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Goulburn Broken Catchment Management Strategy

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Climate change strategies and plans

3.3 Assessment of climate change vulnerability and adaptation priority

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The assessment of the vulnerability of the Catchment’s natural resources to climate change and adaptation priority reflects four main attributes (see figure 3):

  1. Exposure: the extent to which a system or entity experiences climatic conditions that may cause damage or alter landscape or ecological processes.
  2. Sensitivity: the extent to which exposure to climate change results in damage or disruption to landscape, ecological or socio-economic processes.
  3. Adaptive capacity: the extent to which a system or entity is able to anticipate and adjust to climate change.
  4. Value: incorporating environmental, social and economic value of wetlands and streams, strategic values associated with native vegetation, consequence of loss for economic infrastructure, economic production and environmental values, financial and economic value of land and presence of drought refuge habitats.

Figure 3: The climate change adaptation prioritisation framework (adapted from Schröter undated by Clifton and Pelikan 2014).

The regional NRM planning framework review and, particularly, the DPSIR analyses, were used, in consultation with regional NRM planning stakeholders, to identify a set of criteria that informed assessments of exposure, sensitivity, adaptive capacity and value. Factors considered in selecting criteria include:

  • Materiality: the extent to which the criterion reflects a significant (or material) form of sensitivity to climate change to which natural resources and landscape processes are sensitive.
  • Differentiation: the extent to which values of the criterion and/or its influence on natural resource assets, SES and landscape processes vary across space.
  • Data availability: the availability of spatial data to represent the criterion or of data from which the criterion may be derived.
  • Confidence: the level of confidence that the criterion will influence vulnerability.

The Tool uses a single climate change scenario in each ‘run’ to incorporate a specific time period, greenhouse gas emissions trajectory and/or global climate model (or ensemble of models) output. Climate scenarios are reflected in the exposure component of the vulnerability assessment. The vulnerability assessment was undertaken for the following three climate change scenarios (Timbal et al. 2015) using a criteria weighting scheme developed in consultation with regional NRM planning stakeholders.

  1. Low climate change: warmer (0.5-1.5°C increase in annual average temperature), with little change in annual average rainfall (-5 to +5% change). This scenario is based on 2030 outputs for the ACCESS 1.0 global climate model under the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 4.5 emissions pathway.
  2. Moderate climate change: hotter (1.5-3.0°C increase in annual average temperature) and drier (5-15% reduction in annual average rainfall). This scenario is based on 2050 outputs for the GFDL ESM2M global climate model under the RCP 4.5 emissions pathway.
  3. High climate change: much hotter (>3.0°C increase in annual average temperature) and much drier (>15% reduction in annual average rainfall). This scenario is based on 2070 outputs for the GFDL ESM2M global climate model under the RCP 8.5 emissions pathway.

Data representing the scenarios was provided by CSIRO under its Climate Change Projections for Australia’s Natural Resource Management Regions project (Timbal et al. 2015), based on modelling undertaken for the Fifth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (2013).

The overall scoring for vulnerability and value criteria was used to identify two forms of priorities: those for planned adaptation and those for semi-autonomous adaptation. Planned adaptation focuses on areas of high value and high vulnerability and should be considered first when developing and implementing management programs to mitigate vulnerability to climate change. Semi-autonomous adaptation areas have high value but lower vulnerability under current tenure and management.