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This handbook is designed to help those conducting research support advice to stakeholders on the potential impacts of climate change on the environment and their society and economy. Underlying the research are two fundamental questions: “What does climate change mean to us?” and “What might be done about it?”

This handbook is designed to provide newcomers to the field of climate impact and adaptation assessment with a guide to available research methods, particularly for answering the first question. The handbook will also serve as a ready reference for many others currently engaged in impacts and adaptation research. The situations in which climate impact assessment are required can be quite varied. A common situation is that studies are needed at the national or country level, among others as inputs for the National Communications as required by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).

So-called “Country Studies” have been supported through the UN Environment Programme, the governments of the Netherlands, the United States, and others. Typically in these studies some key sectors of the economy are selected for special attention. In other instances specifically vulnerable regions are selected for study. Impact studies are not necessarily con-fined within the boundaries of one country. International river basins have been the subject of climate impact studies and so have ecological regions such as deserts, grasslands, mountains, and small islands.

This handbook is essentially as an introduction to a wide range of methods that can be used to design assessment studies of climate change impacts and related adaptation strategies. It does not serve as a “stand-alone”, step-by-step, or “how to do it” document. It is not prescriptive nor does it describe only a single method by sector. The intent of providing an overview of methods is to give readers enough information to select the method most appropriate to their situation. However, not enough information is given to apply a method. To carry out an impact assessment, reference must be made to more detailed literature, software and data may need to be obtained from elsewhere, and in many instances individual or small group training and consultation sessions will be required.

Product Type
Knowledge & Learning
Focus Area
Climate Resilient Development
Low Carbon Development
Screening, Monitoring & Evaluation
Scope / Extension
Sub-national, Project, & Local/Community level
Coastal Areas (special case)
Urban (special case)
Methodological Steps
Spatial / Geographical Coverage Location
Current Version
1998 Version 2
System Requirements
File Size (for download)
3.8 Mb
e-Learning available
Facilitated Learning Avalable