Adapting to rates versus amounts of climate change: a case of adaptation to sea-level rise

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Video in TIB AV-Portal: Adapting to rates versus amounts of climate change: a case of adaptation to sea-level rise

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Adapting to rates versus amounts of climate change: a case of adaptation to sea-level rise
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Adaptation is the process of adjusting to climate change in order to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities associated with it. Most adaptation strategies are designed to adjust to a new climate state. However, despite our best efforts to curtail greenhouse gas emissions, climate is likely to continue changing far into the future. Here, we show how considering rates of change affects the projected optimal adaptation strategy. We ground our discussion with an example of optimal investment in the face of continued sea-level rise, presenting a quantitative model that illustrates the interplay among physical and economic factors governing coastal development decisions such as rate of sea-level rise, land slope, discount rate, and depreciation rate. This model shows that the determination of optimal investment strategies depends on taking into account future rates of sea-level rise, as well as social and political constraints. This general approach also applies to the development of improved strategies to adapt to ongoing trends in temperature, precipitation, and other climate variables. Adaptation to some amount of change instead of adaptation to ongoing rates of change may produce inaccurate estimates of damages to the social systems and their ability to respond to external pressures.

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