||National Research Council, Washington, DC.; Environmental Protection Agency, Washington, DC.; National Aeronautics and Space Administration, Washington, DC.; Geological Survey, Reston, VA.
Policy makers are increasingly seeking scientific advice on climate change adaptation strategies, despite a historic lack of funding and program development in this area. The existing research community focused on issues of climate change vulnerability, impacts, and adaptation is not necessarily prepared, organizationally or conceptually, to meet these growing public needs. This report summarizes a National Research Council (NRC) workshop at which presentations and discussion identified specific needs associated with this gap between the demand and supply of scientific information about climate change adaptation. Climate change has become a dominant issue in U.S. policy arenas, with debates on the causes of climate change giving way to debates on the responses to climate change. The need for informed response strategies is voiced with increasing frequency by governments at all levels, as well as by groups in the private and nongovernmental sectors. With effective climate change mitigation policies still under development, and with even the most aggressive proposals unable to halt climate change immediately, many decision makers are focusing unprecedented attention on the need for strategies to adapt to climate changes that are now unavoidable. The effects of climate change will touch every corner of the worlds economies and societies; adaptation is inevitable. The remaining question is to what extent humans will anticipate and reduce undesired consequences of climate change, or postpone response until after climate change impacts have altered ecological and socioeconomic systems so significantly that opportunities for adaptation become limited.