9.1.1 Summary of knowledge assessed in the Third Assessment Report

The Third Assessment Report (TAR) of the IPCC identified a range of impacts associated with climate change and variability, including decreases in grain yields; changes in runoff and water availability in the Mediterranean and southern countries of Africa; increased stresses resulting from increased droughts and floods; and significant plant and animal species extinctions and associated livelihood impacts. Such factors were shown, moreover, to be aggravated by low adaptive capacity (IPCC, 2001). Many of these conclusions, as shown below, remain valid for this Fourth Assessment Report1.

9.1.2 New advances and approaches used in the Fourth Assessment Report

Recent scientific efforts, including a focus on both an impacts-led approach as well as a vulnerability-led approach (see Adger et al., 2004, for a summary), have enabled a more detailed assessment of the interacting roles of climate and a range of other factors driving change in Africa. This approach has been used to frame much of what follows in this chapter and has enabled a greater sensitivity to, and a deeper understanding of, the role of 'multiple stresses' in heightening vulnerability to climate stress. Several of these stresses (outlined in Sections 9.2.1, 9.2.2 and 9.4) are likely to be compounded by climate change and climate variability in the future. Recent additional case studies on adaptation have also been undertaken, providing new insights (see Section 9.5, Table 9.2).

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