Presentations

Tom Wilbanks opened the workshop with the assertion that in recent months several things have changed in the U.S. climate policy context:

  1. Decision makers have increasingly expressed interest in the consequences of climate change.

  2. Climate change predictions are giving greater credence to more severe climate changes, including larger average temperature increases, increased frequency and severity of extreme events, and related impacts.

  3. Policy interest in adaptation is increasing, including interest in practical action as well as theoretical analysis. The existing research community does not necessarily have ready-made answers about practical actions.

  4. Climate scientists and integrated assessment modelers are now considering vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation and requesting assistance in the identification of information needs and knowledge bases. Their large, centralized modeling approaches are unfamiliar to some researchers already conducting research on vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation with strengths in field-based case studies.

Wilbanks suggested that these changes should impel scientists working on vulnerability, impacts, and assessment, and decision makers who rely on this research, to establish research priorities.

Cynthia Rosenzweig observed that Working Group II (on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability) of the International Panel on Climate



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Presentations Tom Wilbanks opened the workshop with the assertion that in recent months several things have changed in the U.S. climate policy context: 1. Decision makers have increasingly expressed interest in the conse- quences of climate change. 2. Climate change predictions are giving greater credence to more severe climate changes, including larger average temperature increases, increased frequency and severity of extreme events, and related impacts. 3. Policy interest in adaptation is increasing, including interest in practical action as well as theoretical analysis. The existing research com- munity does not necessarily have ready-made answers about practical actions. 4. Climate scientists and integrated assessment modelers are now considering vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation and requesting assis- tance in the identification of information needs and knowledge bases. Their large, centralized modeling approaches are unfamiliar to some researchers already conducting research on vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation with strengths in field-based case studies. Wilbanks suggested that these changes should impel scientists work- ing on vulnerability, impacts, and assessment, and decision makers who rely on this research, to establish research priorities. Cynthia Rosenzweig observed that Working Group II (on impacts, adaptation, and vulnerability) of the International Panel on Climate 

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 NEW DIRECTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE Change (IPCC) includes the widest array of disciplines of all the IPCC working groups. It has taken some time for this group to synthesize the wide range of research in the field and to develop clear messages that are easily communicated to the larger IPCC process. However, in the fourth IPCC assessment, integration of Group II’s findings in the final synthesis report for policy makers represented significant progress. The field of climate vulnerability, impacts and adaptation is gaining greater recognition, but researchers need to continue the hard work of advancing our methodologies. This work will require funding and self- organization. The intensity of IPCC meeting and report schedules has not provided opportunities for the research community to evaluate the IPCC process, identify institutional needs, or explore follow-up options. The present meeting is unique in offering this venue, and is timely in follow- ing closely after the release of the IPCC’s fourth assessment report. MARTIN PARRy Martin Parry, cochair of IPCC Working Group II, talked about trends in climate change and responses, research priorities, and the IPCC process. Trends in Climate Change and Responses Parry pointed out that global greenhouse gas emissions are accelerat- reenhouse ing, including CO2 (carbon dioxide) as the largest contributor. Without mitigation, these emissions will continue to grow. Since the third IPCC assessment in 2001, the upper range of projected temperature increases has been revised upward, and a greater range of uncertainty has been established. Of 29,000 data sets on environmental trends, 90 percent of 9,000 observed trends are in the direction expected from anthropogenic warm- ing. These trends can be seen on every continent. Some climate effects may be occurring faster than expected. Such effects present policy challenges, but they also provide opportunities to gain information useful to future adaptation planning. For example: • Early identification of the most vulnerable regions and sensitive sectors has begun, although reporting and results are limited thus far. • Some ecosystem changes, including species extinctions, have now been quantitatively assessed. • Reduced water availability is a primary driver of secondary impacts, especially in the dry tropics. • Crop yield responses will vary regionally, but many projections trend downward, with greater temperature increases, especially in low latitudes.

