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Publication Date
1 November 2022

A New Framework to Facilitate Identification and Communication of Climatic Conditions Affecting Human and Natural Systems

The new concept of climatic impact-driver and a rigorous systematization of types and categories is proposed to facilitate the transfer of information between science communities.
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The concept of hazard has long been utilized within the risk framework to label climatic phenomena and conditions conducive to impacts. This article proposes a more neutral and systematic set of definitions and categorizations that amount to a novel framework, that of “climatic impact-drivers”, (CIDs). By adopting this framework, the identification and production of a more neutral and demand-driven type of climate information is facilitated. Its relevance/saliency for stakeholders is enhanced, and the value of bottom-up coproduction is underscored.

CIDs are first defined through seven types (Heat and Cold, Wet and Dry, Wind, Snow and Ice, Coastal, Open Ocean, and a residual type, “Other”), then further qualified by a number of categories within each type (for example, the Heat and Cold type is divided into Mean air temperature, Extreme Heat, Cold spells, and Frost). For each of the categories, the application will suggest or dictate specific metrics that impact and are decision-relevant, like different definitions for a heat wave, or different metrics measuring heat stress, etc.


This type of framework organized the assessment of impact-relevant climatic changes in the IPCC WG1 AR6 report (The Physical Science basis) in order to facilitate the transfer of information to the sectoral chapters in WG2 (Impacts, Adaptation, Vulnerability). It is also expected that this framework will guide the development of relevant climate information for use by stakeholders. The framework can also help prioritize model development by identifying phenomena and variables of large importance for sectoral impacts in a systematized way.


A new, more neutral framework for defining impact-relevant climate conditions is developed. The framework is systematic enough to be applicable to different regions and sectors, but intrinsically flexible to allow bottom-up, demand-driven development of relevant information when physical climate scientists, impact researchers and stakeholders come together. It can be valuable for regional, national, and international assessment but also aid local decision-making. 

Point of Contact
Claudia Tebaldi
Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
Funding Program Area(s)