A Guidebook on Climate Scenarios: Using Climate Information to Guide Adaptation Research and Decisions
Climate change is unequivocal. There is ample evidence from around the globe that changes have already occurred. This reality is forcing decision-makers to evaluate the potential impacts, risks, vulnerabilities and opportunities that climate change presents. The development of adaptation plans and actions to adjust to this new reality requires decision-makers to increase their understanding of available climate information. The rapid advances in climate science and evolving understanding of the potential risks and opportunities arising from climate change impacts will require decision-makers to engage in more proactive and iterative management.
This guide is a tool for decision-makers to familiarize themselves with future climate information. It is aimed at all actors involved in climate change adaptation, from those in the early stages of climate change awareness to those involved in implementing adaptation measures. The guide consists of three main sections. The first categorizes climate information based on its use and on its level of complexity. The second section presents a catalogue of different ways in which climate information can be presented to decision-makers, such as planners, engineers, resource managers, and government. Finally, a third section outlines key climate modeling concepts that support a good understanding of climate information in general.
This document is not detailed enough to inform users on how to prepare different types of climate information, nor is it intended as a critical analysis of how the information is produced. Rather, it highlights the importance of working in collaboration with climate service providers to obtain climate information. The guide allows users to engage more easily with climate service providers and to become more critical of the information that is provided to them. It should be recognised that, at this point in time, the number of climate service providers is low relative to the demand for climate information.
Using this guide will allow decision-makers to become more familiar with climate information products and hence better evaluate what climate information best suits their needs. Key important messages emerging from the guide include:
- Climate information at different levels of complexity can be valuable, depending on the type of decision being made. More detailed information is not always necessary to inform better decisions
- Climate information can be tailored into formats that best match the level of expertise of the decision-makers;
- Decisions should be based on a range of plausible futures; a single best climate scenario does not exist;
- It is important to understand the limitations of the climate information used.