Integral impact assessment of climate change and climate variability across different scales

ADAPT aimed to assess the overall effect of climate change and climate variability on food security and the environment in selected river basins. To do so, ADAPT assessed the impact of global scenarios of changes in precipitation, temperature, CO2 levels and socio-economic development on:

• agricultural production at the field level;

• water availability, food production and the environment at the river basin level; and

• food production, demand and trade at the global level.

It proved particularly difficult to consolidate the results from the different levels. No model or modelling framework exists that integrates knowledge from the field, basin and global levels towards food security and adaptation at the river basin scale. Communication between researchers working at the same level in very different basins proved often easier than between those working at different levels. This is partly due to the incompatible formalization of the issues at hand that each require their own experience and mind set.

More fundamental is that the modelling frameworks at the various levels are each geared towards their own representative indicators. Since the research and policy questions differ, the indicators do so as well, making study results hard to compare. An example that illustrates this point is that, at the field scale, yield is the common parameter that integrates the relevant impacts of climate change and climate variation. At the basin level, however, overall food production may be more appropriate, whereas from a global trade perspective, food demand is a central parameter.

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