||Straus Consulting, Inc., Boulder, CO.; Abt Associates, Inc., Cambridge, MA.; Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC. Office of Research and Development.
Concern about the potential effects of climate change on the quantity, quality, timing, and demand for water Vulnerability to climate change, as defined by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), refers to the exposure, sensitivity, and adaptive capacity of systems to climate change. Exposure consists of the type of change a system experiences. A coastal city might be exposed to a 3-foot sea level rise, while an inland city would not. Sensitivity is the effect that climate change can have on a system assuming no planned adaptation. For example, climate change is projected to reduce the growth of many crops but increase the growth of others. The sensitivity of these crops to climate change differs. Adaptive capacity refers to the potential or ability of a system to adapt to the effects of climate change. The adaptive capacity of a system is important, for example, in distinguishing the vulnerability of wealthy and poor societies or human systems versus ecosystems. Wealthier societies, in general, have greater adaptive capacity and, thus, on average, are considered less vulnerable to climate change than poorer societies. is growing. In particular, decisions about water infrastructure have long-term implications because the infrastructure built today likely will be in place for decades.