Climate Risk Indicators: developing indicators of climate risk using UKCP18 to support risk assessments and enhance resilience

Lead Research Organisation: University of Reading
Department Name: Meteorology


In order to enhance resilience to weather events and climate change, it is necessary to assess risk. This project provides first estimates of a series of indicators of climate risk, using UKCP18, relevant to climate risk assessments at national, devolved, and local levels, and over different time horizons. It will provide information valuable to the next Climate Change Risk Assessment, and help organisations understand their current and future risks.

The project will also provide information about the relationship between future increases in temperature and future risk. For some indicators, risk will increase rapidly as temperature increases, but for others risk may only begin to increase significantly at higher temperature increases. Changes in risk will also be uncertain because we cannot yet predict future climate very precisely, so the project will also allow us to assess the confidence in projections of future risk.

The project uses the new UKCP18 climate projections, and concentrates in the first instance on risks of weather extremes, floods and droughts, and risks to agricultural productivity.

Planned Impact

The project is designed to provide policy-relevant information on current and future climate risk to a range of beneficiaries, primarily in national, local and devolved governments.

These beneficiaries are organisations with statutory or operational responsibilities for assessing current and future climate risks and enhancing resilience. They will benefit from consistent, robust and policy-relevant information on current and future climate risks, which will enable them to (i) assess the magnitude of risks and the confidence in that assessment, (ii) compare risks in order to prioritise actions, and (iii) compare observed experience with projected future trends. At present, these beneficiaries do not have information on risks in forms that are policy-relevant (in terms of the types of indicators and how information is presented), and information on risks at different time scales is provided in different ways making it difficult to compare current and future risks.

At the national scale, these beneficiaries include the Adaptation Sub-Committee of the Committee on Climate Change (responsible for delivering the evidence report for the third Climate Change Risk Assessment), the Civil Contingencies Secretariat of the Cabinet Office, and departments responsible for specific sectors. At the devolved scale, the beneficiaries include directorates of the Scottish Government and the Scottish National Centre for Resilience, the Welsh Government and Natural Resources Wales, and Northern Ireland government departments. At the local scale, the beneficiaries include local councils and Local Resilience Forums (England and Wales), Regional Resilience Partnerships (Scotland) and Emergency Preparedness Groups (Northern Ireland). These all have statutory and operational responsibilities to assess climate risks.

The regulated public service providers (water service companies, energy utilities and transport providers) also have statutory obligations under the 2008 Climate Change Act to report on their risks.


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Description The project calculated a series of indicators of climate change, directly relevant to organisations seeking to adapt to climate change and increase resilience. These indicators cover heat extremes, agriculture, the transport sector, wildfire risks, emergency planning, floods and droughts. The project uses UKCP18 climate projections. It has shown how (i) almost all indicators suggest risks will increase in the UK, (ii) that the change in risks varies considerably across the UK, and (iii) that risks over the next two or three decades are already commited but that risks after 2050 are strongly dependent on decisions taken now to reduce future emissions of greenhouse gases. The project has also highlighted substantial differences between different UKCP18 climate projections, with implications for resilience planning.
Exploitation Route The results of the project are directly relevant to government and private sector organisations concerned with future climate change risks.
Sectors Agriculture, Food and Drink,Communities and Social Services/Policy,Energy,Environment,Financial Services, and Management Consultancy,Government, Democracy and Justice,Transport

Description The project results are currently being used by UK government stakeholders to influence the development of new policies to support adaptation and resilience.
First Year Of Impact 2020
Sector Government, Democracy and Justice
Impact Types Policy & public services

Description Contribution to UK policy on climate change adaptation
Geographic Reach National 
Policy Influence Type Membership of a guideline committee
Impact The PI has been directly involved in working with government stakeholders concerned with improving adaptation to climate change in the UK. The emerging results of the project have been presented to stakeholders, and are influencing policy development. The research will therefore contribute directly to the development of improved policies to address climate change impacts in the UK.
Description High Impact storylines and scenarios for risk assessment and planning
Amount £295,768 (GBP)
Funding ID CR20-4 
Organisation Meteorological Office UK 
Sector Academic/University
Country United Kingdom
Start 01/2021 
End 11/2022
Description Engagement with UK stakeholders concerned with climate change adaptation and resilience 
Form Of Engagement Activity A formal working group, expert panel or dialogue
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Professional Practitioners
Results and Impact The project is based around continued engagement with UK stakeholders concerned with increasing resilience to climate change in the UK. The PI has participated in government working groups aimed at enhancing adaptation, and has fed the results of the project directly into these groups.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
Description Presentation to Bracknell Council 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Local
Primary Audience Policymakers/politicians
Results and Impact Presentation on climate risk indicators to Bracknell Council, to inform the development of climate policy by the council.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020