There is a growing need for short-term decision support, including rapid assessments and indicators. Workshop participants identified ways in which researchers in vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation might contribute:
Provide clear and precise quantitative estimates of climate change impacts and costs of mitigation and adaptation failures, as needed by decision makers, even if these must be accompanied by caveats and uncertainties.
Develop metrics that are useful in decision making, including integrated monetary and nonmonetary social indicators.
Identify the economic and social costs and benefits of specific adaptation measures, such as ecosystem protection, health interventions, and land use measures.
Rely on scientific foundations vetted by the IPCC to help protect against political censorship or backlash.
Increasing opportunities are arising to link diverse human–environment research methods, data and research areas, including qualitative and quantitative methods, space-based observational datasets, and security perspectives. To make these connections, researchers in the field of vulnerability, impacts and adaptation need to be clear and articulate in communicating the broad range of variables that must be included for effective, integrated, quantitative models, recognizing that appropriate inputs may vary for particular decision support goals and users. Participants noted several specific research areas in need of attention and synthesis:
Identify specific outputs needed from biogeochemical models of climate change as inputs to analyses of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation.
Elevate understanding of empirical complexities in human-environment systems, such as institutional and demographic dynamics, that are often neglected in existing impacts projections. Economic analyses tend to focus only on aggregate impacts, without looking at unquantified household- and local-level phenomena that ultimately scale up to larger scale impacts. They also tend to rely on means, excluding impacts of more extreme and nonlinear physical phenomena.
Use the strengths of systems theory to facilitate interactions across working group communities and within the vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation community.