Climate impact research: beyond patchwork
Abstract. Despite significant progress in climate impact research, the narratives that science can presently piece together of a 2, 3, 4, or 5 °C warmer world remain fragmentary. Here we briefly review past undertakings to characterise comprehensively and quantify climate impacts based on multi-model approaches. We then report on the Inter-Sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISI-MIP), a community-driven effort to compare impact models across sectors and scales systematically, and to quantify the uncertainties along the chain from greenhouse gas emissions and climate input data to the modelling of climate impacts themselves. We show how ISI-MIP and similar efforts can substantially advance the science relevant to impacts, adaptation and vulnerability, and we outline the steps that need to be taken in order to make the most of the available modelling tools. We discuss pertinent limitations of these methods and how they could be tackled. We argue that it is time to consolidate the current patchwork of impact knowledge through integrated cross-sectoral assessments, and that the climate impact community is now in a favourable position to do so.