Adapting to a changing climate
Whatever actions are taken now to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, the climate will continue to change for some decades to come due to the long life of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere. Actions to plan and prepare for the inevitable impacts of our changing climate, such as increased risks of flooding, overheating, drought and other severe weather events, are known as Climate Change Adaptation.
Everyone will be affected by climate change. Organisations, businesses, communities, infrastructure, even the way we do things, will be impacted in some way either directly or indirectly as climate impacts across the globe will have knock-on effects here. A changing climate is not an environmental issue but one that cuts across economic, social and environmental considerations. Adapting to the consequences of a changing climate requires appropriate action, based on assessments of risk and vulnerability, as well as identifying the opportunities that might be created.
A number of studies have been undertaken to assist understanding of how different regions and sectors of the UK will be affected by climate change.
The Online Handbook of Climate Trends Across Scotland provides a historical record of Scotland's climate over the last century (1914-2004). It compiles an analysis of observed climate data and supports the development of climate change adaptation strategies by providing a benchmark of observed climate trends.
The UK Climate Projections (UKCP09) provide climate information designed to help those needing to plan how they will adapt to a changing climate. The research indicates that a warmer, wetter climate will develop in Scotland in future and what are currently considered to be exceptional heat and precipitation events will become more common and severe events more extreme. There will be more extended hot periods, major increases in maximum temperatures nationwide, and fewer days of snow and frost. There will be longer periods of dry weather in the summer and the wettest days of the year are likely to be considerably wetter than at present. The Scottish Government’s Climate change Adaptation Framework aims to build resilience and capacity to adapt to these changes.
EU Cities Adapt
Stirling is one of only 2 UK cities (the other being Birmingham) to be selected to participate in the training phase of this new project, which will provide capacity building and training for cities in developing and implementing a climate change adaptation strategy. Training will encompass web-based tutorials, workshops, city site visits, coaching and peer exchanges, access to a web-portal with tools, guiding materials and a reference library, as well as an interactive members’ exchange forum. Stirling’s allocated coach is based at the University of Manchester and is scheduled to visit 3 times during the project. The main output from the project will be a draft Adaptation Strategy by May 2013 which will be developed through further consultation and with the intention a final version will be adopted by Stirling Council in spring 2014.
Weather Impacts Profile
A local Weather (or Climate) Impacts Profile is a tool that enables organisations to better understand their exposure to weather and climate. It is a study of the more extreme weather events that have affected an area in the recent past with an analysis of service responses. The process requires that severe weather events, impacts and consequences are identified, recorded and assessed.
A Weather Impacts Profile (WIP) cannot capture all consequences of a weather event but can identify the main ones that an organisation might want to identify, assess and reduce the risk of re-occurring. By focussing on extreme weather impacts and the responses by organisations to such events a WIP can highlight potential vulnerabilities that may become more common in the future if such events become more frequent as a result of a changing climate.
Stirling Council has undertaken a Weather Impacts Profile, focussing on the years 2000 to 2010, to consider the impact of past severe weather events on service delivery. This will inform future work on how the Council and partners may need to adapt to ensure services continue to be delivered effectively in the face of changes to the climate in the local area.