Climate variability and change pose significant economic, food security, and environmental risks worldwide. Drought, storms with heavy rain, high winds, flooding, and freeze events cause billions of dollars in losses to the agricultural and natural resources sectors locally in Florida and globally. The Fourth Assessment Report (AR4) of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) predicts that by the year 2100 global average temperature is likely to increase by 1.1 to 6.4°C (2 to 11.5°F), global mean sea level will rise from 0.18 to 0.59 m (7 to 23 inches), and increases in precipitation intensity and variability will increase the risk of both flooding and drought. The IPCC AR4 also states that many regions will experience considerable deviations from the global averages and there is tremendous uncertainty regarding the regional and local impacts of global changes. Some regions will warm more than the global average while others will warm less or even cool.
Much of the climate change information communicated to the public is based on IPCC projections that are both at the global level and relatively long-term (50 to 100 years). However, many climate stakeholders, including policy makers, farmers, and the public, also need information at local to regional levels and at shorter time scales. Climate stakeholders want reliable, scientifically-sound, region-specific climate information at multiple time scales to help evaluate various options for climate change adaptation and mitigation.
The Florida Climate Institute (FCI) fosters interdisciplinary research, education, and extension to:
- Improve our understanding and the impact of climate variability, climate change, and sea level rise on the economy, ecosystems, and human-built systems;
- Develop technologies and information for creating opportunities and policies that reduce economic and environmental risks; and
- Engage society in research, extension and education programs for enhancing adaptive capacity and responses to associated climatic risks.
To address the needs of climate stakeholders, the FCI will:
- Develop and disseminate climate change and climate variability scenarios and datasets.
- Use climate change information to build resiliency and adaptive capacity at a variety of spatial scales.
- Enhance understanding of the interrelationships among climate, natural resources, ecosystems, and society.
- Develop improved methods, technologies, and decision support systems for addressing risks and opportunities that arise from climate variability and climate change.
- Promote and support effective partnerships between universities and stakeholders.
- Disseminate science-based information on regional climate change and associated societal response options to a diverse audience.