Biological and Environmental Research - Earth and Environmental System Sciences
Earth and Environmental System Modeling

Assessing Climate Information in Use Context

Friday, December 14, 2018 - 11:35
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In order to develop scientifically informed adaptation strategies, practitioners require climate change information that can provide actionable insight for a diverse array of applications including city planning, public health, water management, and agricultural contexts. While a large array of climate information is freely available, much of it was not produced with specific decision applications in mind and there is no guarantee that a particular dataset, model, or methodology accurately and reliably represents decision-relevant phenomena at the temporal and spatial scales, timeframes, etc. required by a given decision context. Moreover, there is no agreed-upon means to evaluate climate information fitness in a systematic and comprehensive manner, and further to assess how the diverse methods of producing climate information map onto the growing list of adaptation applications requiring such information. As a result, guidance for practitioners on the application of climate information is sorely lacking despite the potential for misinforming adaptation decisions.

Here we highlight a growing number of efforts that have begun to explicitly consider practitioner needs in the production and evaluation of climate information. A new approach to producing and evaluating climate science is beginning to emerge that is problem focused and goes beyond the current focus on projecting future conditions in regions. The sustained national climate assessment can accelerate this by establishing a trusted and reliable process for providing ongoing evaluation of climate information fitness. Such a process would not only provide guidance to the climate information user community regarding which means of producing climate information are suited to which kinds of adaptation challenges, but could also serve a critical benchmarking function to evaluate progress toward solving the significant scientific and technical challenges to providing actionable information.

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