Forty-nine countries participating in the U.S. Country Studies Program (USCSP) assessed climate change impacts in one or more of eight sectors: coastal resources, agriculture, grasslands/livestock, water resources, forests, fisheries, wildlife, and health. The studies were generally limited to analysis of first order biophysical effects, e.g., coastal inundation, crop yield, and runoff changes. There were some limited studies of adaptation. We review and synthesize the results of the impact assessments conducted under the USCSP. The studies found that sea level rise could cause substantial inundation and erosion of valuable lands, but, protecting developed areas would be economically sound. The studies showed mixed results for changes in crop yields, with a tendency toward decreased yields in African and Asian countries, particularly southern Asian countries, and mixed results in European and Latin American countries. Adaptation could significantly affect yields, but it is not clear whether the adaptations are affordable or feasible. The studies tend to show a high sensitivity of runoff to climate change, which could result in increases in droughts or floods. The impacts on grasslands and livestock are mixed, but there appears to be a large capacity for adaptation. Human health problems could increase, particularly for populations in low-latitude countries with inadequate access to health care. The USCSP assessments found that the composition of forests is likely to change, while biomass could be reduced. Some wildlife species were estimated to have reduced populations. The major contribution of the USCSP was in building capacity in developing countries to assess potential climate impacts. However, many of the studies did not analyze the implications of biophysical impacts of climate change on socioeconomic conditions, cross-sectoral integration of impacts, autonomous adaptation, or proactive adaptation. Follow-on work should attempt to develop capacity in developing and transition countries to conduct more integrated studies of climate change impacts.

Author names: 
Smith, J. B.
Lazo, J. K.

Smith, J. B., & Lazo, J. K. (2001). A Summary of Climate Change Impact Assessments from the U.S. Country Studies Program. Climatic Change, 50(1-2), 1–29. doi:10.1023/a:1010642529072

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