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Participants Responses to Question 3

3) What issues and/or research questions would you like to see addressed at the workshop?


Climate variability should be viewed as an opportunity to prepare for climate change. Climate variability and climate change are part of the same continuum of issues and should not be treated as distinct and separate issues in developing methods for adaptation. The short timeframe in extreme climate events and ongoing variability provides ample opportunity for developing informed, iterative processes that respond to lessons learned and can be applied and adapted in new contexts. Science and technology are constantly improving our ability to find solutions to problems, but it will be important to incorporate ideas from other fields and disciplines. Gradual behavioral changes now may have far greater implications in the future, and it is important not to discount historical and current lessons from climate variability in our pursuit to develop adaptation strategies for climate change. --- All this to say that the issues described in the information outlines for this workshop and for the background papers are all important in establishing an ongoing process and dialogue for adaptation to climate change.



How could strength and weakness of adaptations of historically observed extreme climate events on society could be applied to manage climate risks of various time scales.

Is there any rational to keep distinction between climate change and climate variability in so far adaptation issues are concerned.



Climate variability and resources management.



How can we use the lessons learned in past and on-going research on climate variability to develop the “next generation” research program on adaptation to climate change.

How can we establish networks that operationally connect research projects and set up international, cross-disciplinary teams, to convert the knowledge being gained in climatic processes into improved and feasible socio-economic options.


  • How good climate forecast technology is?
  • How to develop effective and efficient tools for economic valuation of climate (forecast) information?
  • How to develop effective ways of communicating climate (forecast) information to end-users (farmers)?
  • How to strengthen link between science and policy?
  • How to assess future climate risk?




<<<CONTRIBUTION OF EVERY COMMUNITY to the World Climate Watch>>



Development of highly localized forecasts (countries with limited resources cannot cope with voluminous information from GCMs)
Further studies on the vulnerabilities and adaptation strategies on different socio-economic sectors on climate change/variability



How can the wealth of experience gained from managing variability become a foundation for climate change adaptation and the institutions involved and their become a foundation upon which to build for promoting adaptation?



How can the different state level action best be coordinated with national research and planning efforts? How can the different states effectively provide input into the national research effort on climate change and variability? What is the most efficient and scientifically sound way to generate seasonal and decadal regional probabilistic climate projections at enough temporal and geographical disaggregation for the development of adaptation strategies?



What are some of the generalizations we have learned from small scale societies and those which have the technology, institutions and knowledge to mitigate climate variability.



It would be interesting to see other quantitative studies of dealing with the use of actual systems and actual forecast information



I’ll share a few thoughts on water management, water planning, and linkages to climate uncertainty.

Considerable attention has been given in the RISAs to integrated research designed to bridge the gaps between various disciplines, information at different spatial scales, and different levels of governance. I think there has also been an awareness that integration across time is important in the context of planning for climate change, i.e. that there are functional linkages between understanding and planning for climate variability and the same goals in the context of global warming. Unfortunately, there remains a great deal of work to be done to bring these ideas to bear on actual management and planning problems.

A key point for me with regard to water management is that our current management institutions (“long-term” planning not withstanding) typically have very limited capacity for dealing with cyclical or cumulative changes in climate in the decision process. It is essential that we learn to incorporate these kinds of threats (and adaptive strategies for coping with them) in our thinking if we are to successfully reduce institutional vulnerabilities to climate change. Understanding and using climate variability more effectively in water planning may provide an analogue for incorporating climate uncertainty regarding climate change into water management and long term planning.

The use of observed climate variability as a stepping stone to climate change is functional in that it avoids (at least temporarily) some difficult questions regarding uncertainty that frequently make water managers uncomfortable. Water managers are very comfortable with the idea that “what did happen can happen”. The extension that is needed, however, is to use the past more effectively to evaluate the response capability of our water management systems to climate uncertainty. If an institution has not successfully adapted itself to the climate uncertainty of the past, it identifies an institutional weakness that may prevent effective future adaptation to climate change. Dealing with these weaknesses at an institutional level should improve resilience in the face of climate uncertainty, whatever the final outcome.

Another significant issue surrounds the design of adaptation strategies for climate change that do not require expensive, recursive policy interventions to fix problems associated with climate uncertainty. Flexible water management systems keyed to inter-annual climate forecasts or water markets (which can evolve over time), may increase adaptive capacity by reducing costs. These kinds of management systems are attractive because as the climate changes, the inputs to the management system (e.g. streamflow or demand forecasts, or the price of water in a market based allocation system) change, but the water management policy itself remains the same and does not need to be dealt with over and over again in the political or legal arenas.



How can we more effectively incorporate paleoclimatological and other pre-historical information into practical considerations of adapting to long-term climate variability and/or change?

