Climatic Change

, Volume 36, Issue 1–2, pp 185–196 | Cite as

VULNERABILITY AND ADAPTIVE RESPONSE IN THE CONTEXT OF CLIMATE AND CLIMATE CHANGE

  • Ian Burton
Article

Abstract

The paper explores the distinction between climate and climate change. Adaptation to current climate variability has been proposed as an additional way to approach adaptation to long-term climate change. In effect improved adaptation to current climate is a step in preparation for longer term climate change. International programs of research and assessment are separately organized to deal with natural disasters and climate change. There is no scientific concensus so far, that extreme events have changed in frequency on a world-wide basis, although some regional changes have occured. It is extremely unlikely that significant shifts in the means of weather distrbutions will take place without shifts in the tails. In some situations it may make more sense to focus on adaptation to extreme events and the tails of distributions. In other circumstances adaptation to the norms is the logical focus. The relationship between normal climate and climate change is examined in terms of single and complex variables and phenomena. It is proposed that the research communities studying adaptation to extreme events and adaptation to climate change work more closely together, perhaps in a newly organized joint research program.

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Copyright information

© Kluwer Academic Publishers 1997

Authors and Affiliations

  • Ian Burton
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.Environmental Adaptation Research Group, Institute for Environmental StudiesUniversity of TorontoCanada; and
  2. 2.Scientist Emeritus, Atmospheric Environment ServiceEnvironment CanadaDownsviewCanada

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