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 PRESENTATIONS • Already stressed and marginal environments, such as tundra, boreal forest, mountains, mangroves, and coral reefs, will see more imme- diate impacts. • Major impacts are likely from altered frequencies and intensities of extreme weather. • Densely populated megadeltas are most at risk, especially in Asia and Africa, as well as small islands and the Arctic. • In all regions, poor, elderly, young, and marginalized people are most vulnerable, regardless of national economic prosperity. • Poverty will aggravate health impacts. Some large-scale events such as ice sheet melting and thermohaline circulation shifts, which would cause very large impacts, are possible, and will become more likely after 2100. Although timing is uncertain, aggregate economic impacts of climate change are negative. Outcomes will vary, contingent on development and investment decisions. Sustainable development approaches can reduce vulnerability in many instances, but climate change will impede sustain- able development, as multiple stresses converge to amplify total impacts. Climate change becomes a multiplier of other threats. Many adaptation options are available, but very few cost and efficacy analyses exist. Some limited adaptation is occurring now, and some sectors exhibit more elas- ticity than others. Coping range, or the ability to live with a range of climate futures, varies among regions, making planning difficult and complex. Both mitigation and adaptation efforts are urgently required. Aggressive mitigation can avoid, reduce, or delay many impacts, and is imperative in order to avoid major catastrophe at the global scale. Some impacts cannot be averted, however, especially at the regional scale, due to the chemophysical inertia of the earth system. Partly due to the delay in considering adaptation as necessary public policy, major uncertainties remain about: • impacts under different development pathways, • impacts under varying mitigation strategies, • adaptive capacities, including technological, social, and economic, and • optimal ratios of adaptation and mitigation. Research Priorities With this information as background, Parry identified several research topics for the vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation community:

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 NEW DIRECTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE 1. the observed effects of climate change: adaptation rates, sensitivi- ties, and learning; 2. the scaling and mapping of climate change impacts against a range of mitigation pathways, including unavoided climate change, and fill gaps for missing regions, sectors, and higher-end climate change projections; 3. the scaling and mapping of impacts against a range of develop- ment pathways; 4. the impacts of extreme and non-extreme weather events; 5. clarification of near-term inflection points for benefits versus damages; 6. evaluation of interaction between climate impacts and sustainable development; 7. evaluation of impacts of multiple stresses from climate and non- climate variables (or “threat multipliers”); 8. assessment of adaptation costs; and 9. assessment of capacities, limits, and barriers to adaptation. The IPCC Process The process of developing a structure for what will be the fifth IPCC assessment is beginning. Some governments express a desire for a faster process and propose more rapid special reports. Parry noted, however, that such processes would have less capacity to establish broad consensus. The IPCC does not provide a venue in which to consider relation- ships or gaps across working groups. Working Group II is larger than the others, and the amount of information it must integrate is increasing dramatically. Some people have proposed splitting it into two groups, impacts and adaptation. Others have proposed producing regional and sectoral reports or report sections. The additional research needed to fill gaps on important vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation issues requires new funding, organizational structures, and capacity building. RICHARD MOSS Richard Moss suggested that integrated scenario development is one way to facilitate interactions across IPCC working groups and broader research communities. Presently, new scenarios for analysis of emissions, impacts, and responses are being developed not by IPCC but by related research groups, although IPCC could produce special reports or techni- cal papers. Climate modelers are developing new integrated scenarios through the World Climate Research Program (WCRP), International Geosphere-Biosphere Program (IGBP), and a Working Group on Cou- pled Models (WGCM). Such self-organization facilitates model compari-