How can we better frame issues related to climate variability and change, especially in terms of language and visualization, so that discussions about impacts and adaptation are more effective?

What infrastructure (both hardware and people) is needed to ensure effective monitoring, routine and exploratory analyses, and rapid research response to address the “surprises” likely to occur as a consequence of long-term climate variability and/or climate change?

What are the non-linear changes, threshold responses, and cascading effects that we can identify now as being relevant to adapting to long-term climate variability and/or climate change? What do we need to do to identify others not currently known?

What experiences related to shorter-term climate variability (both vulnerability and opportunities) can inform efforts to foster adaptation to longer-term climate variability and/or climate change?



· Topics in the Background Paper Guidelines look good. Also,
· Methods for downscaling climate forecasts to local areas
· Methods to evaluate skill of forecasts for applications, with indicators that are meaningful to non-climate scientists
· Linking forecasts with application tools at different scales



From my perspective, the greatest challenge in connecting climate research to on-the-ground applications is to better understand the "decision space" within which climate information can potentially be used. Much of the climate research currently produced is not readily usable to potential decision makers, a problem that will persist until researchers better understand the decision space associated with different resources and issues.



Is it possible to generalize about coping/adaptive responses or are they too situation-specific?

How do you foster the individual creativity that seems to be a characteristic of the dynamic coping response and is fundamental to humanity's inherent adaptability?

Are there situations where improving coping capacity might be inconsistent with facilitating adaptive response? For example, by concretizing responses so initiative and evolution is hampered.



Research on how climate information can help to improve livelihoods with particular emphasis to the rural livelihoods in developing countries.



How can quality-forecasting services (cyclones, ENSO) be made available to PICs?. What technological tools are available and can be made available to PICs to better deal with CV and CC. In terms of research, PICs need more fundamental research initiatives on the impacts and the associated vulnerabilities of CV on Agriculture, Health, Water and the Coastal zone. Such research initiatives can also provide data for the development of PICs appropriate models to predict CV and CC impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation options.



We need to build on lessons learnt from coping with CV. A systematic evaluation of management options that take existing CV into account can be easily adapted to evaluate systems performance for future CC scenarios. If we can handle CV, we can also cope with CC.

We should consider CC as a low frequency mode of CV, thereby considering all frequency domains that impact on systems performance. This might allow us to overcome the chasm that currently exists between policy development and climate risk management of agricultural systems due to differences in methodologies, temporal and spatial scales (informing the policy process largely occurs through the climate change community using GCMs; production risk management occurs through the climate variability community using statistical forecasts in conjunction with dynamic systems simulation models).

We need cross-disciplinary approaches to have an impact. We need to focus on the issue of risk management rather than on specific disciplines. Risk management has many dimensions requiring cross-disciplinary approaches to be effective. Climate is only one of these dimensions (albeit often with dominating consequences), but climate-related knowledge can result in choices that either reduce risks or improve returns. Conversely, there are times and locations when and where even the best knowledge of climatic conditions (past, present and future) will not alter anything. The ability to distinguish between these two situations and to take appropriate action based on knowledge separates good risk managers from the rest.

Climate scientists address issues pertaining to spatial variability largely by attempting to increase the spatial resolution of statistical or dynamic climate models. However, they tend to place greater emphasis on differentiating temporal scales (particularly the somewhat artificial divide between climate variability and climate change), rather than addressing spatial scale issues. Curiously, from an agricultural risk management perspective exactly the opposite applies: spatial variability can often more important than temporal variability when determining the most appropriate approach to risk management and decision making.

Within agriculture, we can benefit from emerging, globally coordinated, cross-disciplinary research networks that use a common methodology and research approaches to address locally relevant issues.



The agenda as constructed is adequate for the time available. Perhaps most emphasis should be placed on decision-making under uncertainty. If time is available, it would be useful to have discussions on two additional items: a). adaptation vs. the rate of change vis-à-vis integrated impacts; and b). how different regions are dealing with the problem of downscaling.



I would like to have a discussion of possible ways to assure a “safety net” of equity across vulnerable sectors and populations addressed. Discussion of the many issues associated with scale (spatial, temporal, societal) in carrying out stakeholder-inspired climate research would also be useful.



1. International collaboration for capacity building in the developing world in this field.
2. Applied research with a view to developing objective indicators that would guide users in application of predicted seasonal climate in specific zones for application in Health, Agriculture etc.



Vulnerability/impacts assessments; to improve/enhance capacity in the development of local/regional climate models relevant to regional climate change and development scenarios, down scaling of climate products for specific sector applications, capacity building, education, training and awareness; policy enhancement, especially disaster management and other relevant issues.



