Climate Change

IPCC Working Group II

July 30, 2012, 2:42 pm
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IPCC Working Group II assesses the vulnerability of socio-economic and natural systems to climate change, negative and positive consequences of climate change, and options for adapting to it for the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). It is responsible for producing reports as part of IPCC's multi-volume Assessments. IPCC Assessments with Working Group II reports were released in 1990, 1995, 2001, and 2007. The next Working Group II report (for Assessment Report 5 or "AR5") is scheduled to be finalized in mid March 2014. IPCC Working Group II is composed of an international group of scientists.Writing team membership for the Working Group II contribution to the AR5 consists of 302 Coordinating Lead Authors, Lead Authors, and Review Editors.

The reports of IPCC Working Groups have been among the most influential scientific reports on climate change


The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) was established in 1988 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) and United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to assess scientific, technical and socio-economic information relevant for the understanding of climate change, its potential impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation. It is open to all Members of the United Nations and the WMO.

The IPCC work is shared among three Working Groups (Working Group I, Working Group II, and Working Group III), a Task Force (Task Force on National Greenhouse Gas Inventories) and a Task Group (Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impacts and Climate Analysis). The activities of each Working Group and of the Task Force are coordinated and administrated by a Technical Support Unit.

In its reports, Working Group II assesses the scientific, technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the vulnerability, sensitivity and adaptability to climate change of, and the negative and positive consequences for, ecological systems, socio-economic sectors and human health, with an emphasis on regional sectoral and cross-sectoral issues.  Their work is supported by a central IPCC Secretariat, whose role is to plan, coordinate and oversee all IPCC activities.

Working Group II Bureau

Working with the Bureau of the other working groups, the Task Force, the Task Group, and the IPCC Chair and vice-chairs, the WG II Bureau selects the authors' teams for Reports and assist Co-Chairs through the preparation of Reports.  Their mandate normally corresponds to the duration of an Assessment cycle (5-6 years).

The WG II is run by two co-chairs and six vice-chairs, making up the bureau.  Currently, the co-chair seats are held by Christopher Field (USA) and Vicente Barros (Argentina).  The vice-chairs are held by Nirivololona Raholijao (Madagascar), Amjad Abdulla (Maldives), Eduardo Calvo Buendia (Peru), Neville Smith (Australia), Jose M. Moreno (Spain), and Sergey Semenov (Russian Federation).

Assessment Reports

First Assessment Report (1990)

The Contribution of Working Group II to the First Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was "Climate Change: The IPCC Impacts Assessment (1990)"

1992 Supplement

In 1992, Working Group II released "Climate Change 1992: The Supplementary Report to the IPCC Impacts Assessment"

Second Assessment Report (1995)

The Contribution of Working Group II to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was "Climate Change 1995: Impacts, Adaptations and Mitigation of Climate Change: Scientific-Technical Analyses" Full Report (PDF)

Third Assessment Report (2001)

The Contribution of Working Group II to the Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change was "Climate Change 2001: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability"

Fourth Assessment Report (2007)

The Contribution of Working Group II to the Fourth Assessment Report was "Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability"

Following the publication of Climate Change 2007: Impacts, Adaptation and Vulnerability a number of contraversies arose about a number of specific assertions made in the report about particular impacts. IPCC responded to these questions with a number of statements, including a list of errata and corrections to the Working Group II contribution to the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report:


Fifth Assessment Report

The WG II has made significant contributions to all the IPCC Assessment Reports, which is a collaborrative effort between all the IPCC groups and task forces.  For the Fifth Assessment Report (AR5), which is set to be released in March 2014, the outline of the Working Group II contribution, "Climate Change 2013: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability" will have the following outline:

Part A. Global and Sectoral Aspects:

Context for AR5

Chapter 1 - Point of departure: the setting, major conclusions of WGII AR4, major conclusions of WGI AR5, and conclusions of the special reports

Chapter 2 - Foundations for decisionmaking: key concepts, impacts, adaptation and vulnerabilities on a range of scales, assessing those impacts, risks and vulnerabilities, managing risks

Natural and managed Resources and Systems, and their Uses

Chapter 3 - Freshwater Resources: diversity of world water resources and their sensitivity to climate change, interactions among water resources, human activities, and the built environment, and water management, water security, and sustainable development

Chapter 4 - Terrestial and inland water systems: diversity of world ecosystems and their sensitivities to climate change, intensively managed systems: forestry, fiber, and fuel production, wildlands and extensively managed systems, protected and conservation areas, ecosystem services and their interactions with other ecosystems, vulnerability of carbon pools, bio-energy implications, and carbon management potentials, and threats to human activities, infrastructure, and biodiversity.

Chapter 5 - Coastal systems and low-lying areas: diversity of world ecosystems and their sensitivities to climate change, ecosystem services, interactions among ecosystems, human activities, and the built environment, and sea-level rise.

Chapter 6 - Ocean systems: diversity of world ecosystems and their sensitivities to climate change, ecosystem services, water property changes, interactions between ecosystems and human activities, and threats to human activities and biodiversity.

Chapter 7 - Food production systems and food security: food production: farming, livestock, and fisheries and their sensitivities to climate; food systems: processing, distribution, and access; and food security and the means to achieve it.

Human Settlements, Industry, and Infrastructure

Chapter 8 - Urban Areas: urbanization processes, sustainable habitats, and climate change risks, urban micro-climates, civic services and infrastructure, housing and settlements, economic base, development plans and development pathways, urban planning, management, and governance, and landscape and regional interconnections.

