 2008

Igniting Change in Local Government

I, and several co-authors, recently published a paper summarising our experiences working with local government stakeholders in Sydney, Australia on climate change vulnerability assessment. The abstract from the paper, appearing in Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change, is below:

Abstract Local governments and communities have a critical role to play in adapting to climate variability and change. Spatial vulnerability assessment is one tool that can facilitate engagement between researchers and local stakeholders through the visualisation of climate vulnerability and the integration of its biophysical and socio-economic determinants. This has been demonstrated through a case study from Sydney, Australia where a bushfire vulnerability assessment was undertaken as the first-step in a project to investigate local government perceptions of climate vulnerability and adaptive capacity. A series of relevant biophysical and socio-economic indicators was identified that represented the region’s exposure, sensitivity and adaptive capacity with respect to bushfires. These indicators were then combined to develop maps of net landscape vulnerability to bushfire. When presented in a workshop setting, vulnerability maps were successful in capturing the attention of stakeholders while simultaneously conveying information regarding the diversity of drivers that can contribute to current and future vulnerability. However, stakeholders were reluctant to embrace representations of vulnerability that differed from their own understanding of hazard, necessitating the demonstration of agreement between the vulnerability assessment and more conventional hazard assessment tools. This validation opened the door for public dissemination of vulnerability maps, the uptake and use of the assessment in local government risk assessment and adaptation planning, and more focused case-studies on barriers to adaptation.

Keywords Climate change . Adaptive capacity . Vulnerability assessment . Stakeholder engagement . Bushfire

Annual Global Temperature Report

The World Meteorological Organisation has made its annual announcement regarding global mean temperature trends:

Geneva, 16 December 2008 (WMO) – The year 2008 is likely to rank as the 10th warmest year on record since the beginning of the instrumental climate records in 1850, according to data sources compiled by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO). The global combined sea-surface and land-surface air temperature for 2008 is currently estimated at 0.31°C/0.56°F above the 1961-1990 annual average of 14.00°C/57.2°F. The global average temperature in 2008 was slightly lower than that for the previous years of the 21st century due in particular, to the moderate to strong La NiƱa that developed in the latter half of 2007.

Real Climate has posted its amusing take on the avalanche of media coverage, spin and misinformation that is likely to ensue.
The great thing about complex data is that one can basically come up with any number of headlines describing it - all of which can be literally true - but that give very different impressions. Thus we are sure that you will soon read that 2008 was warmer than any year in the 20th Century (with the exception of 1998), that is was the coolest year this century (starting from 2001), and that 7 or 8 of the 9 warmest years have occurred since 2000. There will undoubtedly also be a number of claims made that aren't true; 2008 is not the coolest year this decade (that was 2000), global warming hasn't 'stopped', CO2 continues to be a greenhouse gas, and such variability is indeed predicted by climate models.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Wanted: Coastal Management Specialist

I.M. Systems Group, Inc. (IMSG) ( is looking for a motivated individual to join our team at the NOAA Coastal Services Center (CSC) (, a federal facility in Charleston, South Carolina. The NOAA CSC serves the nation’s state coastal programs and others concerned with coastal zone issues and management by providing them with information, services, and technology.

This position will support the CSC’s Coastal Learning Services (CLS) program. CLS serves the nation's coastal resource managers through training workshops, professional conferences, and meeting support services. The program also provides a wide range of related consulting services on topics that include instructional design, follow up technical support on implementing skills learned via course work, and facilitation. This exciting position will help foster sustainable, cutting edge coastal community development practices by training coastal professionals and decision-makers.


  • Serves as climate adaptation, land-use and/or community resilience planning consultant, providing technical assistance for state and local coastal management practitioners and other CSC partners
  • Provides training in the areas of adaptation to climate change, land-use planning, and/or community resilience planning and related areas
  • Designs and develops new training based on CSC customer needs, conducts appropriate needs assessments
  • Develops learning networks of coastal professionals focused on climate adaptation.
    Monitors climate adaptation developing trends and best practices.


  • MS in urban or regional planning or related field, and a minimum two years directly related experience; planning certification a plus
  • Demonstrated knowledge and skills in community adaptation to climate change, land-use planning, smart growth principles, and/or coastal community resilience to hazards
  • Ability to design and deliver effective learning activities for the coastal management community; knowledge of instructional design and training methodologies for adult learners a plus
  • Excellent oral and presentation skills
  • Ability to develop and engage learning networks
  • Experience with web-based or other distance learning a plus

To Apply:
Applicants should email their resume and salary requirements to with the following subject line: CSC08004 - Coastal Climate Change Specialist.
IMSG is an equal opportunity employer.

Sunday, December 7, 2008

Debate on Arrangements for Adaptation Financing Continues

The race to get the Adaptation Fund Board (AFB) up and running by early 2009 is on. The AFB, currently administered by the World Bank, was created to provide funding for adaptation through the sales of carbon credits from the Clean Development Mechanism. In Poznan, Tuvalu submitted a proposal to grant the AFB its own legal status, but it remains to be seen whether other nations will accept this proposal.

