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The impacts of climate change across the globe: a multi-sectoral assessment

Arnell, N. W.; Brown, S.; Gosling, S. N.; Gottschalk, P.; Hinkel, J.; Huntingford, C.; Lloyd-Hughes, B.; Lowe, J. A.; Nicholls, R. J.; Osborn, T. J.; Osborne, T. M.; Rose, G. A.; Smith, P.; Wheeler, T. R.; Zelazowski, P.


N. W. Arnell

S. Brown

S. N. Gosling

P. Gottschalk

J. Hinkel

C. Huntingford

B. Lloyd-Hughes

J. A. Lowe

R. J. Nicholls

T. J. Osborn

T. M. Osborne

G. A. Rose

P. Smith

T. R. Wheeler

P. Zelazowski


© 2014, The Author(s). The overall global-scale consequences of climate change are dependent on the distribution of impacts across regions, and there are multiple dimensions to these impacts. This paper presents a global assessment of the potential impacts of climate change across several sectors, using a harmonised set of impacts models forced by the same climate and socio-economic scenarios. Indicators of impact cover the water resources, river and coastal flooding, agriculture, natural environment and built environment sectors. Impacts are assessed under four SRES socio-economic and emissions scenarios, and the effects of uncertainty in the projected pattern of climate change are incorporated by constructing climate scenarios from 21 global climate models. There is considerable uncertainty in projected regional impacts across the climate model scenarios, and coherent assessments of impacts across sectors and regions therefore must be based on each model pattern separately; using ensemble means, for example, reduces variability between sectors and indicators. An example narrative assessment is presented in the paper. Under this narrative approximately 1 billion people would be exposed to increased water resources stress, around 450 million people exposed to increased river flooding, and 1.3 million extra people would be flooded in coastal floods each year. Crop productivity would fall in most regions, and residential energy demands would be reduced in most regions because reduced heating demands would offset higher cooling demands. Most of the global impacts on water stress and flooding would be in Asia, but the proportional impacts in the Middle East North Africa region would be larger. By 2050 there are emerging differences in impact between different emissions and socio-economic scenarios even though the changes in temperature and sea level are similar, and these differences are greater in 2080. However, for all the indicators, the range in projected impacts between different climate models is considerably greater than the range between emissions and socio-economic scenarios.


Arnell, N. W., Brown, S., Gosling, S. N., Gottschalk, P., Hinkel, J., Huntingford, C., …Zelazowski, P. (2016). The impacts of climate change across the globe: a multi-sectoral assessment. Climatic Change, 134(3), 457-474.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Oct 16, 2014
Online Publication Date Nov 11, 2014
Publication Date Feb 1, 2016
Deposit Date Feb 4, 2016
Publicly Available Date Feb 4, 2016
Journal Climatic Change
Print ISSN 0165-0009
Electronic ISSN 1573-1480
Publisher Springer Verlag
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Volume 134
Issue 3
Pages 457-474
Keywords Atmospheric Science; Global and Planetary Change
Public URL
Publisher URL


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