23 February 2009

An atlas of climate impacts and adaptation priorities

The University of Copenhagen hosts The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change on 10-12 March in Copenhagen. This is the third in a row of climate research stories that will be released up to and presented at the conference.

Ever wondered where climate change might hit hardest? Where people are most vulnerable to changed rainfall patterns, rising seas, droughts or a combination of these and possibly more of the detrimental effects of climate change?

As the number of analyses of the impacts of climate change grow, it can get increasingly difficult to get an overview of where the effects are most severe and thus where efforts to adapt to the new conditions of a changing climate should be focused and coordinated.

A new tool aims to clarify the picture. The Global Adaptation Atlas is an online mapping tool being developed to highlight confluences of climate impacts and adaptation investments. The aim of the Atlas is to illustrate where climate change could have the greatest number of damaging effects and show if and where adaptation projects align with expected impacts over time. By gathering and filtering diverse climate science and adaptation funding data and presenting them as compatible map layers in a single graphic framework, the Atlas will provide a way to visualize gaps and overlaps that otherwise will be hard to piece together.

“The Atlas can help better convey the impacts of climate change and target related investments and policy interventions around the world”, says Shalini Vajjhala, PhD and Fellow at Resources for the Future (RFF), a nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in Washington, D.C. that conducts independent research on environmental, energy, and natural resource issues.

Researchers from RFF are working on the development of the Atlas throughout 2009. The aim is to have a fully functional prototype ready for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP15) in Copenhagen in December, where politicians will try to reach a new global deal on combating climate change. But an overview of the science and policy underpinnings of the Atlas will be presented at the IARU International Scientific Congress on Climate Change, taking place in Copenhagen 10 – 12 March.

The congress will gather thousands of the world’s climate researchers to deliver an update on our knowledge on climate change and how to handle the risks and opportunities that come from it. The results will be presented to the world leaders as they gather later this year in Copenhagen to discuss a new global deal on how to fight climate change at the U.N. Climate Change Conference - COP15.

The International Scientific Congress on Climate Change is taking place in Copenhagen 10 – 12 March. It is organized by International Alliance of Research Universities (IARU): Australian National University; ETH Zürich; National University of Singapore; Peking University; University of California, Berkeley; University of Cambridge; University of Copenhagen; University of Oxford; University of Tokyo; Yale University.