A review of climate risk information for adaptation and development planning
Wilby, R.L., Troni, J., Biot, Y., Tedd, L., Hewitson, B.C., Smith, D.M. and Sutton, R. (2009) A review of climate risk information for adaptation and development planning. International Journal of Climatology, 29 (9). pp. 1193-1215. ISSN 0899-8418
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To link to this article DOI: 10.1002/joc.1839
Although the use of climate scenarios for impact assessment has grown steadily since the 1990s, uptake of such information for adaptation is lagging by nearly a decade in terms of scientific output. Nonetheless, integration of climate risk information in development planning is now a priority for donor agencies because of the need to prepare for climate change impacts across different sectors and countries. This urgency stems from concerns that progress made against Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) could be threatened by anthropogenic climate change beyond 2015. Up to this time the human signal, though detectable and growing, will be a relatively small component of climate variability and change. This implies the need for a twin-track approach: on the one hand, vulnerability assessments of social and economic strategies for coping with present climate extremes and variability, and, on the other hand, development of climate forecast tools and scenarios to evaluate sector-specific, incremental changes in risk over the next few decades. This review starts by describing the climate outlook for the next couple of decades and the implications for adaptation assessments. We then review ways in which climate risk information is already being used in adaptation assessments and evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of three groups of techniques. Next we identify knowledge gaps and opportunities for improving the production and uptake of climate risk information for the 2020s. We assert that climate change scenarios can meet some, but not all, of the needs of adaptation planning. Even then, the choice of scenario technique must be matched to the intended application, taking into account local constraints of time, resources, human capacity and supporting infrastructure. We also show that much greater attention should be given to improving and critiquing models used for climate impact assessment, as standard practice. Finally, we highlight the over-arching need for the scientific community to provide more information and guidance on adapting to the risks of climate variability and change over nearer time horizons (i.e. the 2020s). Although the focus of the review is on information provision and uptake in developing regions, it is clear that many developed countries are facing the same challenges. Copyright © 2009 Royal Meteorological Society
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