TS1 Scope approach and method of the Working Group II assessment

The decision to produce a Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) was taken by the 19th Session of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) in April 2002.

The Working Group II Report has twenty chapters. The core chapters (3-16) address the future impacts of climate change on sectors and regions, the potential for adaptation and the implications for sustainability. Chapter 1 looks at observed changes and Chapter 2 assesses new methodologies and the characterisation of future conditions. Chapters 17-20 assess responses to impacts through adaptation (17), the interrelationships between adaptation and mitigation (18), key vulnerabilities and risks (19) and, finally, perspectives on climate change and sustainability (20).

The Working Group II Fourth Assessment, in common with all IPCC reports, has been produced through an open and peer-reviewed process. It builds upon past assessments and IPCC Special Reports, and incorporates the results of the past 5 years of climate change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability research. Each chapter presents a balanced assessment of the literature which has appeared since the Third Assessment Report1 (TAR), including non-English language and, where appropriate, 'grey' literature.2

This Assessment aims to describe current knowledge of climate-change impacts, adaptation and vulnerability. Specifically it addresses five questions:

• What is the current knowledge about impacts of climate change which are observable now? (addressed in Section TS.2 of the Technical Summary)

• What new scenarios and research methods have led to improvements in knowledge since the Third Assessment? (addressed in Section TS.3)

• What is the current knowledge about future effects of climate change on different sectors and regions? (addressed in Section TS.4)

• What is the current knowledge about adaptation, the interaction between adaptation and mitigation, key vulnerabilities, and the role of sustainable development in the context of climate change? (addressed in Section TS .5)

• What gaps exist in current knowledge and how best can these be filled? (addressed in Section TS.6).

Each of the twenty chapters of the Working Group II Fourth Assessment had a minimum of two Coordinating Lead Authors, six Lead Authors and two Review Editors. The writing team and review editors were appointed by the IPCC Bureau on the recommendation of the Working Group II Co-Chairs and Vice-Chairs. They were selected from the pool of nominated experts, in consultation with the international community of scientists active in the field, and taking into consideration expertise and experience. In total, the Working Group II Fourth Assessment involved 48 Coordinating Lead Authors, 125 Lead Authors and 45 Review Editors, drawn from 70 countries. In addition there were 183 Contributing Authors and 910 Expert Reviewers.

This Technical Summary is intended to capture the most important scientific aspects of the full Working Group II Assessment. Reducing the information from 800 pages to 50 requires much condensing; consequently every statement in the Summary appears with its source in the Assessment, enabling the reader to pursue more detail. Sourcing information is provided in square brackets in the text (see Box TS.1). Uncertainty information is provided in parentheses (see Box TS.2 for definitions of uncertainty). Key terms are defined in Box TS.3.

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