Adaptation to climate change is becoming a prominent issue in both landscape research and land-use planning. Current research focuses mainly on the description of potential impacts for different societal sectors and in general fails to provide useful information to help define climate adaptation strategies and specific policy measures or development plans. This editorial briefly explores the reasons why this may be the case and proposes a conceptual framework for more effective climate adaptation research. Furthermore, it introduces three papers that address adaptation of landscape systems to climate change as an integrated multi-level challenge. The included papers focus on the relationship between climate-induced changes in the natural system and the economics-oriented societal system and specifically address the interdependencies across scales. © 2012 The Author(s).