Climatic impacts of adaptation measures

Climatic impacts of adaptation measures – exploring atmosphere, land and society interactions in Africa

Adaptation to climate change impacts is considered a necessary societal response to climate change alongside with the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions (IPCC 2007). Impacts of climate change will pose numerous challenges to societies and ecosystems across the globe, changing the interactions between the atmosphere, land use and society. Ecosystem-based adaptation refers to adaptation that uses natural capital to reduce climate change exposure and maintain ecosystem resilience. In terms of outcomes, ecosystem-based adaptation can also have co-benefits to mitigation, protection of livelihoods and poverty alleviation.

However, so far little is known about the ways in which ecosystem-based adaptation influences the atmosphere and land. In addition, little is known how ecosystem-based approaches influence the livelihoods of the societies that undertake them. iLEAPS (Integrated Land Ecosystem – Atmosphere Processes Study), the land-atmosphere interactions core project of IGBP, is planning a new regional node in Africa with the aim of launching local and regional studies on African sustainable development themes jointly with other Global Environmental Change core projects. One of the first projects planned is “Climatic impacts of adaptation measures”. Although a lot of research has been done to find both economical and agricultural adaptation solutions for climate change impacts in developing countries and many approaches, such as Randomised Controlled Trials, are used to find out the best ways to solve local and regional problems, what has often been overlooked is that these solutions could also have a mitigating effect on climate change or on other environmental problems locally or in the region. In recent years, groups like the MIT Poverty Action Lab have built a huge network of researchers and projects looking at on-the-ground research (, looking at strategies to improve agricultural productivity and hindrances in the way of adopting such strategies; but the climatic influence of these strategies needs further study, as do the interactions of these climatic effects and the local and regional climate and environment.

In general, this initiative will concentrate on the bi-directional interaction of climate and global change and adaptive measures. Measures that are on a sufficiently large scale can have a significant influence on local and regional climate, biodiversity, and other environmental issues. A good example are "green belts" planted along coastlines in, for example, Sri Lanka and Vietnam, to fight the influence of drought, flood risks, strong salty winds coming from the ocean, and erosion. Such projects are often locally co-designed in collaboration with local governments and stakeholders, but the scientific dimension that would look at long-term influence of dams, green belts, crop changes and other solutions on local and regional micrometeorology, biodiversity, carbon fixation and nitrogen cycling is what the proposed project would set out to contribute.

The research priorities of this initiative include understanding the complex dynamics among human and natural and managed, agricultural or forest ecosystems; relationships between human welfare, the environment, and food production; and the costs of sustainable production of food, water, and energy in the changing climate. The project will start with a regional workshop in Nairobi, Kenya, in spring 2015 to identify high priority issues relevant to the local communities and to local and regional climate, environment, and biodiversity. iLEAPS will adopt an issue-linking strategy: e.g., how can we do something about climate change by introducing measures to that will improve, for instance, air quality on a short notice and locally, but as an additional advantage also help in mitigating climate change: win-win situations. Another important focus for the initiative and the first workshop are education programs/activities to introduce the local scientists in important land-atmosphere-society interactions in the region, such as land use changes and air quality or the link between the hydrological cycle, irrigation, and climate change, for example.

iLEAPS is proposing this initiative to be conducted jointly with other Global Environmental Change core projects, such as WCRP-GEWEX and WCRP-CORDEX, and with the joint iLEAPS-GLP initiative IMECS (Interactions among Managed Ecosystems, Climate, and Societies) and the joint iLEAPS-IGAC initiative IBBI (International Biomass Burning Initiative). The initiative and the first workshop would bring together these scientific organisations and the local and regional adaptation community and socioeconomic dimension. Workshop themes will include topics such as adaptation measures, agroforestry, green belts, agricultural and forestry development strategies and other human activities with influence on land-atmosphere interactions.

The Climatic impacts of adaptation measures group in iLEAPS:

Tanja Suni
iLEAPS International Project Office
Division of Atmospheric Sciences
Department of Physics
University of Helsinki

Petri Pellikka
Department of Geosciences and Geography
University of Helsinki

Sirkku Juhola
Department of Environmental Sciences
University of Helsinki

Markus Reichstein
Department of Biogeochemical Integration
Max Planck Institute for Biogeochemistry
Munich, Germany

Paulo Artaxo
Department of Applied Physics
University of São Paulo

Laurens Ganzeveld
Earth System Science - Climate Change group
Wageningen University
the Netherlands


Tanja Suni
iLEAPS Executive Officer