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 April 10, 2007
Summary of IPCC Adaptation Report

 Brussels, Belgium RUSSELS (GLOBE-Net) - The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has released its latest report. The document from IPCC Working Group II assesses the latest scientific, environmental and socio-economic literature on "Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability".

It provides a comprehensive analysis of how climate change is affecting natural and human systems, what the impacts will be in the future and how far adaptation and mitigation can reduce these impacts. The report also contains chapters on specific systems, sectors and regions.

The full report will be available on the IPCC website shortly. For now, a 23-page Summary for Policy Makers sets out the key policy-relevant findings.

Based on the scientific findings of the IPCC Working Group I report, the Adaptation and Impacts report reveals a number of predictions for how warming temperatures will impact those around the world.

Among the findings:

Fresh water resources

  • By mid-century, annual average river runoff and water availability are projected to increase by 10-40% at high latitudes and in some wet tropical areas, and decrease by 10-30% over some dry regions at mid-latitudes and in the dry tropics, some of which are presently water stressed areas.

  • Drought-affected areas will likely increase in extent. Heavy precipitation events, which are very likely to increase in frequency, will augment flood risk.

  • Water supplies stored in glaciers and snow cover are projected to decline, reducing water availability in regions supplied by meltwater from major mountain ranges, where more than one-sixth of the world population currently lives.

Ecosystems

  • The resilience of many ecosystems is likely to be exceeded this century by an unprecedented combination of climate change, associated disturbances (e.g., flooding, drought, wildfire, insects, ocean acidification), and other global change drivers (e.g., land use change, pollution, over-exploitation of resources).

  • Approximately 20-30% of plant and animal species assessed so far are likely to be at increased risk of extinction if increases in global average temperature exceed 1.5-2.5 degrees C.

Food and Forest products

  • Crop productivity is projected to increase slightly at mid to high latitudes for local mean temperature increases of up to 1-3C depending on the crop, and then decrease beyond that in some regions.

  • Increases in the frequency of droughts and floods are projected to affect local production negatively, especially in subsistence sectors at low latitudes.

  • Globally, commercial timber productivity rises modestly with climate change in the short- to medium-term, with large regional variability around the global trend.

  • Regional changes in the distribution and production of particular fish species are expected due to continued warming, with adverse effects projected for aquaculture and fisheries.

Coastal systems and low-lying areas

  • Coasts are projected to be exposed to increasing risks, including coastal erosion, due to climate change and sea-level rise and the effect will be exacerbated by increasing human-induced pressures on coastal areas.

  • Many millions more people are projected to be flooded every year due to sea-level rise by the 2080s. Those densely-populated and low-lying areas where adaptive capacity is relatively low, and which already face other challenges such as tropical storms or local coastal subsidence, are especially at risk. The numbers affected will be largest in the mega-deltas of Asia and Africa while small islands are especially vulnerable.

Industry, Settlement and Society

  • Costs and benefits of climate change for industry, settlement, and society will vary widely by location and scale. In the aggregate, however, net effects will tend to be more negative the larger the change in climate.

  • The most vulnerable industries, settlements and societies are generally those in coastal and river flood plains, those whose economies are closely linked with climate-sensitive resources, and those in areas prone to extreme weather events, especially where rapid urbanisation is occurring.

  • Where extreme weather events become more intense and/or more frequent, the economic and social costs of those events will increase, and these increases will be substantial in the areas most directly affected.

Specific predictions for North America and the Polar regions include:

  • Moderate climate change in the early decades of the century is projected to increase aggregate yields of rainfed agriculture by 5-20%, but with important variability among regions. Major challenges are projected for crops that are near the warm end of their suitable range or depend on highly utilised water resources.

  • Warming in western mountains is projected to cause decreased snowpack, more winter flooding, and reduced summer flows, exacerbating competition for over-allocated water resources.

  • Disturbances from pests, diseases, and fire are projected to have increasing impacts on forests, with an extended period of high fire risk and large increases in area burned.

  • Cities that currently experience heat waves are expected to be further challenged by an increased number, intensity and duration of heat waves during the course of the century, with potential for adverse health impacts. The growing number of the elderly population is most at risk.

  • Coastal communities and habitats will be increasingly stressed by climate change impacts interacting with development and pollution. Population growth and the rising value of infrastructure in coastal areas increase vulnerability to climate variability and future climate change, with losses projected to increase if the intensity of tropical storms increases. Current adaptation is uneven and readiness for increased exposure is low.

  • In the Arctic, additional impacts include reductions in the extent of sea ice and permafrost, increased coastal erosion, and an increase in the depth of permafrost seasonal thawing.

Download the full Summary for Policy Makers here (PDF - 547 KB).



For More Information: Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change