Introduction to the Ogmius Exchange
Decision Making and Climate Change
This month’s exchange addresses decision making and climate change. Martyn Clark, a Research Scientist here at the CIRES Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, and director of the NOAA-OGP Western Water Assessment, along with Roger Pulwarty, a Research Scientist with NOAA’s Climate Diagnostics Center (CDC), point out the urgent need to ensure that scientific information on climate change impacts is developed for and used by decision-makers. Clark and Pulwarty suggest that research should focus on testing the flexibility and resilience of the policies and plans of climate-sensitive decision-makers to a wide range of climate futures rather than attempting to reduce uncertainty among model predictions of future climate. As an example they cite the Western Water Assessment’s examination of the advantages and limitations of different management strategies that can be used to adapt to potential water shortages that may result as a consequence of climate extremes and societal changes such as population growth.
Responding to Clark and Pulwarty is Rob Wilby, Climate Change Science Advisor, UK Environment Agency. Wilby maintains that, while it is important to acknowledge uncertainty, the time is fast approaching when we will need to take action. He suggests one way to reduce uncertainty about future climate change is to quantify the impacts of present-day variability, which can teach us a lot about the key climate sensitivities and help to focus limited resources on critical assumptions and thresholds. Like the NOAA-OGP Western Water Assessment, UK Environment Agency’s Centre for Risk and Forecasting is appraising options rather than focusing on probabilistic estimates of climate change impacts.
For additional background see:
- Environment Agency, Risk and Forecasting
- Planning Climate and Global Change Research: A Review of the Draft U.S. Climate Change Science Program Strategic Plan
- Strategic Plan for the Climate Change Science Program (November 2002 draft)
- UK Climate Impacts Programme
- Western Water Assessment