Alpine snow

The Alpine mountains covered in snow.

Pathways to adaptation: positioning Australia to deal effectively with climate change

Flagship research is ensuring that Australia is positioned to deal effectively with the impacts of climate change by providing the scientific knowledge needed to improve our ability to adapt.

  • 8 July 2008 | Updated 30 January 2014

Reducing uncertainty

As awareness grows about the potential impacts of climate change in Australia, demand for more detailed information is also growing.

However, the available toolkit for assessing climate change impacts and adaptation options cannot currently deliver all the required information in a user-friendly form.

Information at practical scales of time and space is needed to ensure that the best policy and adaptation decisions can be made, and practical solutions developed.

With the costs of adaptation activity in the coming decades likely to represent several per cent of GDP, uncoordinated or poorly targeted adaptation could cost the economy severely in inefficiencies, costs of missed opportunities and downside risk.

Information at practical scales of time and space is needed to ensure that the best policy and adaptation decisions can be made, and practical solutions developed.

Flagship research aims to reduce these costs by providing sound scientific knowledge to underpin decision making and the development and implementation of effective adaptation options.

To support this aim, Flagship research is providing:

  • climate projections and predictions, provided in a form that can be easily used in impacts and adaptation studies by other scientists and external users
  • national- and regional-scale social and economic analyses of vulnerabilities and adaptation options
  • analysis of international impacts of climate change and adaptation responses to prepare for effects on Australia through trade, population flows and security.

Researchers are also examining stakeholders’ values and how they affect adaptation decisions and barriers to adaptation.

Research areas

The Flagship will develop a systematic approach to identifying how different types of regions, sectors and communities may respond to climate change at different scales, to provide an evidence base for tailoring research, information and policy to meet specific needs.

Research will focus on four key areas:

  1. Future vulnerabilities – assessing vulnerability and adaptive capacity to identify priorities for adaptation or transformation programs
  2. Future climates - understanding the information needs of different stakeholders and delivering appropriate information on climate variability and change to support adaptation
  3. Future adaptations – understanding how different stakeholders make decisions about adaptation, developing adaptation options suited to different regions and communities, and analysing the benefits of adaptation and key policy actions through modelling
  4. Future drivers - understanding how climate change will affect Australia’s international comparative advantages, and how changes elsewhere in the globe (particularly in the Asia-Pacific) will affect Australia.


The Flagship is working with the National Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility and its growing network of university collaborators, as well as international climate change science agencies in:

  • UK (Tyndall Centre and University College, London)
  • USA (National Center for Atmospheric Research and International Research Institute for Climate and Society)
  • India
  • Asia Pacific.

Find out more about the Climate Adaptation Flagship.