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New climate services for informed decision-making

EU-funded researchers have collaborated with stakeholders to develop prototype climate services that meet the specific needs of those using climate change information.
New climate services for informed decision-making
In addressing the reality of climate change, Europe must balance the need to become more resilient to hydro-meteorological hazards with the ability to manage the risks and opportunities that come with climate variability and change. Doing this requires: a better understanding of climate and related user needs; an enhanced ability to predict climate change on all timescales; and improved accessibility, quality and usefulness of climate services (i.e., the provision of climate information in such a way as to assist decision making).

These challenges have been recognised by governments, scientists and decision makers around the world, leading to the creation of the Global Framework for Climate Services. As part of this, many countries have developed and delivered climate services geared towards better meeting societal needs. However, to effectively meet user needs, these services must be based on scientifically credible information and arise from user and provider engagement.

Here in Europe, the EU-funded EUPORIAS project was set-up to develop prototype climate services operating on a seasonal-to-decadal timescale. ‘The vision of EUPORIAS was to develop climate services and demonstrate their value in informing decision-making, thus stimulating market demand and improving the resilience of society to climate variability and change,’ says project coordinator Chris Hewitt from the UK’s Met Office.

Engaging users

With the mission of ensuring more effective use of climate forecasts, EUPORIAS researchers worked with stakeholders to determine the specific needs of those using climate change information. The project developed new technologies and tools for both exploiting climate information and for engaging with users. ‘Previous analyses in this area tended to focus on the longer timescale climate change projections, and little was known about who was using short-term information or how they were using it,’ says Hewitt.

During this phase, one important theme quickly emerged: a need to reduce the gap between the way climate information is provided and the formats required by users. For example, a common scenario for users is to find themselves working with imperfect forecasts. Here, EUPORIAS researchers developed six prototype climate services on the seasonal timescale, along with delivering standard tools for calibrating, downscaling, bias correcting and visualising the skill of climate predictions.

Another focus of the project was to improve user understanding of their vulnerability in the face of varying climate conditions and preparing them to mitigate these vulnerabilities by using climate forecasts. ‘We researched methods for transforming seasonal forecast data into relevant information for making informed decisions,’ explains Hewitt. These methods included transforming raw variables into user relevant indices through statistical post-processing and using impact models, as well as regional climate models.

Ongoing legacy

EUPORIAS’ work is helping reduce the risks and costs associated with responding to a changing climate – and businesses, governments, NGOs and society in general are all becoming better positioned to manage the risks and opportunities resulting from climate change because of it. ‘By forging engagement between various actors, with the aim of improving communication, mutual understanding and co-development of prototypes, our research has successfully improved the interface between climate service providers and decision makers,’ says Hewitt. ‘This in turn has allowed EUPORIAS to give substance to some of the concepts proposed by the Global Framework for Climate Services.’

Although the project has closed, its legacy lives on through new collaborations, research findings in peer-reviewed publications, the prototypes (some of which are being developed further) and sustained engagement between certain climate service developers and end users. ‘Not only will these legacies benefit other EU-funded projects and activities, they will also lead to new and even stronger engagement between users and providers of climate services,’ concludes Hewitt.

Related information

Keywords

EUPORIAS, climate change, Paris Agreement, climate forecasting, climate prediction, climate services, global warming, Europe
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