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 PRESENTATIONS sons and the selection of scenarios for further work. Similarly, integrated assessment modelers have established the Integrated Assessment Model- ing Consortium (IAMC) to meet the need for research coordination. Some researchers in the vulnerability, impact and assessment community are involved in new scenario development, but more formal self-organization could stimulate broader and more systematic involvement. Scenarios are now being developed for short-term time periods, to about 2035, and for long-term time periods to 2100 (and in a more styl- ized way to 2300). The two time scales have different implications for policy, decision making, climate system responses, and model projection capabilities, with near-term scenarios being more useful for adaptation purposes. Moss also described a recent innovation in the timing and logic of inte- grated climate change scenario building, moving from sequential to paral- lel modeling efforts. The standard linear approach starts with socioeco- nomic variables and the production of emissions scenarios, then models greenhouse gas concentrations, then models climate outcomes (including surface temperatures), and lastly analyzes impacts and adaptation. The new parallel process starts from four representative levels or pathways of greenhouse gas concentrations, simultaneously develops corresponding climate outcomes and emissions/socioeconomic scenarios, and then links both the climate projections and the emissions/socioeconomic scenarios in analyses of impacts, adaptation, vulnerability, and mitigation. This parallel modeling innovation permits a number of socioeconomic futures to be associated with each representative greenhouse gas concentration pathway. It may also speed up the production of integrated scenarios. The four representative concentration pathways are not intended to be policy prescriptive, but provide minimal climatic information to sup- port the broader exploration of socioeconomic dimensions. As the risks posed by higher pathways become more widely understood, public inter- est in lower pathways may increase. Other outstanding research issues include standardization of land use/land cover data, uncertainties around the re-scaling of climatic variables across scenarios, and the breakdown of socioeconomic information when modeling out to 2300. A key component of the new scenario process is the construction of narrative storylines. These are intended to be detailed descriptions of assumptions associated with representative concentration pathways, and are to be developed at the global scale, then used as guidelines for regional and smaller scale storylines relevant to people working on adap- tation and impacts. The IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) is considering how to provide guidelines and material to people working at small scales, to encourage the development of scenarios that will fulfill local assessment needs, and

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 NEW DIRECTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE also embed into the development of larger storylines or pathways. This will require funding and further thinking, but ultimately the completed integrated assessment modeling and vulnerability, impacts, and adapta- tion work can be synthesized into a set of integrated scenarios, which can then undergo IPCC peer review and publication. Fully integrated scenario development may require increased self- organization of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation researchers to coordinate a common set of assumptions and inputs, and to effectively represent their research perspectives. Agreement on some specified time slices for the analyses would produce a body of literature with common assumptions. This can increase research relevance and efficiency, permit- ting easier communication, transfer, and comparisons across research communities. LINDA MEARNS Speaking as a lead author for the IPCC reports of both Working Groups I (physical science) and II (impacts, adaptation, and vulnerabil- ity), Linda Mearns said that the gap between the two is too big. Both top- down and bottom-up approaches to policy-relevant adaptation research are needed. Top-down approaches start with global development, then model through emissions, climate change, regionalized impacts, and physical vulnerabilities. Bottom-up approaches start with multiple indi- cators, including economic resources, information, technology, infrastruc- ture, institutions, and equity, then model through adaptive capacity and social vulnerabilities. Relationships between earth system models and adaptation models continue to evolve. There is a growing need for adaptation studies at U.S. government agencies. Higher resolution scenarios enable mediation between top-down and bottom-up approaches, and the incorporation of impacts from multiple stressors. Goals for incorporating human dimen- sions into earth system models are unclear. A completely coupled model, including all human feedbacks as both climate drivers and responders, would represent a determinate system and seems unrealistic. Coupled models may help to explore vulnerability, adaptation, and mitigation policy options, but they also raise questions about what spatial and tem- poral scales must be represented for what purposes. Scenarios must, by definition, be internally consistent. They are limited in their ability to reflect changes in human behavior, such as mitigation. GARy yOHE Gary Yohe noted that the fourth IPCC assessment report anticipates broad physical impacts on water, ecosystems, food, coastlines, and human

