Design and implementation of effective climate change adaptation activities requires quantitative assessment of the impacts that are likely to occur without adaptation, as well as the fraction of impact that can be avoided through each activity. Here we present a quantitative framework inspired by the greenhouse gas stabilization wedges of Pacala and Socolow. In our proposed framework, the damage avoided by each adaptation activity creates an 'adaptation wedge' relative to the loss that would occur without that adaptation activity. We use premium winegrape suitability in the western United States as an illustrative case study, focusing on the near-term period that covers the years 2000–39. We find that the projected warming over this period results in the loss of suitable winegrape area throughout much of California, including most counties in the high-value North Coast and Central Coast regions. However, in quantifying adaptation wedges for individual high-value counties, we find that a large adaptation wedge can be captured by increasing the severe heat tolerance, including elimination of the 50% loss projected by the end of the 2030–9 period in the North Coast region, and reduction of the projected loss in the Central Coast region from 30% to less than 15%. Increased severe heat tolerance can capture an even larger adaptation wedge in the Pacific Northwest, including conversion of a projected loss of more than 30% in the Columbia Valley region of Washington to a projected gain of more than 150%. We also find that warming projected over the near-term decades has the potential to alter the quality of winegrapes produced in the western US, and we discuss potential actions that could create adaptation wedges given these potential changes in quality. While the present effort represents an initial exploration of one aspect of one industry, the climate adaptation wedge framework could be used to quantitatively evaluate the opportunities and limits of climate adaptation within and across a broad range of natural and human systems.
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