NCCARF 2008-2013: The first five years

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The National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility (NCCARF) was established in 2008 to develop and deliver the knowledge needed by decision-makers to effectively adapt Australia to the impacts of climate change.

What is adaptation? In its Fourth Assessment, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) defines it as: … the adjustment in natural or human systems in response to actual or expected climatic stimuli or their effects, which moderates harm or exploits beneficial opportunities.

The severity of climate change impacts, and how much we will have to adapt, will depend on the amount and rate of climate change, which in turn is partially dependent on our success at mitigation. It is increasingly clear that current mitigation efforts will not limit global temperature increases to less than 2ºC – widely accepted as the threshold of ‘dangerous’ climate change, making adaptation essential. Amongst the developed nations, Australia already has one of the most variable climates, and Australians are skilled in managing the impacts of drought, floods, bushfire and cyclones. As a recent example, the summer of 2010–11 was the wettest on record in Victoria and most of southeast Queensland, bringing widespread flood damage estimated to have cost the country in the region of $5.6 billion. But this was not the only severe weather event to affect Australia in 2010–11: wet and humid conditions in south-eastern Australia led to locust plagues, there were bushfires and extreme heat waves in Perth and Sydney, and the Category 5 Cyclone Yasi struck Australia’s north-east coast.

How is future climate change likely to affect Australia? With considerable confidence we can expect that some extreme weather events will become more common, such as heat waves and coastal flooding associated with sea-level rise and storm surge. There is a strong likelihood that severe bushfire-risk days will occur more frequently, associated with hotter weather. In south-west Australia, climate models tell us that the long-term reduction in rainfall, and hence water resources, is probably linked to climate change, and is very likely to persist into the future. Elsewhere, and with less confidence, we can expect droughts and flooding to become more common.

NCCARF is a uniquely Australian response to these current and projected climate change impacts – established by the Australian government to ensure that the nation is properly prepared for the challenge of climate change. NCCARF’s role has been three-fold: first, to identify the most important gaps in our knowledge and understanding about our vulnerabilities to climate change, and the possibilities for adaptation; second, to manage a portfolio of research projects that would address these gaps; and third, to communicate the results from this research to policy makers and other end-users to ensure their decisions about adaptation are based on the best possible information. To undertake these three roles successfully, NCCARF had a fourth role – to evaluate and where necessary develop capacity amongst researchers to carry out adaptation research, and capacity amongst policy makers to effectively utilise research outputs.

 This Final Report describes how NCCARF carried out these four roles between 2008 and 2013, and evaluates the extent to which it was successful in achieving its objectives. It closes with three independent reviews of NCCARF’s activities. A commitment by the incoming Australian government means that NCCARF will receive financial support for a further three years, commencing in the 2014-15 financial year. Lessons identified through the evaluation process will support NCCARF’s operations during this next phase. 

Please cite this report as:
NCCARF 2008-2013: The first five years, 2014, National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility, Gold Coast, 83pp.

ISBN: 978-1-925039-94-8

NCCARF Publication 122/13