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In human systems, the process of adjustment to actual or expected climate and its effects to moderate harm or exploit beneficial opportunities. In natural systems, the process of adjustment to actual climate and its effects; human intervention may facilitate adjustment to expected climate and its effects.

Incremental adaptation. Adaptation that maintains the essence and integrity of a system or process at a given scale. In some cases, incremental adaptation can accrue to result in transformational adaptation.

Transformational adaptation. Adaptation that changes the fundamental attributes of a socio-ecological system in anticipation of climate change and its impacts

Adaptation limits. The point at which an actor’s objectives (or system needs) cannot be secured from intolerable risks through adaptive actions. Hard adaptation limit.: No adaptive actions are possible to avoid intolerable risks. Soft adaptation limit: Options are currently not available to avoid intolerable risks through adaptive action.

Adaptation options. The array of strategies and measures that are available and appropriate for addressing adaptation. They include a wide range of actions that can be categorized as structural, institutional, ecological or behavioural.

Adaptive capacity. The ability of systems, institutions, humans and other organisms to adjust to potential damage, to take advantage of opportunities, or to respond to consequences. This glossary entry builds from definitions used in previous IPCC reports and the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment.

See also: Acclimate, Adaptive capacity and Maladaptive actions (Maladaptation)