BLOG | Researching adaptation in climate change hotspots

By Logan Cochrane, former Professional Development Award Recipient, CARIAA program team

Drawn from the CARIAA publication in Regional Environmental Change.

The climate change hotspot focus of the Collaborative Adaptation Research Initiative in Africa and Asia (CARIAA) has challenged everyone in the program to work at multiple scales, and to integrate biophysical, ecological and social science perspectives for more informed policy.

We are learning however that our regional scale focus on hotspots poses a key difficulty for a program that aspires to influence policy: there is often a mismatch between the scale of ecological processes and that of decision making. For example, while understanding the impact of glacier melt on a river system requires a multi-country focus, decision making about agriculture is made separately in each country, and often at district scales.

CARIAA researchers have therefore had to develop some innovative approaches to dealing with these kinds of challenges. As described in a recent CARIAA synthesis, this includes models to support decision making in areas such as agriculture (Siderius et al. 2016; Biemans et al. 2016), glacier melt (Collier et al. 2015), high altitude precipitation (Dahri et al. 2016), migration (Lazar et al. 2015), and tools for assessing adaptation (Chapman et al. 2016) and model selection with specific reference to river basins (Lutz 2016; Lutz et al. 2016). These innovations are just the tip of the iceberg, and CARIAA will continue to support work that traverses multiple scales and positively impacts policy and practice.