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Preparing the ground for adaptation Assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change Identifying adaptation options Assessing adaptation options Implementation Monitoring and evaluation

Assessing risks and vulnerabilities to climate change

2.3 Where can I find future climate and impact projections for my city/town and how to understand them?

Regardless of which methodology for the risk or vulnerability assessment in your urban area is chosen, it will be necessary to carry out an assessment of future risks. Future risk assessments are based on climate models that enable projections of future climate conditions in a specific area. Additional models can provide projections of specific impacts, such as flood risks or land slide risks etc. Collecting or developing these projections is a crucial step in the adaptation process because it is a major determinant of the necessary adaptation level.


Where to find future climate and impact projections?

Several sources of information exist including assessments carried out at national level and within several research projects. Two examples are the 2012 EEA assessment report on climate change impacts and vulnerability in Europe and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change's (IPCC) 5th Assessment Report for state of the art scientific information on expected impacts, adaptation and vulnerability at global and European level.

European-wide and national research projects have created socio-economic and climate scenarios across a variety of sectors and developed projections for different climate and socio-economic variables. These projections, when combined, provide an indication of future climate change impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, mostly on European or national scale.

Assessing future climate risks and downscaling the impact models to local levels are some of the most demanded tasks. Municipalities can approach specialists who provide these so called ‘climate services' to carry out the tasks. The provision of climate services is usually organised on a national level. JPI Climate, which is a collaboration of 14 European countries, coordinates climate research on the EU level. Their reports on climate service providers' mapping provide valuable information on existing providers and services.

Further sources of regional or national climate impact projects are the national adaptation platforms that can be found through the country pages.

How to understand projections (basics of scenarios and climate modelling)?

In order to make decisions for local adaptation, it is necessary to know how the climate will change locally and the extent to which heavy rainfall events, sea ice, permafrost, heat waves and many other aspects of the climate are likely to change. To predict these changes, complex numerical computer models are used. A variety of models have been developed to study different aspects of the climate system. There is no single best model but rather a pool of models or model components that are combined to study specific questions.

Climate projections are usually a statement about the likelihood that something will happen in the future if certain influential conditions (e.g. increase in greenhouse gases) develop.

Climate models are a mathematical representation of the climate. They are being developed on various scales. The General Circulation Models (GCMs) provide information on a global scale; however, for policy-making it is essential that climate change is simulated on the regional and national levels. Regional Climate Models (RCMs) are used for this purpose.

Scenarios used to develop climate projections are related to several inherent uncertainties and based on several assumptions. For more information on uncertainties, refer to Q2.4. It is important to understand these main elements in scenarios: the base year, the timelines used and the extent to which sectors are covered in order to have a clear understanding of the impact projection.

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