Climate Change 2001:
Working Group II: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability
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4.8. Science and Information Needs

4.8.1. Introduction

In the water sector, it is important to distinguish between the needs of those who wish to estimate the potential magnitude of climate change impacts on hydrology and water resources—to meet IPCC concerns, for example—and the more pragmatic needs of water managers who need to consider how best to adapt to climate change. The two sets of requirements are linked, but there are some important differences in emphasis.

4.8.2. Estimating Future Impacts of Climate Change

Some climate change analysts are essentially concerned with estimating what would actually happen under different climate futures: What are the impacts, for example, of continued growth of emissions of GHGs at 1% yr -1 , and what would be the impact of stabilizing CO2 concentrations at, say, 550 ppmv by 2150? How do changes in variability affect the water environment? These impacts—and their costs—then could be compared with the impacts, costs, and benefits of mitigation. Such studies, in principle, could allow identification of “dangerous” levels of climate change. There also are important science questions concerning the processes by which climate change might impact the water environment. For example, how might flow pathways through soils change?

Such research questions need developments in the following areas:

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