ResourcesThis section houses some of the general materials supporting the development of the Adaptation Atlas. You can access guides on using the Atlas or have your questions answered on our Help page.
For the MediaPlease visit our Press Room for more information on how you can contact the Atlas team. For your convenience, we have also made available materials that visually explain the Global Adaptation Atlas concept and current version of the application.
GlossaryThe Atlas uses terms and concepts that may not always be familiar. We have put together a quick guide to provide insight into these terms.
Adaptation: It is most commonly defined as the "adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities" (IPCC, 2007). The Global Adaptation Atlas uses the broadest possible definition of adaptation. We aim to capture all activities that contributors self-define as adaptation ranging from risk assessment to planning and infrastructure design to evaluation. By synthesizing the widest spectrum of adaptation measures, we aim to show how efforts to adapt to climate change will necessarily shift as climate impact information improves and local capacity builds over time.
Baseline: The baseline is any datum against which change is measured. It might be a “current baseline” in which case it represents observable, present-day conditions. It may be a “future baseline”, which is a projected future set of conditions excluding the driving factor of interest. (Source: IPCC) For the Atlas, this includes any study that examines a situation pre-2000.
Capacity Building: The process of strengthening or developing human resources, institutions, organizations, or networks.
Climate Change: As defined by the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change - change of climate which is attributed directly or indirectly to human activity that alters the composition of the global atmosphere and which is in addition to natural climate variability observed over comparable time periods. (Source: UNFCCC, 2009)
Coping Strategy: This refers to long-standing practices, knowledge, and experience from communities that have had to adapt to specific hazards or varying climatic conditions. (Source: UNFCCC Secretariat- Local Coping Strategies Database)
Current: This timeframe includes any study that is between 2000 and 2010. It is an examination of the immediate human impacts of climate change.
Food: This theme includes any study or activity that is related to food and livestock production, including but not limited to projections of crop yields and irrigation needs. Food-related activities can include projects that aim to ensure food security and experimentation with new drought-resistant crops. For more insight into what the Adaptation Atlas contains for this theme, please visit our Data Explorer page.
Health: This section tackles the intersection between climate change and its consequent health effects. The theme can include studies on changes in disease burdens and vectors and perceived temperature, amongst other topics. Activities can range from the establishment of early-warning systems for epidemics to education on preventative care for climate- related disasters. For more insight into what the Adaptation Atlas contains for this theme, please visit our Data Explorer page.
Land: This theme specifically addresses topics such as coastal erosion, land loss and degradation, amongst others. Activities under this section can include efforts such as mangrove swamp restoration to pasture management. For more insight into what the Adaptation Atlas contains for this theme, please visit our Data Explorer page.
Livelihood: Without a doubt, the effects of anthropogenic climate change will have an impact on the ability of individuals to secure and maintain their livelihoods. Projected occurrences of natural disasters, levels of subsistence farming and expected tourism flows – are several examples of the types of impact studies that are included under this theme. Adaptation efforts can include micro-insurance schemes and diversification of small-subsistence based economies. For more insight into what the Adaptation Atlas contains for this theme, please visit our Data Explorer page.
National Adaptation Programme of Action (NAPA): 49 Least Developed Countries (LDCs) were given support to go through the process of creating a National Adaptation Programme of Action to highlight priority activities that were essential to address their urgent and immediate needs to adapt to climate change impacts. (Source: UNFCCC Secretariat- LDC Portal)
Overlay: This term refers to the ability to dynamically stack the various compatible layers a user might be interested in. For example, if a user is interested in a layer on surface water and ground water run-off as well as maize production – he would be able to overlay all three layers to look at the confluences and divergences in impacts.
Projected and Projected Change: These terms are used as part of the Atlas’s timeframes. Projected refers to raw future estimates derived from models. On the other hand, Projected Change shows the change in a situation from a stated baseline (see above for definition of baseline). Both timeframes include any study that examines a post 2010 world.
Projection: This is used when referring to model-derived estimates of future climates. (Source: IPCC)
Quintiles: Each set of data underlying a layer is divided into 5 equal ‘portions’ – each portion contains 20% of all the observations in that layer.
Scenario Family: One or more scenarios that have the same demographic, politico-societal, economic and technological storyline. (Source: IPCC)
Scenario: A scenario is designed to be a coherent, internally consistent and plausible description of a possible future state of the world. Each scenario is one alternative image of how the future can unfold. A set of scenarios is often adopted to reflect, as well as possible, the range of uncertainty in projections. There are 40 different scenarios, each making different assumptions for future greenhouse gas pollution, land-use and other driving forces, including future technological and economic development. (Source: IPCC)
Severity: The gravity of an impact – in the Atlas, this is dependent on the quintile value associated with the particular area of interest.
Special Report on Emission Scenarios (SRES): A report that was prepared by the IPCC for the Third Assessment Report in 2001, on future emission scenarios to be used for driving global circulation models to develop climate change scenarios.
Themes: To manage the complexity of existing and future information on the human impacts of climate change, the design of the Global Adaptation Atlas has been based on the five major themes of food, health, land, livelihood and water. These are closely tied to those of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and are broad in scope so as to collect a wide-ranging set of studies that focus on the human impacts, as well as the activities that are in anticipation of or in response to these impacts.
Timeframe: In the Atlas, timeframe refers to the four time phases that we include: Baseline, Current, Projected and Projected Change. It allows us to parse the studies into manageable ‘buckets’ to allow for easier communication of the complexity of information.
Vulnerability: The degree to which humans and ecosystems may be harmed.
Water: This grouping addresses the many studies and activities that are related to addressing the shortage or abundance of water. It includes, but is not limited to, the study of changes in ground and surface water levels and drought and flood frequency. Activities under this theme include the design and construction flood-resistant housing structures and water management efforts. For more insight into what the Adaptation Atlas contains for this theme, please visit our Data Explorer page.