The second installment of a three-part series we’re running over at the International Research Institute for Climate and Society web site. IRI Director-General, Stephen Zebiak, gets into more detail on defining climate risk management.
Once we’ve identified the best technologies and practices, the fourth and final step is finding the “real world” arrangements that enable their implementation. Using the example of an early-warning system for food crises, we can ask: What are the actual mechanisms to have in place for hunger relief? Who are the key decision makers to identify? What specific types of climate information do they need in order to take action and who will supply it? How do we make this sustainable?
The fact that climate risk management can be effective doesn’t make it easy. Because the process is inherently interdisciplinary, it requires a detailed understanding of complex, context-specific interactions between physical, natural and social systems. It also involves collaboration among experts who must work together on cross-disciplinary problems. Although developing the proper strategies is a complicated task, climate risk management can be applied to agricultural, water, health or any other sector, on spatial scales that range from local to global, and on time scales from near- to long-term.
Read the entire piece on the IRI web site.
Photo: Indonesia food market. Francesco Fiondella/IRI.
In the first of a three-part series, IRI’s Director-General, Stephen Zebiak, makes the case for climate-risk management as an approach for dealing with droughts, floods, epidemics and other problems that plague society and hinder development. This approach, if applied correctly, would also be an effective adaptation strategy to climate change.
Climate shocks in the form of droughts, floods, cyclones, and related problems such as epidemics, food insecurity and infrastructure loss have been playing out throughout recorded history, but with increasing severity as populations become increasingly vulnerable. A growing body of evidence, much of it captured in the 2007-2008 Human Development Report by the United Nations, points to the direct effects of climate on economic and human development, particularly in low-income countries. Scan the headlines of recent weeks, and you’ll undoubtedly come across stories about the ongoing food crisis in Niger caused by irregular rainfall, which threatens the lives and well being of at least seven million people. You’ll see pictures from the extremely harsh winter in Mongolia, which wiped out nearly 20% of the country’s livestock, leading to food shortages and loss of livelihood for tens of thousands of families. You’ll read about how hundreds of thousands of earthquake survivors in Haiti are still living in relief camps and other temporary structures, under threat of a hurricane season forecasted to be unusually active. The ability to cope better with climate is thus a paramount issue of the present, and a potentially even greater issue in the foreseeable future. We need ‘win-win’ approaches to better manage current climate risks and to build capability to cope with the climate of the future.
The work needed to provide problem-specific information and to advance innovations in the use of such information is the science of climate risk management practice. Put simply, climate risk management is the process of climate-informed decision-making. It involves the use of strategies that reduce uncertainty through the systematic use of climate information. This work is especially challenging because it involves a complex interplay between physical, natural, and social systems and requires that practitioners engage with good science, good policy, and good practice. At present there are some organizations working to connect these disparate disciplines — but while their work has provided examples of practical ways to manage climate risk, the demand for useable knowledge and information far outstrips what can be provided.
Read the entire piece on the IRI web site.
Photo: Pétionville camp for displaced Haitians. Eric Holthaus/IRI.
Eric Holthaus, a colleague at the IRI, has written a nice piece on the latest, troubling hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic region. First few grafs below..
The Atlantic hurricane season has officially started, and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society has issued its updated seasonal hurricane forecast for the region. The results continue to indicate that an above-normal season is very likely. This could spell trouble for highly vulnerable Caribbean nations such as Haiti, still reeling from the effects of a 7.0 magnitude earthquake on January 12, 2010. On top of this, other forecasts point to increased thunderstorm activity for the region as well.
The IRI’s hurricane forecast probabilities are the strongest the institution has ever issued at this point in the season, eclipsed only by a late-season forecast during record-setting 2005. The latest numbers call for a 50% chance of above-normal activity, 35% chance of near-normal activity and a 15% chance for below-normal activity. Put in simpler terms, this means that the chance of having an above-normal year is more than three times the chance of having a below-normal one.
The hurricane forecast issued last week by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is even stronger, calling for an 85% chance of an above-normal season.
Full story: http://iri.columbia.edu/features/2010/an_active_hurricane_season_predicted.html
Caption: Above-normal temperatures in the North Atlantic are strongly influencing recent forecasts that call for a robust 2010 hurricane season. Map courtesy of NOAA.