Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change

Andrew A. Rosenberg
Created: 7/14/2014 -


The National Academy of Sciences’ report on Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change is part of the America’s Climate Choices suite of studies that was requested by Congress.  The report concludes that much of the nation’s experience to date in managing and protecting its people, resources, and infrastructure is based on the historic record of climate variability during a period of relatively stable climate.  Adaptation to climate change calls for a new paradigm—one that considers a range of possible future climate conditions and ­associated impacts, some well outside the realm of past experience.  Adaptation is a process that requires actions from many decision-makers in federal, state, tribal, and local governments, the private sector, non-governmental organizations, and community groups. However, current adaptation efforts are hampered by a lack of solid information about the benefits, costs, and effectiveness of various adaptation options, by uncertainty about future climate impacts at a scale necessary for decision-making, and by a lack of coordination.

The report calls for a national adaptation strategy to support and coordinate decentralized efforts. As part of this strategy, the federal government should provide technical and scientific resources that are currently lacking at the local or regional scale, incentives for local and state authorities to begin adaptation planning, guidance across jurisdictions, shared lessons learned, and support of scientific research to expand knowledge of impacts and adaptation.


National / Federal
Sector Addressed
Conservation / Restoration
Development (socioeconomic)
Disaster Risk Management
Land Use Planning
Public Health
Tourism / Recreation
Transportation / Infrastructure
Type of Adaptation Action/Strategy
Natural Resource Management / Conservation
Incorporate future conditions into natural resources planning and policies
Capacity Building
Design or reform institutions
Increase / Improve public awareness, education, and outreach efforts
Conduct / Gather additional research, data, and products
Governance and Policy
Create new or enhance existing policies or regulations
Develop / implement adaptive management strategies
Maintain adequate financial resources for adaptation
Target Climate Changes and Impacts
Infrastructure damage
Public health risks
Sociopolitical Setting