I think that we – the academic and policy community – make an artificial distinction between adaptation and sustainable development, and an artificial connection between adaptation and mitigation. I think that we do this mainly because of international funding mechanisms: there is a pot of money available for mitigation and adaptation, and so we think in terms of the optimal portfolio of these two, whereas in fact the portfolio we need top be thinking in terms of is sustainable development and adaptation. As a result of this, we tend to think about adaptation decision-making as taking place at something of the same scale as mitigation decision-making, whereas in fact it needs to take place at the same scale as sustainable development, which I believe is most often the micro-scale. I would thus like to see two questions addressed: (1) a better understanding and appreciation of the scale at which adaptation takes place, and (2) suggestions for changing the funding mechanisms that tend to push adaptation decision-making to different scales.



1) (see above) I would like to see the question of impacts of climate change on the skill of our seasonal prediction methods addressed, and a twist on same idea – what is the latest on whether or not we should expect stronger or more frequent El Ninos with global warming.
2) Perhaps some discussion of “climate-impact management” as a general theme- how do we integrate the two ideas (change and variability) into a consolidated subject for communications purposes? Or should we?



- Linking research results to operational users in an effective way
- Ways to provide an assessment of seasonal climate forecast skill that is meaningful to users
- Characterization/quantification of uncertainty in integrated modeling approaches
- Linkages between climate variability at different scales



1. How to further strengh the regional/subregional capacities the development of applications for relevant economic sectors and for risk managers.
2.Regional/subregional Climate Outlooks verification/validation techniques:How to apply them and how to use the numbers to increase confidence in users.

Research question:
Regional models with better resolution for Mesoamerica and the Caribbean.



I feel that forecasting provides the most important tool in intervention because it allows planners to respond. The degree of precision and accuracy required from these forecasts depends on the health or other risks considered. For example, in California it may be sufficient to know in October that there is an 80% chance of well above average snow pack to plan for mosquito control operations the following summer.


  • Which environmental and socioeconomic risks are the same for climate variability and climate change? Which ones are likely to be different?
  • Which adaptation strategies developed for climate variability also work for climate change? What new strategies might be needed for climate change?
  • Can we tell when climate variability has become climate change?



What follows is a selected list of some of the key issues associated with designing andimplementing a climate adaptation program focused on the development of the kind of climate-society partnerships described in the answer to Question 2:

  • The importance of documenting and sharing experiences in adaptation to climate variability as an explicit element of a long-term program – the Workshop itself is a significant step forward in this context;
  • Mechanisms for enhancing communication within individual adaptation teams in a given region or sector and among teams addressing similar problems;
  • Mechanisms for effectively identifying and engaging key partners and securing the resources (human and fiscal) required to maintain the necessary interaction/collaboration; one specific aspect of this involves the identification, engagement and support of trusted information brokers as critical partners in a climate information system;
  • Establishing a sustained partnership between climate research (physical and social) and operational communities in the development of useful and usable climate information system(s) based on clearer understanding of the information needs of decision-makers;
  • Exploring the role of climate-related extreme events and the use of the concept of “climate risk management” as a possible galvanizing focus/opportunity;
  • More effective mechanisms for engaging the private sector; and
  • The role of education, training and public outreach as explicit elements of an adaptation program.



The planned agenda is very thorough. I think the issue of decision-making under uncertainty is particularly important.



In the context of adaptation to climate change research, discussion of research strategies/methods to better simulate (1) the physical modeling uncertainty and (2) socio-economic-political forecasting uncertainty.



More projects on how climate information can be utilized within development projects to help improve rural livelihoods, especially in developing countries.


  • Despite the undeniable value of climatic information for adaptation, we do not observe as much change in real-life decision making as we would expect. What are the underlying forces posing obstacles to what we would call “rational use of information”?
  • What academic disciplines should have a more prominent role in research addressing the communication and use of climate knowledge? To what extent are the needs of the most vulnerable sectors of the population being incorporated into the policy and research agenda for adaptation to climate variability and change?



Improved seasonal climate forecasts

Dissemination and use of the forecasts.



Rainfall variability and plausible projections rainfall trends in the Caribbean.

Educating populations as to the potential of future environmental change which essentially influences access to food – greater access will be as a result of preparation for adapting to the change.



The theme of strengthening institutions to respond to change

Related are issues of local scale and local capacity to respond to change

Local knowledge and scientific knowledge in improving capabilities



Conduct scientific research on farmer’s methods of forecasting rainfall seasons. Integrate farmer’s climate knowledge with scientific one, to enable farmers easily adapt to climate variability.



a) Practical aspects of implementation and adoption by the user community.
b) The creation of specific tailored forecasts for selected clients
c) How to improve the uptake and understanding of the seasonal forecasts
d) Method to analyze long-term climate data and extract meaningful extreme events which could be used in stochastic weather generators.
e) Vulnerability indices as applied to seasonal forecasts


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