Topic A: Open CLimate IMpacts modelling framework (OpenCLIM)

Lead Research Organisation: University of East Anglia
Department Name: Tyndall Centre


Climate change is one of the major threats of the 21st Century both nationally and globally. This requires a joint response of mitigation and adaptation as enshrined in the UK Climate Change Act, which mandates a Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) every five years and a quinquennial National Adaptation Plan (NAP) to adapt to the climate risks that are identified. Assessing climate risks and adaptation in a consistent manner is scientifically challenging as climate change is manifest in multiple ways (rising temperature and sea level, changing precipitation, etc.) and impacts every human and natural system. Further there are direct and indirect impacts as these effects cascade and interact with other sectors which are often changing due to non-climate processes. Any proposed adaptations need to be assessed in a similar manner including direct and indirect effects and unintended consequences. Earlier UK climate assessments did not fully address this challenge relying in part on expert synthesis for integration, potentially leading to an over focus on direct consequences and leading to inconsistencies between sectors and between adaptation options.

The OpenCLIM project is designed to support UK assessment of climate risks and adaptation needs, and future CCRAs and NAPs in particular, by developing and applying a first UK integrated assessment for climate impacts and adaptation. First and foremost we aim to develop an open, innovative and flexible platform to provide an improved capacity for the next CCRA and NAP. Our model will consider UK-wide climate impacts and adaptation in biodiversity, agriculture, infrastructure and urban areas, considering the impacts of flooding, heat stress and changing temperature and precipitation. It will also consider two detailed case studies: (1) an urban analysis of Glasgow and environs (the Clyde); and (2) a more rural analysis of the Norfolk Broads and environs. These will serve as a demonstration and validation exercise to inform the national analysis. Secondly, we will also design an open-access platform with a strong legacy which is flexible to allow further development of the integrated model beyond this funding. We aspire to develop a community model where new and improved models could be easily incorporated and innovative science and new policy questions investigated. Hence future CCRAs and NAPs could be linked to a living science process, drawing on evolving understanding and stakeholder needs. This would include improving knowledge in established sectors and areas, and developing better sectoral linkages and interactions, as well as adding new models of less established sectors and areas as they emerge, including the ability to reframe and pose new questions. Recognising the significant challenge of achieving this second goal, our model will be developed within the UKCIRC DAFNI (Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure) facility for High Performance Computing.

The platform will be designed to take the UKCP18 and new UK socioeconomic scenarios to ensure the best scientific inputs. The approach will be explicitly spatial and allow highlighting of geographical hotspot areas and the prioritisation of risks in a systematic and consistent manner including tabulation and mapping of outputs. The models that are included are all physically-based (rather than emulators or rules-of-thumb) and this will enable the generation of new research insights, including climatic risks in the UK. Importantly, the use of physically-based models will allow credible simulation of conditions that have not been previously observed and improve confidence in the results compared to earlier analyses.

Planned Impact

Climate change is a top threat to the well-being and sustainability of the UK. Strategic assessment and management of these climate risks is therefore crucial. Consequently, this research aims to aims to develop an open, innovative, flexible and continuously evolving platform for integrated assessment modelling of climate change risks and adaptation at the UK scale. This will provide an improved capacity for the next Climate Change Risk Assessment (CCRA) and National Adaptation Plan (NAP) and an open model platform for further development of the integrated model in multiple ways.

Our four impact priorities are to:
1. pilot the new platform in preparation for the 4th UK CCRA and the associated NAP and beyond;
2. develop an internationally leading platform for Climate Change Risk Assessment;
3. nurture a thriving ecosystem of academics, practitioners and other developers to innovate in climate change risk assessment; and,
4. demonstrate the benefit of climate change adaptation to society.

The main beneficiaries and benefits of the research will therefore be:
* The Adaptation Committee of the Committee on Climate Change as they oversee the national Climate Change Risk Assessment every 5 years, and assess the government's progress in delivering the National Adaptation Plan (NAPs) every 2 years.
* UK and Devolved Administration (DA) government departments (e.g., DEFRA) who lead on adaptation and are responsible for producing the NAPs will benefit from an improved evidence base for adaptation planning.
* Departmental and/or agency owner of risks (e.g. Environment Agency, Public Health England, etc.) who have responsibilities for managing particular risks - will benefit from improved methodologies and understanding of those risks.
* Regional stakeholders, initially those in Glasgow City Region and Norfolk who will benefit from our validation case study work, but ultimately other regional bodies and local authorities will benefit from improved climate change risk assessment at sub-national scales.
* Developers of tools for climate change risk assessment and adaptation, especially academics who usually don't have easy 'route to market', will benefit from an open and flexible platform through which they can make their cutting-edge models available for widespread use. The initial focus will be on national assessment models, but OpenCLIM will be designed to be flexible and allow DA or local scale models to be incorporated.
* Multi-disciplinary consultants, who will benefit from access to state of the art climate change modelling to inform their consultancy services in the UK, and ultimately internationally. Although OpenCLIM is an open source framework the process of setting up simulations and interpreting results could be commercial and provide benefit to UK plc.
* Communities and wider public, who will benefit in terms of their safety, health and wellbeing that results from improved understanding of climate change risks and therefore more effective adaptation. Working with partners we will seek to transfer methods to the UK and internationally.

The flexible nature of OpenCLIM, and the creation of an ecosystem of developers as part of our pathways to impact means that endusers in industry, government and communities, can rely upon steadily improving assessment and adaptation as the platform evolves to incorporate the latest knowledge.

Impact and engagement with partners will be managed by Asher Minns who has 20 year's experience of stakeholder collaboration. A series of stakeholder workshops at regional, devolved administration and national scales will form the backbone of a continuous engagement process which will take place during the project. The project is structured and managed so that the platform, framework and integrated assessments are all co-designed with stakeholders. This exchange is complemented by input from our inclusion of key stakeholders as members of our Advisory Board.


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