Eos, Transactions American Geophysical Union

An alternate approach to assessing climate risks



U.S. federal agencies are now required to review the potential impacts of climate change on their assets and missions. Similar arrangements are also in place in the United Kingdom under reporting powers for key infrastructure providers (http://www.defra.gov.uk/environment/climate/sectors/reporting-authorities/reporting-authorities-reports/). These requirements reflect growing concern about climate resilience and the management of long-lived assets. At one level, analyzing climate risks is a matter of due diligence, given mounting scientific evidence. However, there is no consensus about the means for doing so nor about whether climate models are even ft for the purpose; in addition, several important issues are often overlooked when incorporating climate information into adaptation decisions. An alternative to the scenarioled strategy, such as an approach based on a vulnerability analysis (“stress test”), may identify practical options for resource managers.


The authors thank Ke Li for creating the figures. We acknowledge the modeling groups, the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison (PCMDI), and the World Climate Research Programme's (WCRP) Working Group on Coupled Modeling (WGCM) for its roles in making available the WCRP CMIP3 multimodel data set. Support of this data set is provided by the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science.