A quarter of a century has already passed since global warming due to industrial activities was noted. The response heretofore has been mainly to hold discussions on saving energy and on regulating emissions of greenhouse gases such as carbon dioxide. Now we are beginning to see the frequent occurrence of concentrated heavy rainfall, large typhoons, and the flooding that goes along with those. We have reached the point where it is necessary to devise specific answers to questions such as “how high should the levees be?” and “how strong should houses and high-rise buildings be to withstand the wind?, ”for the adaptation strategies for global warming.

The major mission of the Program for Risk Information on Climate Change is to further boost the basic technology for climate change projection, predict the probability of the occurrence of extreme concentrated heavy rainfall, etc., and conduct the risk evaluation research of the associated damage.

Program Director (PD)  Akimasa Sumi (special advisor to MEXT)
President, National Institute for Environmental Studies (NIES)

Themes constructed in a nested fashion

This research program is arranged with a multilayered structure. Theme A is the lowest-level layer. On top of that is Theme B, followed by Theme C and Theme D.

Theme A focuses on the development of the basic model that is the basis of this program. In this program’s precursor, the Innovative Program of Climate Change Projection for the 21st Century, research on the basic model was also driving the overall program, but in the current program, we aim to strengthen the basic model itself and to add more advanced functions.

Theme B has a sibling relationship with Theme A. It adds elements such as the environmental biogeochemical cycles and biological activity to the basic model, develops a more detailed earth system model, and studies target levels for stabilization of the climate.

The aim of Theme C is to extract more detailed prediction information and to describe the “conceivable scenario” including the probability of a particular scenario occurring, such as Isewan Typhoon (Typhoon Vera). In response, Theme D aims to produce risk projections and assessments to provide adaptation to minimize the impact to natural hazards, water resources and ecosystem and biodiversity under climate change.


What are needed are scientific grounds and reliability

We are already at the point of no return with regard to global warming, but when it comes to “climate change risk,” its perceived seriousness varies greatly depending on one’s generation and location. For instance, having experienced the tsunami and the nuclear accident following the Great East Japan Earthquake, we in Japan understand that even a disaster with the extremely small probability of “once in 1,000 years” causing exceedingly massive damage may actually occur.

In order to take specific action under the current difficult circumstances which include a declining birthrate, an aging society, and less-than-abundant funds, we must have reliable risk assessments based on scientific grounds. Those of us involved in this project intend to scientifically question and ascertain the matters which seem certain and the matters which are still not well understood. We are pushing forward with research to obtain reliable results that will serve as grounds for every person to think and make decisions.