Outstanding Paper On The Vulnerability Perspective Titled “Robust Adaptation To Climate” By Wilby And Dessai 2010

Update Dec 7 2010 : There is also a book chapter by Rob Wilby that I recommend. It is

Wilby, R.L. and Fowler, H.J. 2010. Regional climate downscaling. In: Fung, C.F., Lopez, A. and New, M. (Eds.) Modelling the impact of climate change on water resources. Blackwell Publishing, Oxford.


There is a very important paper on the use of the vulnerability bottom-up, resource-based perspective to more effectively evaluate threats to the envirinoment and society, than the IPCC top-down global climate centric approach to assessing these threats.

This seminal paper is

Robert L. Wilby and Suraje Dessai, 2010: Robust adaptation to climate change,  first published online: 29 June 2010. Weather DOI: 10.1002/wea.543.

The article includes the text

“The scientific community is developing regional climate downscaling (RCD) techniques to reconcile the scale mismatch
between coarse-resolution OA/GCMs and location-specific information needs of adaptation planners……It is becoming apparent, however, that downscaling also has serious practical limitations, especially where the meteorological data needed for model calibration may be of dubious quality or patchy, the links between regional and local climate are poorly understood or resolved, and where technical capacity is not in place. Another concern is that high-resolution downscaling can be misconstrued as accurate downscaling (Dessai et al., 2009). In other words, our ability to downscale to finer time and space scales does not imply that our confidence is any greater in the resulting scenarios.”

‘Here we propose a framework that sifts for robust adaptation measures that are low regret, or reversible, incorporate safety margins, employ ‘soft’ solutions, are flexible and mindful of actions being taken by others to either mitigate or adapt to climate change (Hallegatte, 2009). Assuming that the most significant risks posed by climate (and non-climatic) hazards have been identified, the first step is to construct an inventory of all such adaptation options (labelled A, B, C…) (Figure 3). This set could include hard engineering solutions and retrofit to existing infrastructure, as well as soft solutions involving re-allocation of resources, behaviour change, institutional and/or sectoral reform/restructuring, awareness-raising, or risk spreading via financial instruments (Wilby et al., 2009).”

“We suggest that significant benefits may accrue by allowing adaptation options appraisal to take centre stage, rather than climate change scenarios. In the majority of cases, simple steps can be taken to review options that make sense today and are likely to be beneficial in the future, whatever the climate outlook.”

This excellent paper provides a framework (e.g. see their Figure 3) to move forward beyond the inappropriately limiting constaints of the 2007 IPCC downscaling framework. This vulnerability, bottom-up, resource-based approach is also reported in

A Way Forward In Climate Science Based On A Bottom-Up Resourse-Based Perspective

Pielke Sr., R., K. Beven, G. Brasseur, J. Calvert, M. Chahine, R. Dickerson, D. Entekhabi, E. Foufoula-Georgiou, H. Gupta, V. Gupta, W. Krajewski, E. Philip Krider, W. K.M. Lau, J. McDonnell,  W. Rossow,  J. Schaake, J. Smith, S. Sorooshian,  and E. Wood, 2009: Climate change: The need to consider human forcings besides greenhouse gases. Eos, Vol. 90, No. 45, 10 November 2009, 413. Copyright (2009) American Geophysical Union.

Pielke Sr., R.A., J.O. Adegoke, T.N. Chase, C.H. Marshall, T. Matsui, and D. Niyogi, 2007: A new paradigm for assessing the role of agriculture in the climate system and in climate change. Agric. Forest Meteor., Special Issue, 132, 234-254.

Pielke, R.A. Sr., 2008: Global climate models – Many contributing influences. Citizen’s Guide to Colorado Climate Change, Colorado Climate Foundation for Water Education, pp. 28-29.

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