The stresses associated with climate change are expected to be felt keenly as human population grows to a projected 9 billion by the middle of this century, increasing the demand for resources and supporting infrastructure. Therefore, information to assess vulnerabilities to climate change is needed to support policies and investments designed to increase resilience in human and Earth systems.
There are currently many observing systems that capture elements of how climate is changing, for example, direct measurements of atmospheric and ocean temperature. Although those measurements are essential for understanding the scale and nature of climate change, they do not necessarily provide information about the impacts of climate change on humans that are especially relevant for political and economic planning and decision making.
Monitoring Climate Change Impacts tackles the challenge of developing an illustrative suite of indicators, measurements (and the locations around the globe where the measurements can be applied), and metrics that are important for understanding global climate change and providing insight into environmental sustainability. Eight panels provided input on: cryosphere, land-surface and terrestrial ecosystems, hydrology and water resources, atmosphere, human health and other dimensions, oceans (both physical and biological/chemical), and natural disasters. The book also provides an illustrative set of metrics that are likely to be affected by climate change over the next 20-25 years and, when taken together, can potentially give advance warning of climate-related changes to the human and environment systems.