The University of Arizona

Adapting to Climate Change Impacts

photo of two people setting up climate monitoring equipment

Enhancing monitoring and data collection networks can be an effective adaptation strategy.
Credit: Zack Guido, CLIMAS, The University of Arizona

Introduction to Climate Change Adaptation
Even if greenhouse gas emissions are reduced significantly in the coming decades, the Earth’s climate is projected to continue warming. Government agencies, businesses, communities and other organizations in the Southwest will need to plan for and adapt to the impacts of a warmer and possibly drier climate.

Scenario Planning and the National Park Service
In order to ensure that our national parks are resilient in the face of large scale changes, the National Park Service has begun to use scenario planning as a tool to help managers better understand what may be in store in the future.

Adaptation Planning Guides
Researchers, advocacy groups, and governments have created guides for developing climate adaptation plans. By reviewing one or more of the guides provided, governments and other organizations can get a better sense of what is needed to develop a plan.

Assessing Climate Impacts
As an early planning step, government agencies and other organizations preparing for climate change should assess climate impacts likely to affect them, like increased wildfire risk, more frequent heat waves, and reduced mountain snowpack. Agencies and other organizations can review information about impacts found on this Web site and in other impact assessment reports and conduct additional research to generate more specific information.

Assessing Vulnerability to Climate Change
Impact assessments tend to focus on the physical consequences of climate change, whereas vulnerability assessments focus more on how specific systems, such as critical habitat and municipal water, are sensitive to impacts and how they can adapt or be adapted. Vulnerability is typically described as a condition of exposure and sensitivity to impacts, as well as the capacity to adapt.

Developing Adaptation Strategies
Climate adaptation strategy development is a relatively new effort for most government agencies and other organizations. Several examples of adaptation strategy development involving government, researchers, non-profits, and the public shed light on this emerging field.