National Academies Press: OpenBook

Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (2010)

Chapter: Appendix B: Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Statement of Task

« Previous: Appendix A: America's Climate Choices: Membership Lists
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2010. Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12783.
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Page 255
Suggested Citation:"Appendix B: Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Statement of Task." National Research Council. 2010. Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/12783.
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Page 256

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APPENDIX B Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Statement of Task T he Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change will describe, analyze, and assess actions and strategies to reduce vulnerability, increase adaptive ca- pacity, improve resiliency, and promote successful adaptation to climate change in different regions, sectors, systems, and populations. The panel will draw on existing reports and assessments and use case studies to identify lessons learned from past experiences, promising current approaches, and potential new directions. The issues and examples considered by the panel should be drawn from a variety of regions and sectors, focusing on domestic actions but also considering international dimensions, and should cover a range of temporal and spatial scales. The panel will be challenged to produce a report that is broad and authoritative, yet concise and useful to decision makers. The costs, benefits, limitations, tradeoffs, and uncertainties associated with different options and strategies should be assessed qualitatively and, to the extent practicable, quantitatively, using the scenarios of future climate change and vulnerability provided by the Climate Change Study Committee. The panel should also provide policy-relevant (but not policy-prescriptive) input to the committee on the following overarching questions: • What short-term actions can be taken to adapt effectively to climate change? • What promising long-term strategies, investments, and opportunities could be pursued to adapt to climate change? • What are the major scientific and technological advances (e.g., new observa- tions, improved models, research priorities, etc.) needed to promote effective adaptation to climate change? • What are the major impediments (e.g., practical, institutional, economic, ethi- cal, intergenerational, etc.) to effective adaptation to climate change, and what can be done to overcome these impediments? • What can be done to adapt to climate change at different levels (e.g., local, state, regional, national, and in collaboration with the international commu- nity) and in different sectors (e.g., nongovernmental organizations, the busi- ness community, the research and academic communities, individuals and households, etc.)? 

Next: Appendix C: Panel on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change: Biographical Sketches »
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Across the United States, impacts of climate change are already evident. Heat waves have become more frequent and intense, cold extremes have become less frequent, and patterns of rainfall are likely changing. The proportion of precipitation that falls as rain rather than snow has increased across the western United States and Arctic sea ice has been reduced significantly. Sea level has been rising faster than at any time in recent history, threatening the natural and built environments on the coasts. Even if emissions of greenhouse gases were substantially reduced now, climate change and its resulting impacts would continue for some time to come.

To date, decisions related to the management and protection of the nation's people, resources, and infrastructure have been based on records in the recent past, when climate was relatively stable. Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change, part of the congressionally requested America's Climate Choices suite of studies, calls for a new paradigm-one that considers a range of possible future climate conditions and impacts that may be well outside the realm of past experience.

Adaptation requires actions from many decision makers in federal, state, tribal, and local governments; the private sector; non-governmental organizations; and community groups. However, current efforts are hampered by a lack of solid information about the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of various adaptation options; climate information on regional and local scales; and a lack of coordination. Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change calls for a national adaptation strategy that provides needed technical and scientific resources, incentives to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, shared lessons learned, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.

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