The urgency of building a robust funding mechanism for adaptation is underpinned by frequent UN estimates of the costs of adaptation, the latest estimate being $130 billion per year by 2030 (put forth by Executive Secretary of the UNFCCC, Yvo de Boer). However, it is unclear the extent to which such estimates represent the costs of adaptation to climate change versus the costs of achieving UN development goals. If the latter, then climate adaptation simply becomes another vehicle for securing traditional overseas development assistance (ODA). Given the failure of many developed nations (such as the US) to fulfill their existing obligations with respect to ODA, it is difficult to find fault with attempts to hitch the development wagon to climate change. In any case, with current funding for the AFB sitting at only $21 billion, it would seem that the institution is inadequate for any of the tasks with which it is charged.

Saturday, December 6, 2008

Adaptation Challenges in California

The Public Policy Institute of California has released a study of adaptation challenges and barriers in California, focused on six key sectors - water resources, electricity, coastal resources, air quality, public health, and ecosystem resources. The report identifies six key tasks for the state as it moves forward with the development a climate change adaptation strategy:

    • Improve the basic science on climate impacts, particularly at the regional and local levels.
    • Help frontline actors, such as city and county governments, interpret the science and determine which levels of climate risks to plan for, over which time frames.
    • Determine where early actions are needed—when a failure to act now will result in much greater cost or reduce future flexibility. These areas currently include infrastructure investment and habitat protection.
    • Refine existing adaptation tools and experiment with new ones.
    • Strengthen the incentives for coordinated action at the regional level and seek federal cooperation.
    • Make legal and regulatory adjustments to facilitate adaptation.

Thursday, December 4, 2008

The Adaptation Myth

Robert Repetto of Yale University has authored a proactive new report that argues that adaptation to the "climate crisis" is a myth. In building his argument, he juxtaposes the standard assumptions about high adaptive capacity in the developed world with some of the natural hazard management failures that have occurred despite such capacity: hurricanes, flood management, water resources management. His conclusion: the state of adaptation planning and implementation is underwhelming, particularly given that climate change has been on the radar for decades. Furthermore, the generally optimistic assumptions about the adaptive capacity of developed nations are overly optimistic.

On one hand, this argument is self-evident. There are copious examples of poor environmental risk management to draw from, particularly with the benefit of hindsight. Meanwhile there are few quality examples where long-term strategic actions have been implemented in anticipation of future climate change. On the other hand, we know that adaptation is, in fact, occurring - it always has been (e.g., this report from the OECD or this one from the Heinz Center). Human beings are nothing if not adaptive, and in some cases, that adaptation can occur very quickly (although the standard paradigm would seem to be one of reactive adaptation after the fact). An interesting question, therefore, is how to reconcile these seemingly opposing perspectives, both of which appear to be valid.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Melbourne Continues to Dodge Stage 4

Melbourne's water supplies suffered a bit of a setback this spring, with insufficient rainfall to top-up the dwindling reservoirs and the long hot summer soon to arrive. At present, storages are at just 34% of capacity. Nevertheless, the city manages to discover new and interesting mechanisms to avoid implementing Stage 4 water restrictions, which should kick-in when storage levels reach 29.3% of capacity. As Stage 4 would mean no one could fill-up his swimming pool or water her garden (or footy field!!!), it's a safe bet the the Victoria government will continue to innovate solutions. First there was the development of "Stage 3a" restrictions - presumably something between Stage 3 and 4 - which have been in effect since April 2007. Now we have Target 155 - a voluntary bid to limit household per capita water consumption to 155 litres per day. This follows on successful bids in both Brisbane and Bendigo to curtail household water consumption (although one should not that those reductions came in conjunction with Stage 5 and Stage 4 water restrictions, respectively). So Melbourne continues to avoid bringing in Stage 4, but one must wonder whether the city would have been better off if it had pushed ahead with Stage 4 restrictions back in 2007. Hoping for rain around the corner no longer appears to be a robust management strategy, and it will still be sometime before the proposed desalination plan is up and running.

This is Not Adaptation (Or is It)?

Venice, a city well known for periodic flooding, has outdone even itself, with the most recent acqua alta ranking as the fourth highest tide since 1872. The inevitable prospect of more frequent and more extreme flooding in a changing climate does not necessarily bode well for the city (unless it goes the way of Seattle and simply abandons its ground floors). On the other hand, by now the city appears to be prepared to cope with such events by simply taking it on the chin. There's a flood warning system not to mention the now infamous raised wooden platforms that allow people to remain high and dry (although in this situation the flood water were apparently too high for even this management technique). It seems that getting one's feet wet may soon become an unavoidable aspect of a romantic trip to Venice, but not if the £3.7 billion Moses Flood Barrier currently under construction has anything to say about it. Should that project be completed (rumour has it that it's short of funds) and proves successful, it will certainly rank as an impressive technical solution to a problem centuries in the making.