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 PRESENTATIONS health, at specified ranges of global mean temperature increase. Rela- tionships between greenhouse gas concentrations and temperatures are uncertain, however, and it is virtually certain that precise associations will never be known. Similarly, social dimensions of vulnerability compli- cate adaptation planning. Aggregate cost-benefit analyses, such as those offering estimates of the social cost of carbon, are dangerous because they conceal the range of vulnerabilities across space and time; they do not incorporate many of the diverse ways in which climate impacts are revealed; and they cannot account for variations born of social and natu- ral scientific uncertainties. These uncertainties are increased by missing information on both physical predictions and valuation (including market and nonmarket valuations, but especially large-scale social transforma- tions that may occur). That missing information will be easier to develop if criteria are established for the key vulnerabilities of interest. The fourth assessment report of the IPCC, in language that was unani- mously approved by governments, adopts a risk management approach, in which risk is a product of the probability that an event will occur and the magnitude of consequences or impacts. This approach helps to elevate the importance of considering not only high probability climate- related events, but also those that have lower probability, but serious consequences. Risk profiles can organize multiple metrics across multiple scales. The IPCC assessment report also highlights the need for an itera- tive and evolving portfolio of mitigation and adaptation actions in which decisions are less about how to write perfect climate policy for decades to come and more about how to minimize adjustment costs as future challenges become clearer. Development path dependence also becomes a central factor. Cost-benefit frameworks cannot be dismissed entirely, but they must be complemented by risk frameworks and social frameworks that account for multiple impacts and inequalities. ROGER PuLWARTy Roger Pulwarty commented that IPCC Working Group II found adap- tation to climate change to be taking place already, but on a limited basis, and seldom in response to climate change alone. Many adaptations can be implemented at low cost, but there are no comprehensive estimates of adaptation costs and benefits. Furthermore, adaptive capacity is uneven across and within societies, and different rates of climate change may yield different response curves and vulnerabilities. The climate services approach suggests that research is necessary to support adaptation. There is now some evidence of feedback effects at climate extremes, and the models incorporate population, affluence, resources, and technology; however, information about culture, commu- nication, context, and capacity variables is missing. Researchers in the

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0 NEW DIRECTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE field of vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation need to work with decision making groups to identify the important research questions, not just com- municate scientific information and assume it will reach the proper audi- ences. Pulwarty reminded workshop participants that the track record of adaptive management experiments is poor. Most models fail, some implementations fail, and there have been only a few successes. Priorities for human dimensions research have recently been identified:1 1. understanding climate change vulnerabilities: human development scenarios for potentially affected regions, populations, and sectors; 2. understanding mitigation potential: driving forces, capacity for change, and possible limits of change; 3. understanding adaptation contexts, capacities for change, and pos- sible limits of change; 4. understanding how mitigation and adaptation combine in deter- mining human system risks, vulnerabilities, and response challenges associated with climate change; 5. understanding decision support needs for climate change responses and how to meet them; and 6. constraints on applying our understanding. Several characteristics about behavior and change are important to keep in mind. Humans do not necessarily change their behavior when they reach thresholds. It can be important to understand buffers, non- linearities, and multiple stresses at multiple scales. Resilience requires some balance between coordination and decentralization, including cross- scalar and cross-jurisdictional issues, stakeholder involvement to reach multiple objectives, and integration of mitigation and adaptation. There are barriers and paradoxes to adaptation—temporal, physical, techno- logical, financial, informational, cognitive, social, and cultural. For some mitigation scenarios, adaptation may be inadequate. Even with planning, actions occur after focusing events. The cumulative reduction of smaller- scale risks may increase vulnerability to large events. Communities may or may not understand their risk or see themselves as able to reduce risk. Even climate baselines may change, including decadal scale variabil- 1 PaulC. Stern and Thomas J. Wilbanks. (2009). Fundamental research priorities to improve the understanding of human dimensions of climate change. Appendix D in Restructuring Federal Climate Research to Meet the Challenges of Climate Change, Committee on Strategic Advice to the U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Division of Earth and Life Sciences, National Research Council. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press.

