by providing current and policy-relevant information on the impacts of various global change scenarios at regional scales;
by contributing to assessments that integrate a range of scientific data and models with information on social impacts, vulnerabilities, and adaptations and their interaction with mitigation efforts;
by providing insights into the ways in which (seemingly unrelated) policy decisions and societal conditions are changing the vulnerability of human systems to global change;
by improving the ability to assess the societal impacts of interannual climate variability (such as El Niño) and the likely effect of improved forecasts and other responses; and
by providing feedback to the modeling community as to the most appropriate and urgent data outputs (variables, time and space scales) for assessing the human impacts of global change.
This research priority is timely because of its potential contribution to the USGCRP's increasing emphasis on consequences, sustainability, and integrated assessment. There is a considerable community of researchers with experience in assessing the impacts of climate change. This community can be supported in work to improve methods, datasets, and models that can use the results of new generations of climate models (both general circulation and mesoscale).
Research on impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation to global changes can yield:
improved and more regionally detailed assessments of the impact of climate change on socioeconomic and ecological systems using the most recent results of general circulation climate models, mesoscale models for global warming, and information on the characteristics of interannual climate variability;
vulnerability assessments of the ability of resource and human systems such as forestry, agriculture, cities, and industry to anticipate and respond to global changes (taking into account the ways in which major nonenvironmental changes such as population growth, institutional and economic transformations, and technical developments are altering the vulnerabilities of individuals, communities, and regions to environmental change and variation); and
improved information for valuing the consequences of global change, incorporating estimates of uncertainty in decision processes and providing key transfer functions (e.g., the relationship between temperatures and health or water resources) for economic and social impact assessments.