Science & Climate Definitions

Climate Change Adaptation

Climate change adaptation is the adjustments societies or ecosystems make to limit the negative effects of climate change or to take advantage of opportunities provided by a changing climate.

A professor and her student set up an experiment at a local solar farm. (Photo: UC Davis) 

Types of Adaptations

  • Adaptation can range from farmers planting more drought-resistant crops to coastal communities evaluating how to protect infrastructure from rising sea level
  • Redefines where plants and animals can survive, as many organisms cannot relocate or adapt quickly enough when warm or cool conditions change their environment. Other organisms, like some viruses, thrive in the altered habitats and can spread.

Our Future with Rising Temperatures

Tom Tomich, director of the UC Davis Agricultural Sustainability Institute and lead author of The California Nitrogen Assessment, kneels in an alfalfa field. (Photo: Gregory Urquiaga/UC Davis)

Climate change affects societies and ecosystems around the world, and many impacts are expected to increase with rising global temperatures.

While reducing greenhouse gas emissions will be necessary to avoid the worst impacts of climate change, a certain amount of global warming is inevitable, due to the long-lasting nature of greenhouse gases already in the atmosphere, and to heat already stored in the oceans.

Adapting to the changes that are already underway, and preparing for future climate change, can help reduce the risks societies will face from climate change.

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