Global Change Impacts and Adaptation

Climate, land use, ecosystems, infrastructure, and human societies are all being transformed simultaneously. Ongoing research has developed a basic understanding of the potential consequences of these concurrent changes, but important uncertainties persist, especially at geographical and time scales relevant to adoption and use of options for limiting impacts and seizing opportunities. A new generation of integrated tools is needed to provide quality-controlled, usable information for near-term decisions with long-term implications. Researchers at JGCRI are developing and joining stakeholder research methods, new quantitative models, decision-oriented uncertainty characterization, and analysis of institutional, economic, and other factors needed to meet this challenge. Our research focuses on such questions as:

  • What are the potential effects on the U.S. and global economies of climate change interacting with other environmental and socioeconomic stresses?
  • In what way will climate change impacts be distributed across sectors of the economy and regions of the nation and globe?
  • How might different greenhouse gas mitigation policies and targets change the impacts, damages, and risks from a changing climate?
  • Will the impacts from climate change alter the effectiveness of different mitigation policies?
  • What types of adaptation strategies will be most effective from different perspectives? What level of adaptation will be needed?
  • How can information from observations and models provide insight for decision makers?

 Scientists at JGCRI are actively exploring these questions through a range of methodologies from sector-specific impact models to integrated assessment models and beyond. There are many new and on-going projects that study multiple aspects of climate change impacts, including agriculture, water, energy demand and renewable energy resource availability, conflict, and human health.

 Adaptation to climate change involves adjustments in response to actual or expected climate events or their effects, to moderate harm, or exploit beneficial opportunities and is one of two broad strategies for managing climate risks. As the effects of global change accelerate and are experienced more broadly, adaptation will be required in virtually all sectors of the economy and regions of the globe. Adaptation will require engineering innovations as well as a diverse range of adjustments to management, human behavior, and public policy. This is why JGCRI’s approach to research on global change impacts, vulnerability, and resilience integrates a wide range of capabilities and approaches, including: 

  • Quantitative modeling of impacts to agriculture, water resources, energy systems, land use, and other systems;
  • Vulnerability assessments of infrastructure, installations, and systems;
  • Research into indicators of vulnerability and resilience that integrate climate, socioeconomic, and environmental factors;
  • Integration of descriptive research on decision making processes and decision analytic modeling;
  • Engineering and other technical analyses;
  • Scenario analysis and other approaches to identify and communicate potential adaptation strategies under a range of future conditions; and
  • Research on national security implications of global change including the potential for climate change impacts to lead to conflict.

JGCRI scientists have produced numerous publications and reports and contributed to national and international assessments, including the US National Climate Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, and others. 

Key Staff: Richard Moss, Stephanie Waldhoff, Kate Calvin, Allison Thomson, Yuyu Zhou

 Selected Publications

Rice JS, RH Moss, PJ Runci, KL Anderson, and EL Malone.  2012.  “Incorporating Stakeholder Decision Support Needs into an Integrated Regional Earth System Model .”  Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change 17(7):805-819.  doi:10.1007/s11027-011-9345-3

Moss RH, and MA Lane.  2012.  “Decisionmaking, Transitions, and Resilient Futures.”  Issues in Science and Technology 28(4):31-34

Moss RH, EL Malone, and A de Bremond.  2013.  “Towards a resilience framework for making climate-change adaptation decisions.”  Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change.  [In Press] 

Calvin KV, MA Wise, LE Clarke, JA Edmonds, GP Kyle, PW Luckow, and AM Thomson.  2013.  “Implications of simultaneously mitigating and adapting to climate change: Initial experiments using GCAM.”  Climatic Change 117(3):545-560.  doi:10.1007/s10584-012-0650-y

Hejazi MI, JA Edmonds, LE Clarke, GP Kyle, E Davies, V Chaturvedi, MA Wise, PL Patel, J Eom, and KV Calvin.  2013.  “Integrated assessment of global water scarcity over the 21st century: 1- Global water supply and demand under extreme radiative forcing.”  Hydrology and Earth System Sciences.  [In Press] 

Zhou Y, J Eom, and LE Clarke.  2013.  “The effect of climate change, population distribution, and climate mitigation on building energy use in the U.S. and China.”  Climatic Change 119(3-4):979-992.  doi:10.1007/s10584-013-0772-x

Moss, R.H. Jae A. Edmonds, Kathy Hibbard, Martin Manning, Steven K. Rose, Detlef P. van Vuuren, Timothy R. Carter, Seita Emori, Mikiko Kainuma, Tom Kram, Gerald Meehl, John Mitchell, Nebojsa Nakicenovic, Keywan Riahi, Steven J. Smith, Ronald J. Stouffer, Allison Thomson, John Weyant, and Tom Wilbanks, 2010. “The Next Generation of Climate Scenarios.” Nature Vol 463 11 February 2010 doi:10.1038/nature08823.

Malone EL, AL Brenkert. 2009. “Vulnerability, Sensitivity, and Coping/Adaptive Capacity Worldwide.” Edward Elgar Publishing, Northhampton, MA

Chavas DR, RC Izaurralde, AM Thomson, X Gao.  2008. Long-term climate change impacts on agricultural productivity in eastern China. Agricultural and Forest Meteorology 149(6-7):1118–1128

Thomson, AM, RC Izaurralde, NJ Rosenberg X He. 2006. Climate change impacts on agriculture and soil carbon sequestration potential in the Huang-Hai Plain of China. Agriculture, Ecosystems and Environment 114(2-4)