1. Introduction 4. Output
2. Aim 5. Material and preparation
3. Input data 6. Exercise instructions


Understanding how various climatic parameters might change in the future is vital for assessing vulnerability to climate change and facilitating identification of the main challenges and chances that could result. In this exercise you will focus on the causes of climatic stress, i.e., the risks that your local area is facing. The most critical of these climatic stressors will be included in the vulnerability assessment and, consequently, will relate to the major challenges that you need to handle.

The exercise will make use of any climate change information you have gathered related to your local area or economic sector. You will also use the identification of significant challenges and chances you already identified in Exercise C -Challenges and chances generated by climate change. Based on the material you have collected, you will add climatic stressors to a list of suggested climatic stressors. From this list you will select those that are and will be the most relevant ones related to climate change for your local area or economic sector.

Important issues to illuminate are:

how much (magnitude),
how often (frequency),
for how long (duration), and
where (spatial extent) these climatic stressors may occur.

The more you know about how climate change might potentially affect your local area or economic sector, the more fully you can complete this exercise. To guide you, check the internet and national meteorological institutes for information on climate change. In BalticClimate, a support material containing scenarios for some key parameters has been prepared by the Swedish Meteorological and Hydrological Institute.

This exercise is preferably done in tandem with Exercise III – Socio-economic stressor mapping. The outcomes of both exercises will be used when identifying local sensitivity in Exercise IV.


This exercise aims at identifying the most critical climatic stressors and chances that affect vulnerability and adaptation in your target area or economic sector.

Input data

Results from Exercise C - Challenges and chances generated by climate change


1. Top-lists of what you think are the most significant climatic stressors and chances for your local area or economic sector. N.B. You will not discuss how these changes affect economic activity in your region or certain activities or parts of your economic sector. This will be accomplished in the local sensitivity Exercise IV.

2. Identification of required information or in-depth studies on more specific climatic impacts, stressors or chances generated by climate change in order to assess overall vulnerability. If you have identified knowledge gaps, you should decide how to obtain that knowledge and how to make use of it in your coming work.

Material and preparation

  • Prepare a flipchart sized paper containing a list of suggested climate parameters and climatic impacts (see the left column in Table 1 below). It would be useful if the Process Leader discusses this list and possible additions in advance with some climate experts, if possible and/or consult the synthesis of the IPCC Fourth Assessment Report (IPCC, 2007b). (The table  can be downloaded from the Related files on the right.)

  • The Process Leader should try to connect the discussion about the magnitude of the climate change to the local socio-economic scenario (climate policy) identified in Exercise I. If the group decided on a scenario that is likely to result in high emissions of greenhouse gases and lack climate policies, the magnitude of climate change will be higher and vice versa.

  • The Process Leader should also prepare sheets with the outcome of Exercise C - Challenges and chances generated by climate change.

  • Prepare flipchart sized charts for the top-lists (one for stressors and one for chances). If you work with more than one local area or economic sector, prepare two top-lists for each area/sector.

Table 1. List of climate parameters and impacts, direction of change, level of significance and required information 

Climate parameters and impacts Relevant for our region Direction of change Level of significance Required information
No of cold days         
No of cold nights        
Heat waves (hot extremes)        
Heavy rainfall intensity        
Total precipitation        
Coastal erosion        
Extent of wetlands        
Extreme sea level variation        
Sea level rise        
Snow cover        
Ice cover        
Ground instability        
Spring peak discharge        
Warming of lakes and rivers        
Crop productivity        
Timing of spring events e.g. egg-laying, leafing, planting dates        
Poleward shifts of animals, plants, pests, etc        
Forest fires        
Vectors of infectious diseases        
Spread of pollen species (allergic reactions)        
Fluctuation around freezing point        
Potential extreme events and impacts: 
Extreme sea level rise (>2 m until 2100)        
Prolonged dry spells with extreme heat (+6 ˚C in summer)        
Changed precipitation regime – very heavy rain in summer        
Severe autumn and summer storms        
Aggravated problems with ground instability, especially in hilly areas        
Warmer winters, less snow but increased heavy rain        
Decreased summer rain and higher temperature        
Fewer days in winter with frost        

Exercise instructions

1. The Process Leader presents the exercise.

2. First, you will interpret how different climatic parameters would affect your local area or region (irrespective of if you believe that they will or not).

  • Work through each item on the list in the following manner.

    (1) Work in groups of two for 1-2 min – in so-called Beehives – and discuss whether you think this item is likely to significantly affect your region. It may be helpful to think about how much/strong (magnitude), how often (frequency), for how long (duration), and where (spatial extent) each climate parameter might affect your region. Indicate also in which direction (increasing, no change or decreasing) each item on the list is most likely to change.

    (2) Each beehive presents their choices and motivations to the larger group. Try to get the group to reach an agreement. Record your results in Table 1.

  • You now have a long list of climate parameters that might potentially affect your region. Next, it is time to select what you think are the most significant of these parameters for your region or economic sector. You may wish to discuss each of the items and rank their significance on a scale of 1–7 (Low to High significance). Try to select three potential climate stressors and chances. Put these on your top-lists.

  • Discuss differences and similarities and if you think that any combinations of climatic parameters would be specifically challenging. Take notes of the most important points in the discussion and include this in your documentation.

3. It is also important to identify whether you need additional data on climate change to proceed. This is also important to make your assessment as informed as possible. 

  • For each climate parameter on the top-lists, discuss whether you have sufficient, adequate and robust data. Do you think you will need more data to evaluate how climate change is likely to affect this region or is the information you already have collected sufficient? If not, what is missing? Is it possible and necessary to know more about the magnitude, frequency, duration, and spatial extent of that specific event? If you are lacking data, how will you go about to acquire information to fill this gap?

4. If you have decided to get more data, please try to reassess the information in Table 1. This can be a separate activity for the Process Team.

Back to Exercise I - How might the future society look?    
Go further to Exercise III - Socio-economic stressor mapping