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

Lead Research Organisation: University of Leeds
Department Name: School of Earth and Environment

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.

Publications

10 25 50

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Caminade C (2014) Impact of climate change on global malaria distribution. in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America

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Challinor A (2013) Use of agro-climate ensembles for quantifying uncertainty and informing adaptation in Agricultural and Forest Meteorology

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Challinor A (2011) Forecasting food in Nature Climate Change

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Challinor A (2014) A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation in Nature Climate Change

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Ferro C (2012) A bias-corrected decomposition of the Brier score in Quarterly Journal of the Royal Meteorological Society

 
Description See http://www.equip.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21926-Equip-A4-flyer-v9.pdf
Exploitation Route Improved quantification of uncertainty in climate and impacts
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Construction,Education,Energy,Environment,Healthcare,Manufacturing, including Industrial Biotechology,Transport

URL http://www.equip.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21926-Equip-A4-flyer-v9.pdf
 
Description Conversations with Limagrain crop breeders raised awareness of the importance of climate information. The follow-up TSB project picked up on this. A public outreach session was led by Friederike Otto, on attribution of climate change, at the African Climate Conference in Arusha in October 2014 Numerous other outreach events used EQUIP outputs
First Year Of Impact 2013
Sector Agriculture, Food and Drink,Environment
Impact Types Cultural,Societal,Economic,Policy & public services

 
Description EQUIP Project Conclusions - Quantifying uncertainty in predictions of climate and its impacts
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://www.equip.leeds.ac.uk/wp-content/uploads/2014/07/21926-Equip-A4-flyer-v9.pdf
 
Description Embracing uncertainty in science: What do we need to know to make decisions, and do we know it?
Geographic Reach Multiple continents/international 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
Impact Making Sense of Uncertainty did make an impact. We see it as the first guide that has distilled clear language to help all scientists talk to each other about what scientific uncertainty means, and to inform their outreach. It is a good primer for journalists and policy makers, and we are using it as a starting point to develop more public friendly resources. The work we did also informed the lecture our director, Tracey Brown, gave last year. She wrote it up as an article for the Guardian and the lecture itself is available as a podcast (linked to from the article). Below are some links to the coverage Making Sense of Uncertainty received, including on Radio 4. BBC Radio 4 Material World, 27th June 2013 (from 12.17) Read more... The Carbon Brief Lost in translation: Scientific uncertainty and belief in climate change EQUIP (End-to-end quantification of uncertainty for impacts prediction) Embracing uncertainty in science: What do we need to know to make decisions, and do we know it? The Institution of Environmental Science Think uncertainty is a bad thing? It's actually a mark of sound science London School of Economics and Political Science Communicating the uncertainty in science is necessary to improve public confidence and decision-making of non-specialists. NERC Planet Earth blog, Making Sense of Uncertainty Pacific Standard A Guide For These Uncertain Times University of Reading What does 'uncertainty' in science really mean? New guide explains all University of Manchester Making Sense of Uncertainty Wiley Think uncertainty is a bad thing? It's actually a mark of sound science See a Storify of the Twitter discussion surrounding the Making Sense of Uncertainty launch (all of these are listed alongside the guide itself, here: http://www.senseaboutscience.org/pages/uncertainty.html).
URL http://www.senseaboutscience.org/resources.php/127/making-sense-of-uncertainty
 
Description In collaboration with LWEC, EQUIP has produced a policy and practice note on dealing with uncertainty in climate and impacts
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Implementation circular/rapid advice/letter to e.g. Ministry of Health
URL http://www.lwec.org.uk/publications/climate-impacts-taking-action-face-uncertainty
 
Description UK Technology and Strategy Board Developing project 2014-2015: Breeding strategies for a variable climate
Amount £58,299 (GBP)
Organisation Innovate UK 
Sector Public
Country United Kingdom
Start 07/2014 
End 06/2015
 
Description TSB Collaboration - UK Technology and Strategy Board Developing project 2014-2015: Breeding strategies for a variable climate 
Organisation Innovate UK
Country United Kingdom 
Sector Public 
PI Contribution Limagrain and Environmental Systems TSB
Collaborator Contribution N/A
Impact N/A
Start Year 2014
 
Description Andy Challinor - Press coverage for paper, and the associated IPCC report was extensive. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A press release, press conference or response to a media enquiry/interview
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Press coverage for this paper, and the associated IPCC report was extensive. By late April 2014, this article was in the 99th percentile (ranked 171st) of the 61,673 tracked articles of a similar age in all journals. Press coverage for this paper, and the associated IPCC report was extensive. It included my appearance on the ITN six and ten o'clock news, BBC News Channel live, BBC Radio 4, Radio Leeds and Radio 1. Challinor AJ; Watson J; Lobell DB; Howden SM; Smith DR; Chhetri N (2014) A meta-analysis of crop yield under climate change and adaptation, Nature Climate Change 4 (4) pages 287 - 291
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2014
 
Description F. Otto - The Africa Climate Conference 2013 (ACC2013), Arusha, Tanzania 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Presentation given on the observations for Monitoring, Understanding and Predicting Climate, Climate Extremes and Indices, Detection and Attribution of Extremes and Climate Events.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Workshop - Strengthening resilience through improved treatment of uncertainty 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Delegates from academia, funding agencies, policy departments and development agencies met to present the state of the art in quantifying uncertainty in weather, climate and impacts, and discuss application of these methods to UK risk assessment and global humanitarian and disaster risk reduction work.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Workshop - Suraje Dessai Thinking National Climate Scenarios 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact This international workshop brought together climate scientists, experts, and decision-makers from the UK and centres around the world to understand what lessons can be learnt about the social, political, and technical issues that shaped the construction of national climate scenarios. They discussed what kind of climate scenarios are needed, by whom, and the value of modelling complexity vs. finer resolutions, and much more.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
 
Description Workshop - Tolerating the Right Kinds of Uncertainty 28 May 2012 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The focus of the workshop was on discussing and sharing understandings about the nature of uncertainty in weather and climate predictions and the extent to which science could be confident in the reliability of the information it produced.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2012
URL http://www.devstud.org.uk/tolerating_the_right_kinds_of_uncertainty_workshop_28th_may_2012-104.html
 
Description Workshop and conference on "Use of Climate Information for Plant Breeding" - A. Challinor 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact Lead to further interaction and funding:
UK Technology and Strategy Board Developing project 2014-2015: "Breeding strategies for a variable climate" with Limagrain and Environmental Systems

Also lead to international conference in June 2014 "Breeding Plants to Cope with Future Climate Change." This conference had over 100 attendees from the public sector and academia. It influenced CGIAR research practice.
http://www.aab.org.uk/contentok.php?id=171&basket=wwsshowconfdets
The conference has an associated journal special issue: http://www.aab.org.uk/contentok.php?id=488
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2013
URL https://ccafs.cgiar.org/breeding-plants-cope-future-climate-change#.Vt1p6OZWXUc