End-to-end Quantification of Uncertainty for Impacts Prediction (EQUIP)

Lead Research Organisation: London School of Economics & Pol Sci
Department Name: Centre for the Analysis of Time Series

Abstract

Society is becoming increasingly aware of climate change and its consequences for us. Examples of likely impacts are changes in food production, increases in mortality rates due to heat waves, and changes in our marine environment. Despite such emerging knowledge, precise predictions of future climate are (and will remain) unattainable owing to the fundamental chaotic nature of the climate system and to imperfections in our understanding, our climate simulation models and our observations of the climate system. This situation limits our ability to take effective adaptation actions. However, effective adaptation is still possible, particularly if we assess the level of precision associated with predictions, and thus quantify the risk posed by climate change. Coupled with assessments of the limitations on our knowledge, this approach can be a powerful tool for informing decision makers. Clearly, then, the quantification of uncertainty in the prediction of climate and its impacts is a critical issue. Considerable thought has gone into this issue with regard to climate change research, although a consensus on the best methods is yet to emerge. Climate impacts research, on the other hand, has focussed primarily on a different set of problems: what are the mechanisms through which climate change is likely to affect for example, agriculture and health, and what are the non-climatic influences that also need to be accounted for? Thus the research base for climate impacts is sound, but tends to be less thorough in its quantification of uncertainty than the physical climate change research that supports it. As a result, statements regarding the impacts of climate change often take a less sophisticated approach to risk and uncertainty. The logical next stage for climate impacts research is therefore to learn from the methods used for climate change predictions. Since climate and its impacts both exist within a broader earth system, with many interrelated components, this next stage is not a simple transfer of technology. Rather, it means taking an 'end-to-end' integrated look at climate and its impacts, and assessing risk and uncertainty across whole systems. These systems include not only physical and biological mechanisms, but also the decisions taken by users of climate information. The climate impacts chosen in EQUIP have been chosen to cover this spectrum from end to end. As well as aiding impacts research, end-to-end analyses are also the logical next stage for climate change research, since it is through impacts that society experiences climate change. The project focuses primarily on the next few decades, since this is a timescale of relevance for societies adapting to climate change. It is also a timescale at which our projections of greenhouse gas emissions are relatively well constrained, thus uncertainty is smaller than for, say, the end of the century. Work on longer timescales will also be carried out in order to gain a greater understanding of uncertainty. EQUIP research will build on work to date on the mechanisms and processes that lead to climate change and its impacts, since it is this understanding that forms the basis of predictive power. This knowledge is in the form of observations and experiments (e.g. experiments on crops have demonstrated that even brief episodes of high temperatures near the flowering of the crop can seriously reduce yield) and also simulation models. It is through effective use and combination of climate science and impacts science, and the models used by each community, that we will be able to quantify uncertainty, assess risk, and thus equip society to deal with climate change.
 
Description See summary at URL link below
Exploitation Route tbc
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/ResearchGrants/EQUIP/EQUIP-Leaflet.pdf
 
Description The EQUIP project developed methods for generating predictions of climate and its impacts that carefully quantify uncertainty. Our main foci were crops, heatwaves, droughts and marine ecosystems. We also developed understanding of how to communicate uncertainty better, and how uncertain information should be interpreted and used. Impacts included: Improved quantification of uncertainty EQUIP made both specific methodological advances and broader conclusions on good practice; it highlighted that not all uncertainties are equally important. For example, greenhouse gas emissions are more important than model initial conditions for predicting changes in hot extremes (Hanlon et al., 2013a). We also developed methods to quantify sources of uncertainty, including assessments of which aspects of climate and crop simulation contribute most to predictive uncertainty (Watson and Challinor, 2013). EQUIP identified sources of uncertainty that are often ignored when assessing climate impacts, for example the choice of bias correction method (Hawkins et al., 2013).
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Environment,Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

 
Description ACCCP Capitol Hill Climate Science Day
Geographic Reach North America 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a advisory committee
URL https://www.ametsoc.org/ams/index.cfm/policy/get-involved/participate-in-a-congressional-visits-day/...
 