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 PRESENTATIONS ity. Short-term adjustments in development pathways may constrain or enable long-term adaptation. Although there are numerous programs and activities to reduce climate-related risks and increase resilience at regional, national, and local scales, few climate change adaptation initiatives have been evaluated, and evaluation criteria have not been established, so the effectiveness in reducing vulnerability to the range of climate projections is unknown. Better understanding could facilitate learning across countries, such as comparisons of costs and benefits, and ways to overcome constraints. Results could be integrated into national and regional plans for devel- opment, land use, water use, and diffusion efforts. Climate adaptation may synergize with, or require tradeoffs with, other development priori- ties. Climate services might help to provide anticipatory coordination as well as anticipatory technology as a way of improving self-organization. Research is scant on economic and social costs and benefits of adaptation measures involving ecosystem protection, health interventions, and land use. Particular adaptations might have broader implications for economic growth and employment. There are significant outstanding research challenges in understand- ing the processes by which adaptation is occurring and will occur in the future and in identifying areas for leverage and action. Risk assessment, planning, and management need to be integrated, including national, regional, and community profiles. A given approach is often implemented piecemeal, but then abandoned with a conclusion that the entire para- digm does not work. Early warning systems are needed for extreme cli- mate changes. Evaluation needs to follow analytic-deliberative processes to indicate decision quality. Researchers are generally urged to include stakeholders often and early, but this may or may not be the best use of resources, especially if participatory processes are not well designed. NEIL LEARy Neil Leary reported that the mission of the Global Change System for Analysis, Research, and Training (START) is to promote research in developing countries on global environmental change and to link science to decision making for sustainable development. START has ten regional research centers, nodes, and secretariats, including four in Africa, four in Asia, one in the South Pacific, and one in North America. It is funded by several national governments, international organizations, and private foundations. START-supported assessments of impacts and adaptation to climate change (AIACC) have produced 24 regional or national assess- ments, more than 100 peer-reviewed publications, more than 100 citations

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 NEW DIRECTIONS IN CLIMATE CHANGE in the fourth IPCC assessment report, and numerous networking and training opportunities. Emerging international priorities for regional climate-related research include needs in two broad areas: 1. Target decision making needs and decision support, particularly adaptation and risk management decisions. Focus on vulnerability and risk assessment approaches. This work will require information that is temporally, spatially, and sectorally specific. a. Engage stakeholders, through participatory approaches. b. Work across multiple temporal scales. Current and near-term hazards have greater salience than longer-term ones, but the latter are also important because of inertia and irreversibilities. 2. Address growing demands for information (not just on climate) at fine and nested spatial scales that challenge the state of science; and address cross-scale interactions. a. Link to development, sustainability, poverty, equity, and livelihoods. b. Address uncertainty. In developing countries, there are numerous barriers to regional global environmental change research, including the following: • inadequate government funding for science; • project-based funding by assistance agencies with constantly shift- ing priorities and no sustained program support; • too few scientists, heavy teaching demands for those in academia, and “brain drain” to other countries; • few “global change” scientists, due to — few interdisciplinary programs to educate new global change scientists, and — no career path for global change scientists (though this may be changing); • dissonance in frameworks and methods; • poor information technology infrastructure, library resources, and physical infrastructure; • social, economic, and institutional instabilities; and

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 PRESENTATIONS • limited data availability, access, and capacity to use climate information. There are at least three specific concerns in relation to the future of the IPCC: 1. inadequacy of research on regional aspects of climate change, par- ticularly in developing country regions, though an initiative similar to AIACC could help fill gaps; 2. identifying appropriate roles and actions of IPCC and the U.S. research community; and 3. demands of climate response research may exceed the capacities of existing global programs (the International Geosphere-Biosphere Pro- gramme [IGBP], the International Human Dimensions Programme on Global Environmental Change [IHDP], and the World Climate Research Programme [WCRP], Diversitas).