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Adaptation to


of Climate Change

Vulnerability of society to environmental change has put “adaptation” in the frontline of climate policy. Both policy and research communities have been focusing on adapting to some specified amount of climate change and not specified rates of change. For example, the Fifth Assessment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) estimates that global mean sea-level rise will be between 26 and 98 cm by 2100 compare to observed levels in 2005. The adaptation studies cited by IPCC use these amounts of sea level rise, rather than the implied rates of sea level rise, to assess impacts on ecosystems and human populations. 

Despite efforts to limit the amount of climate change, it is becoming increasingly clear that anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions are likely to continue causing Earth to warm for some time into the future. Therefore, we are likely to find ourselves in the position of needing to adapt to a moving target – adapting to a rate of climate change and not simply an amount of climate change.  Embracing this notion will have profound impacts on the evaluation of adaptation policies. 


In this project supervised by Dr. Ken Caldeira from Carnegie Institution for Science and in collaboration with Dr. Juan Moreno-Cruz from Georgia institute of Technology, we considered a stylized example of unit investment in the face of ongoing sea level rise and compared different adaptation strategies based on the net present value of return on investment.



1.    Shayegh S., Caldeira K., Moreno-Cruz J. “Adapting to Rates of Climate Change”, Environmental Research Letters, 2016



1.    Shayegh S., Caldeira K., Moreno-Cruz J. “Engaging a moving target: Adapting to rates of climate change", American Geophysical Union, 2015

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