Description Briefing report: Curation of climate information
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/Resources/CATS-Briefings.aspx
 
Description Briefing report: Implications of expert assessment of climate model (in)adequacy
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/Resources/CATS-Briefings.aspx
 
Description Briefing report: Insights about uncertainty in the Global Calculator
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Influenced training of practitioners or researchers
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/CATS/Resources/CATS-Briefings.aspx
 
Description Climate KIC (funding via DECC)
Amount £60,000 (GBP)
Organisation King's College London 
Department Depression Case Control Study (DeCC)
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 09/2013 
End 08/2015
 
Description Decision Making Under Uncertainty
Amount £329,042 (GBP)
Funding ID EP/P016847/1 
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 12/2018
 
Description EPSRC SECURE Network feasibility studies
Amount £3,000 (GBP)
Organisation Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 06/2016 
End 01/2017
 
Description H2020-SC5-2014-two-stage. Topic: SC5-16-2014
Amount € 248,461 (EUR)
Funding ID EP-210185204 
Organisation European Commission 
Sector Public
Country European Union (EU)
Start 06/2015 
End 05/2019
 
Description HEIF5 bid fund (via LSE)
Amount £50,600 (GBP)
Funding ID 1-RAT-3996 
Organisation Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 02/2017 
End 06/2018
 
Description HEIF5 bid fund (via LSE)
Amount £23,861 (GBP)
Funding ID 1-RAT-3993 
Organisation Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2017 
End 03/2018
 
Description NERC Advanced training/PPSDA
Amount £21,451 (GBP)
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 01/2014
 
Description NERC Pure Assocs (follow on)
Amount £156,684 (GBP)
Funding ID NE/M008304/1 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2014 
End 03/2016
 
Description PURE Associates call
Amount £26,452 (GBP)
Funding ID PA13-036 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2013 
End 05/2014
 
Description PURE Associates call
Amount £28,022 (GBP)
Funding ID PA13-038 
Organisation Natural Environment Research Council 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 11/2013 
End 04/2014
 
Description RNLI Hyper Local Weather Data
Amount £20,000 (GBP)
Organisation Royal National Lifeboat Institution 
Sector Charity/Non Profit
Country United Kingdom
Start 10/2015 
End 11/2016
 
Description Lighthill Risk Network 
Organisation Lighthill Risk Network
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution Professor Smith and CATS have been providing mathematical calculations to answer the insurance sector's questions regarding skill scores, which is hoped will lead to an industry-supported code of good practice
Collaborator Contribution -
Impact The Lighthill Risk Network have provided match-funding for a HEIF5 bid fund award secured by Smith/CATS (see further funding section)
Start Year 2017
 
Description Lloyd's 
Organisation Lloyds Bank
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution Research into the investigation of how probability of geophysical events is used within the insurance sector
Collaborator Contribution -
Impact Two PhDs: one part-funded directly by Lloyd's - 'Examining the decision-relevance of climate model information for the insurance industry', completed in 2011 (the student is now a senior scientists at the Met Office Hadley Centre); and one undertaken by a member of Lloyd's - 'Extreme insurance and the dynamics of risk', completed in 2016. The collaboration with Lloyd's also help Smith/CATS secure further funding (see 'Further funding section - HEIF5 bid fund)
Start Year 2007
 
Description Winton 
Organisation Winton Capital Management
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Private 
PI Contribution CATS (Smith and Stainforth) have contributed to discussions of creating a Climate Prediction Market. Two events on this topic have been held so far - October 2016 and January 2017
Collaborator Contribution As per above
Impact none as yet
Start Year 2016
 
Description ISF 2016 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Leonard Smith gave two talks ('Sculpted Ensembles: exploiting a modern data assimilation technique to enhance early warning of high impact events' and 'Prediction, Projection and Probability: Quantifying uncertain scientific insights regarding the far future') at the 36th International Symposium on Forecasting, Santander, Spain. The talks sparked questions from and discussion with both other academics and industry practitioners.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2016
URL https://forecasters.org/isf
 
Description LSE Works talk 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A talk given as part of the 'LSE Works' series which aims to showcase the research of LSE faculty in an accessible manner. The talk, entitled 'Coping with Deep Uncertainty: jellyfish, super-storms and nuclear stewardship' was delivered to an audience: approximately 200 people - a mix of academic, industry/business and general public. One of the discussants was a member of industry.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2017
URL http://www.lse.ac.uk/Events/2017/03/20170315t1830vHKT/Coping-with-Deep-Uncertainty