Uncertainty and climate change adaptation: a systematic review of research approaches and people’s decision-making

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Purpose of Review
This review (1) describes the intersecting literature on climate change adaptation (CCA) and uncertainty (N= 562), and (2) synthesizes the findings of empirical studies about decision-maker uncertainty (n = 97).
Recent Findings
Uncertainty can be a barrier to adaptation, yet it is most often studied in relation to the scientific process, while uncertainties in people’s decision-making and their impact on CCA are less studied.
Despite the predominance of scientific uncertainties (52%), we see an upward-trend in studies of decision-making uncertainty (24%), and in combining natural and social sciences approaches (24%). Multiple sources of uncertainty influence CCA decisions besides climate trends, and their saliency and people’s responses vary depending on the role/function of the decision-maker and the timeframe of the decision. Concerns involve situational uncertainties, response options, and their consequences. Decision-makers are more likely to incorporate uncertainties in their adaptation decisions than suppress them or delay action, although the response is sensitive to the type of information sought and timeframes.
Original languageEnglish
JournalCurrent Climate Change Reports
Pages (from-to)1-26
Number of pages26
Publication statusPublished - 2023

ID: 337289020