Adapting to climate change

Adapting water and energy infrastructure to climate change

According to the UN, many causes of poverty in developing countries are made worse by climate change. Adapting to the threats posed is challenging and, to ensure ongoing sustainable and equitable development in these countries, support with the process of adaptation is essential.

Our research into climate risk analysis and novel adaptation frameworks is helping organisations worldwide – spanning the energy and water sectors as well as Multilateral Development Banks (MDBs) – to plan for and adapt to the many challenges posed by climate change.

Image courtesy of Robert Wilby
Nurek Dam, Tajikistan, feeds a 3GW hydropower
plant - 
the largest facility of its kind in Central Asia

Our impact

Enhancing global infrastructure

  • We provided guidance on designing new hydropower, affordable housing, and transport infrastructure investments in Asia
  • We have supported the improvement of Tajikistan's energy sector's adaptive capacity
  • Our work calculated the safety margins for testing coastal flood defences against sea level rise at a proposed nuclear power plant in the UK

Expert technical advice

  • We have provided expert technical advice to a range of organsiations including the Committee on Climate Change (informing three UK Climate Change Risk Assessments), the World Bank and International Fund for Agricultural Development on climate adaptation in Yemen, and the UN Environment Program Finance Initiative working group

New climate adaptation policies and procedures

The research

Our research into climate risk management (CRM) and the development of tools to create regional climate change scenarios began in 2008.

In contrast to current practice, our approach first assembles a portfolio of adaptation measures and evaluates them under a range of plausible future climate conditions.

A key advantage of this approach is that climate storylines and adaptation objectives are co-designed with practitioners, so a shared understanding of system vulnerabilities emerges. It also provides ‘scenario-neutral’ adaptation outcomes that are valid regardless of ongoing climate model developments. In addition, it is less resource-demanding than conventional frameworks.

Our climate scenario tool – the Statistical DownScaling Model (SDSM) – performed well in trials with various partners and has since been widely adopted.

SDSM continues to evolve, and the latest version can infill missing weather information in broken meteorological records and provide extreme value estimates for rare weather events.

By developing smarter approaches to climate risk assessment and decision-making, we are helping to protect critical infrastructure developments around the world - despite deep uncertainty about the future impacts of climate change.

Research funders

  • EDF Energy
  • NERC

Development partners

Meet the experts

Photograph of Robert Wilby

Professor Rob Wilby

Professor of Hydroclimatic Modelling