Wednesday, November 12, 2008

New tool helps evaluate regional plans for climate change adaptation

Environmental Expert: Adapting to climate change requires policymakers to negotiate the complex web of effects it will have on the environment and human health. A new internet-based tool could help policymakers understand these effects and choose appropriate adaptive measures for their local and regional development plans.

Climate change will have major impacts on the environment and human health within the next few decades. Adapting to climate change at local and regional levels will require policymakers to make decisions based on many different effects. In order to make the most appropriate decisions, policymakers will need to understand how these effects are interrelated.

A new internet-based tool called an 'adaptation scan' is designed to help policymakers factor the effects of climate change into their decision-making plans. The scan includes local climate change scenarios and effects for specific areas and provides adaptive measures to deal with both positive and negative effects.

Developed in The Netherlands, the adaptation scan helps policymakers pinpoint risks and possibilities posed by climate change within their area. It consists of two linked databases - one containing effects and one containing measures. These effects and measures interact in complex ways. For instance, one direct effect of climate change could be higher water levels in canals as a result of increased rainfall during winter. One adaptive measure in this case could be precautionary draining to avoid flooding. Indirect effects arising from this might include restricted shipping, as a result of closed waterways.

….At present, the scan covers 22 physical changes, 250 effects and 100 adaptive measures of climate change and there are plans to extend its range even further. The researchers say that although the current scan is designed for The Netherlands, it could be used as a model for other EU countries…..

Debris from the Johnstown Flood in Pennsylvania, June 1889

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