Since the SAR, improvements in methods and tools for studying impacts of future changes in climate have included greater emphasis on the use of process-oriented models, transient climate change scenarios, refined socioeconomic baselines, and higher resolution spatial and temporal scales. Country studies and regional assessments in every continent have tested models and tools in a variety of contexts. First-order impact models have been linked to global systems models. Adaptation has been included in many assessments, often for the first time.
Methodological gaps remain concerning scales, data, validation, and integration of adaptation and the human dimensions of climate change. Procedures for assessing regional and local vulnerability and long-term adaptation strategies require high-resolution assessments, methodologies to link scales, and dynamic modeling that uses corresponding and new data sets. Validation at different scales often is lacking. Regional integration across sectors is required to place vulnerability in the context of local and regional development. Methods and tools to assess vulnerability to extreme events have improved but are constrained by low confidence in climate change scenarios and the sensitivity of impact models to major climatic anomalies. Understanding and integrating higher order economic effects and other human dimensions of global change are required. Adaptation models and vulnerability indices to prioritize adaptation options are at early stages of development in many fields. Methods to enable stakeholder participation in assessments need improvement. [2.3]
Integrated assessment is an interdisciplinary process that combines, interprets, and communicates knowledge from diverse scientific disciplines from the natural and social sciences to investigate and understand causal relationships within and between complicated systems. Methodological approaches employed in such assessments include computer-aided modeling, scenario analyses, simulation gaming and participatory integrated assessment, and qualitative assessments that are based on existing experience and expertise. Since the SAR, significant progress has been made in developing and applying such approaches to integrated assessment, globally and regionally.
However, progress to date, particularly with regard to integrated modeling, has focused largely on mitigation issues at the global or regional scale and only secondarily on issues of impacts, vulnerability, and adaptation. Greater emphasis on the development of methods for assessing vulnerability is required, especially at national and subnational scales where impacts of climate change are felt and responses are implemented. Methods designed to include adaptation and adaptive capacity explicitly in specific applications must be developed. [2.4]
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