Research Paper: Risks of Climate Change

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[. . .] Increases in bushfire frequency and intensity have the potential to increase rates of damage to buildings and structures, especially those in non-urban areas.

Drier conditions may lead to increased ground movement and changes in groundwater. Higher temperatures and more solar radiation could amplify degradation of materials.


Key impacts stated for case studies conducted in England list sea flooding of saltwater into aquifers may be a problem in some areas. Stated specifically is: "The expected rise in sea level as a result of climate change will increase the risk of the sea overtopping current defenses or encroaching on undefended land leading to flooding. Coastal flooding is also likely to increase in frequency due to predicted increases in storm frequency and intensity. The Environmental Agency Flood Map provides an indication of areas at risk of flooding from the sea....but this does not include increased risk of from climate change." (Adapting to Climate Change Impacts on Water Management: A Guide for Planners, 2006) Provisionary plans have been made in England to deal with the possible scenarios, which could occur in the future. Stated as the assessment risk checklist for impacts to water are the following: (1) Storm level rise; (2) Storm surges, extreme high water levels and tidal flooding; (3) Flash floods, slow onset flooding and fluvial flooding; (4) Groundwater rise flooding; (5) Land erosion/landslips/subsidence; (6) Storm damage; and (7) Water Shortage. (Adapting to Climate Change Impacts on Water Management: A Guide for Planners, 2006) Specific site development must necessarily answer the questions of "how the suitability of different adaptation responses will vary with: (1) Location - what adaptation measures are necessary or appropriate? (2) Size of development - What opportunities are there for requiring developers to deliver certain features in new developments? (3) Type and use of development - is the adaptation response suitable for residential, commercial, office, retail or industrial development? What level of risk can a development withstand? (4) Design life of the development - How long will the development be operational for?; (5) Type of developer - some developments may be more open to adaptation incorporation measures than others; (6) Potential synergies - response to other climate change related impacts; (7) Potential conflicts - between adaptation and/or mitigation options; and (8) Opportunities for 'no regrets' measures. (Adapting to Climate Change Impacts on Water Management: A Guide for Planners, 2006) The many risks and potentialities to be addressed in terms of water resources are listed in the following table specifically, the risks, adaptation measures and principles in pressure on water resources and addressing flood risks.

Menu of Adaptation Options to Respond to Water-Related Climate Change Impacts

Source: Adapting to Climate Change Impacts on Water Management: A Guide for Planners (2006)

Planning for climate change impacts on water are stated to include the following: (1) Water efficient fixtures and equipment within developments: A possibility exists for creation of a "valid planning condition or obligation to secure the installation of efficient fixtures and equipment within a new building, where a shortage has been identified and water conservations measures are essential for new developments to take place."; (2) Water meters to encourage demand management; (3) Water efficiency in gardens and communal places; and (4) Rainwater use systems and greywater use systems.(Ibid) Other measures include water conservation measures in terms of building regulations. Water reuse systems will be effective in addressing impacts of climate change. The rainwater reuse system will collect rainwater "from where it falls" and then treat, store, and distribute the water for use. Water will be collected within the boundaries of a property, which includes water draining from roofs and other surfaces including hardstanding ground and pervious paving. Correctly collected and stores the rainwater has many uses and has the potential to supply over 50% of domestic water use. Barriers to use include: (1) unproven cost to benefit ratio; (2) difficulties in operation and maintenance; (3) water quality standards and public health; (4) lack of guidance on system; and (5) lack of legislation in support of system. (Ibid) The cost for installation is stated to be "relatively low" but higher costs are associated with "retrofitting systems into buildings." (Ibid) Different buildings types are more suitable to certain methods of water efficiency as shown in the following list:

Method of Water Efficiency Type of Development

Dual and low flush cisterns Residential and commercial

Water efficient white goods;

washing machines and dishwashers Residential and Commercial

Low use showerheads and taps,

Pipe run and lagging Residential and Commercial

Urinal flushing controls Commercial

Rainwater and greywater systems Residential and commercial

Drought tolerant gardens Residential and commercial

Limitations in existing models are noted to be: (1) models calculate the climate at a space scale that is partially limited by the computing power available, and this is often at a horizontal resolution of roughly 100km; (2) models may exclude significant regional components of the system (such as narrow coastal currents, local topography or land surface conditions) that cannot be adequately represented in the global model; and (3) the regional projection of some climatic indicators such as temperature is physically more likely to be projectable than those in which the physics and dynamics are much more complicated -- " and often non-linear -- " leading to the potential for distorted representation at the regional level." (Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia, 2005) It is stated that in recognition of these limitations other approaches are being explored in relation to climate change projects from global models to regions and locations of interest: (1) the process of 'nesting' higher resolution models in the lower resolution global models; (2) use of distorted grids that allow for greater resolution for sections of the earth's surface that are of special interest; and (3) the process of 'downscaling' whereby statistical methods, based on observational evidence of the relationship between spatially average and local conditions are used to transform model-resolution information to local information. (Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia, 2005) Complete certainty "will remain elusive given complexity of climate systems" (Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia, 2005) however, it is possible that better measures of probability associated with change to specific features of the climate system will be established. It is critical that probability models be developed in coping with these climate changes in the best possible manner. According to the Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia (2005) report different systems have "varying levels of adaptive capacity" and there are a "wide range of responses to the threat of climate change" which include the following: (1) Bear the loss - in theory, this option occurs "when those affected have no capacity to respond of where the costs of adaptation measures are considered to be high in relation to the risk of the expected damages." (2) Share the loss - this adaptation response involves "sharing the loss among a wider community" including loss sharing through "public relief, rehabilitation, and reconstruction paid for from public funds. Shared losses can also be achieved through private insurance." (3) Modify the threat - For some risks, it is possible to exercise a degree of control over the environmental threat itself. When this is a 'natural' event such as a flood or a drought, possible measures include flood control works (dams, dikes, levees) (4) Prevent effects - this adaptation measure involves "steps to prevent the effects of climate change and variability"; (5) Change use - in cases where the threat of climate change "makes the continuation of an economic activity impossible or extremely risky, consideration can be given to changing the use." (6) Change location - "A more extreme response is to change the location of economic activities." (7) Research - adaptation can also be advanced "by research into new technologies and new methods of adaptation."; and (8) Educate, inform and encourage behavioral change - adaptation through the dissemination of knowledge through education and public information campaigns, leading to behavioral change." (Ibid) According to the Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia (2005) report "different situations will require a different mix and sequencing of responses, with the need to assess each set of risks and opportunities on its merits." Classes of Adaptive Responses are shown in the following table.

Classes of Adaptive Responses

Source: Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia (2005)

The following figure represents the uncertainties that are "associated with formulating a climate adaptation response.

Cascade of Uncertainties Associated with Formulating a Climate Adaptation Response

Source: Climate Change Risk and Vulnerability: Promoting an Efficient Adaptation Response in Australia (2005)

It will be necessary "given the multiple levels of uncertainty that will need to be resolved" that those in decision-making roles are careful in relation to assumptions and methodology because inappropriate discounting or misapplication of decision techniques are likely… [END OF PREVIEW]

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Cite This Research Paper:

APA Format

Risks of Climate Change.  (2007, September 23).  Retrieved May 27, 2019, from

MLA Format

"Risks of Climate Change."  23 September 2007.  Web.  27 May 2019. <>.

Chicago Format

"Risks of Climate Change."  September 23, 2007.  Accessed May 27, 2019.