About TRAC3

Interest in adaptation is increasing as global average temperatures continue to rise and impacts of climate change intensify risks to communities around the world. With adaptation action being reported at different levels of jurisdiction and in different contexts, case studies and small comparative studies are providing valuable first steps in building a deep contextual understanding of climate change adaptation.

Our global picture of adaptation remains, however, fragmented and preliminary. Questions are emerging that require new and innovative approaches to studying adaptation: How is adaptation progress taking place globally? Is society adapting more than previously? What factors explain differences in adaptation progress across countries? Which variables explain how countries have arranged their governance of adaptation? Have investments in concrete adaptation policies been legitimate and effective? How does adaptation policy perform and change over time?

TRAC3 was created to facilitate new collaborations that address conceptual, methodological, and practical challenges associated with tracking progress on adaptation.

Conceptual: Tracking and comparing adaptation is challenging because the concept of adaptation is unclear and indistinctive. Some policies and programs are explicitly framed as adaptation yet contribute little to resolving challenges inherent in adaptation planning and implementation, while others are reducing vulnerability to climate variability but are not labelled “adaptation.”  These challenges require disentangling the meaning of adaptation and its key components, as well as identifying proper measurement indicators.

Methodological: Tracking adaptation requires going beyond the descriptive and contextualized in search of approaches for standardization by developing indicators and proxies, testing hypotheses, identifying predictors of adaptation action, and constructing a baseline for analysis. These methods are well-developed in other areas of policy analysis but are rarely applied in adaptation research. Advancing our understanding of adaptation progress requires the considered application of these methods in adaptation research.

Empirical: Existing data on adaptation is often limited, too broad, or insufficiently tailored for longitudinal studies of adaptation or hypothesis-testing. Additionally, adaptation datasets tend to be overly static, capturing only a small timeframe whereas tracking needs a strong temporal dimension. The application of systematic data collection techniques provide opportunities to build comprehensive adaptation datasets that support more complex research designs. This is a key area of development for TRAC3.

To find out more about TRAC3’s current work, visit our research page.