Chapter 9 - Rural Areas: landscape and regional interconnections (including migration), housing and settlements,economic base and livelihoods, infrastructure, and social capital and resilience.

Chapter 10 - Key economic sectors and services: networked infrastructure (including transportation, energy, water, and sanitation), industry and manufacturing, tourism, social and other economic services, and market impacts (supply chains, systemic risks, and insurance).

Human Health, Well-being, and Security

Chapter 11 - Human health: determinants of health: current and future trends, health outcomes and their sensitivity to climate change, extreme events, air quality, foodborne and waterborne diseases, vectorborne and zoonotic diseases, malnutrition, water quality, children and other vulnerable populations, and health inequalities based on gender and marginalized populations.

Chapter 12 - Human security: social and economic activities, education, inequalities in gender and marginalized populations, culture, values, indigenous peoples, local communities, local and traditional knowledge, migration and population displacement, conflict, and community resilience.

Chapter 13 - Livelihoods and poverty: chronic and transient poverty, effects of climate change responses on poverty, interactions between climate change and poverty-reduction initiatives, and inequalities in gender and marginalized populations.


Chapter 14 - Adaptation needs and options: synthesis of adaptation needs and options, international, national, and sectoral assessments, measuring adaptation, and addressing maladaptation

Chapter 15 - Adaptation planning and implementation: local, national, regional, and global strategies, policies, and initiatives, technology development, transfer, and diffusion, financing for adaptation, insurance and social protection, knowledge sharing, learning, and capacity building, institutional arrangements: public- and private-sector stakeholders and priorities, links between adaptation and development, decision support tools and methods, and adaptation status and indicators.

Chapter 16 - Adaptation opportunities, constraints, and limits: cross-sectoral synthesis, limits to adaptation, including ethical dimensions and resources, interactions among limits, effects of alternative mitigation pathways on adaptation, and ancillary social and ecological effects of adaptation.

Chapter 17 - Economics of adaptation: adaptation costs and benefits at global, national, sectoral, and local levels, inter-relationships between adaptation costs and residual damage, economic instruments to provide incentives, using market-based approaches for adaptation decisionmaking, and ancillary economic effects.

Multi-Sector Impacts, Risks, Vulnerabilities, and Opportunities

Chapter 18 - Detection and attribution of observed impacts: integration of observed impacts across sectors and regions, and attribution of observed impacts across sectors and regions.

Chapter 19 - Emergent risks and key vulnerabilities: multiple interacting systems and stresses, indirect impacts, transboundary impacts, and impacts over longer distances, and key vulnerabilities, aggregate impacts, thresholds, irreversible changes, and reasons for concern.

Chapter 20 - Climate-resilient pathways: adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development: multi-metric valuation, ecosystem services and biodiversity threats, consumption patterns, lifestyles, behavior, culture, education, and awareness, human well-being, and adaptation, mitigation, and sustainable development.

Part B. Regional Aspects

Chapter 21 - Regional context: information on observed climate changes and relevant non-climate factors, regional projections: added value and limitations, similarities and pertinent differences in systems across regions, and cross-regional hotspots.

Regional Chapters:

Chapter 21 - Africa

Chapter 22 - Europe

Chapter 23 - Asia

Chapter 24 - Australia

Chapter 25 - North America

Chapter 26 - Central and South America

Chapter 27 - Polar Regions

Chapter 28 - Small Islands

Chapter 29 - Open Oceans

Listed below are statistics on WGII's writing team:


Summary Statistics

Total Number of Confirmed Writing Team Members: 310

Total Number of Nationalities Represented on Writing Teams: 73

Developing Country and Economy-in-Transition Writing Team Members: 127 (41%)

Female Writing Team Members: 83 (27%)

Writing Team Members New to the IPCC Process: 187 (60%)

Young Scientists Engaged in the Process: 71 (23%)


Special Reports

Working Group II also produces Special Reports, often in response to requests from the Conference of the Parties to the UNFCCC or from other environmental Conventions. They are subject to the same writing, review and approval process as Assessment Reports.

Working Group II is now leading preparation of the Special Report on "Managing the Risks of Extreme Events and Disasters to Advance Climate Change Adaptation" (SREX). SREX considers three types of extreme events: the ones for which climate change has or will amplify occurrence (e.g., floods and droughts); the ones in which trends outside the domain of climate will increase exposure or vulnerability to climate-related extremes (e.g., coastal development increasing exposure to storm surges); and new kinds of potentially hazardous events and conditions that may occur as a result of climate change (e.g., glacial lakes outburst). SREX writing teams focus on climate change and its role in altering the frequency, severity, and impact of extreme events or disasters, and on the costs of both impacts and the actions taken to prepare for, respond to, and recover from extreme events and disasters. The emphasis is on understanding the factors that make people and infrastructure vulnerable to extreme events, on recent and future changes in the relationship between climate change and extremes, and on managing the risks of disasters, over a wide range of spatial and temporal scales. The assessment considers a broad suite of adaptations, ranging from early warning to insurance to altered infrastructure and social safety nets. It also explores the limits to adaptation, the conditions that can transition adaptation into mal-adaptation, and the human and financial consequences of those limits. The assessment is intended to build durable links and foundations for partnerships between the stakeholder communities focused on climate change, adaptation, and disaster risk reduction. The UN International Strategy for Disaster Reduction (ISDR) is involved in the preparation of the report. The Special Report will be released in March 2012.

Further Reading:




Mangino, K. (2012). IPCC Working Group II. Retrieved from


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