Climatic Change

, Volume 56, Issue 1, pp 91-117

First online:

Climate Impact Response Functions as Impact Tools in the Tolerable Windows Approach

  • H.-M. FüsselAffiliated withPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg
  • , F. L. TothAffiliated withPotsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research, Telegrafenberg
  • , J. G. van MinnenAffiliated withDepartment for Environmental Assessment, National Institute of Public Health and the Environment
  • , F. KasparAffiliated withMax Planck Institute for Meteorology

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A critical issue for policymakers in defining mitigationstrategies for climate change is the availability ofappropriate evaluation tools. The development of climate impactresponse functions (CIRFs) is our reaction to this challenge.CIRFs depict the response of selected climate-sensitive impactsectors across a wide range of plausible futures. They consist ofa limited number of climate-change-related dimensions andsensitivities of sector-specific impact models. The concept ofCIRFs is defined and the procedure to develop them is presented.The use of climate change scenarios derived from various GCMexperiments and the adopted impact assessment models areexplained.The CIRFs presented here consider climate change impacts onnatural vegetation, crop production, and water availability. Theyare part of the ICLIPS integrated assessment framework based onthe tolerable windows approach. CIRFs can be applied both in`forward' and in `inverse' mode. In the latter, they help totranslate thresholds for climate impacts perceived by stakeholders(so-called impact guardrails) into constraints for climatevariables (so-called climate windows). This enables the results ofdetailed impact models to be incorporated into intertemporallyoptimizing integrated assessment models, such as the ICLIPS model.