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Uncertainties

2012-03-12

Projections of future climate change and associated impacts are riddled with uncertainties representing challenges at all levels of policy- and decision-making. There is uncertainty about observed climate change and its past effects on natural and human systems. There is uncertainty about the current state of the environment and its resilience to changes. And there is even larger uncertainty about future changes in the climate system and their potential consequences to the environment and human societies.

In many contexts uncertainty is interpreted as a deficit of knowledge. Nevertheless, the scientific method is developed under the assumption of uncertainty. And in the absence of perfect knowledge, decisions are made every day, everywhere.

Planners and managers across sectors have to make decisions now about future strategies, measures and investments that are expected to protect their systems against potential climate vulnerabilities. This means taking into account an immense amount of "new" knowledge and data about climate change projections, socio-economic scenarios and methods for assessing impacts and vulnerabilities, among others. This also means coping with the wide range of scientific concepts - often disarming and technically complex - associated with climate and climate change research.

Climate change and climate adaptation policy developments represent a set of decision-making frameworks (e.g. international policy commitments, risk management planning and strategic investment decisions) that have to process and incorporate a wide range of uncertainties associated with these scientific outcomes.

In order to account for decision makers' (including policy makers') perspectives and support better informed decisions, this growing - and sometimes controversial - knowledge about the climate system, climate change and associated uncertainties, has to be communicated in a clear and useful way. This is a great challenge for those working in the fields of climate change and climate adaptation policy development, a challenge that lies at the core of this topic.

 

Source: FFCUL, 2012

Lines of Evidence

Expert Views

Experts opinion about the Area of Interest giving an overview of the priority of this area.
  • Arthur C. PETERSEN (Chief Scientist at PBL - Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency) [READ MORE]
  • Richard H. MOSS (Senior Staff Scientist Joint Global Change Research Institute Pacific Northwest National Laboratory and University of Maryland, USA) [READ MORE]

CIRCLE-2 Ongoing activities

The CIRCLE-2 past activities that were related with the area. [READ MORE]