Informing Adaptation Decisions: What Do We Need to Know and What Do We Need to Do?

Friday, 19 December 2014: 12:05 PM
Roger S Pulwarty, NOAA, Boulder, CO, United States and Robert Stabler Webb, NOAA/OAR/ESRL, Boulder, CO, United States
The demand for improved climate knowledge and information is well documented. As noted in the IPCC Reports (SREX, AR5) and other assessments, this demand has increased pressure for better information to support planning under changing rates of extremes event occurrence. This demand has focused on mechanisms used to respond to past variability and change, including, integrated resource management (watersheds, coasts), infrastructure design, information systems, technological optimization, financial risk management, and behavioral and institutional change. Climate inputs range from static site design statistics (return periods) to dynamic, emergent thresholds and transitions preceded by steep response curves and punctuated equilibria. Tradeoffs are evident in the use of risk-based anticipatory strategies vs. resilience measures. In such settings, annual decision calendars for operational requirements can confound adaptation expectations. Key knowledge assessment questions include: (1) How predictable are potential impacts of events in the context of other stressors, (2) how is action to anticipate such impacts informed, and (3) How often should criteria for “robustness” be reconsidered? To illustrate, we will discuss the climate information needs and uses for two areas of concern for both short and long-term risks (i) climate and disaster risk financing, and (ii) watershed management. The presentation will focus on the climate information needed for (1) improved monitoring, modeling and methods for understanding and analyzing exposure risks, (2) generating risk profiles, (3) developing information systems and scenarios for critical thresholds across climate time and space scales, (4) embedding annual decision calendars in the context of longer-term risk management, (5) gaming experiments to show the net benefits of new information. We will conclude with a discussion of the essential climate variables needed to implement services-delivery and development efforts such as the Global Framework for Climate Services and the Pilot Program on Climate Resilience.