Successful climate change adaptation

Successful Adaptation: Identifying Effective Process and Outcome Characteristics and Practice-Relevant Metrics

Researchers assisted leading scientists and West Coast adaptation practitioners in developing guidelines and potential metrics for measuring successful adaptation to climate change in coastal communities.

Principal Investigator

Amy Snover (Washington lead), University of Washington, Climate Impacts Group

Co-Principal Investigators

Pamela Matson (Regional Lead), Stanford University


With support from the West Coast Sea Grant programs, researchers assembled leading scientists and adaptation practitioners to develop insight into what successful adaptation to climate change means in the various physical, ecological, socioeconomic, institutional, and cultural contexts that characterize coastal communities. They also suggested ways that communities can measure their progress toward adaptation, both in the near term and as the climate continues to change. Researchers synthesized current thinking on adaptation success from the published literature and led workshops with scientists and practitioners, examining successful adaptation principles, outcomes, and processes.

Research Updates

With support from the West Coast Sea Grant programs, researchers completed a years-long project developing guidance on the characteristics of successful adaptation in the coastal environment in terms of both outcomes and of processes, governance and social mechanisms. They brought leading scientists and practitioners together and synthesized insights from workshops, interviews, policy and planning documents and the scientific literature.

The synthesis yielded a framework for evaluating specific climate-resilience efforts based on the key characteristics of multiple dimensions of success. It included strategies for developing indicators and metrics for measuring success. The framework was tested by researchers in multiple training sessions for state environmental, health and resource officials, and it is now widely employed in regional discussions of climate change adaptation.