Climate Change in Planning and Design

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Course Description

"But regardless of how much supporting scientific information is available, making choices about how to act in the face of uncertainty can prove contentious if people disagree about the nature of the risks they face or about which elements of these risks are most important." America's Climate Choices, 2011

This seminar-reading-discussion course focuses on special topics on the use of climate-change data and knowledge in planning, design, engineering and management. Topics include, for example, uncertainty in the context of decision making, non-stationarity in design and engineering, and vulnerability and risk assessment.

This course was designed for the Climate and Space (CLaSP) MEng in Applied Climate. The course is also designed to be accessible as an elective to those in other departments in the College of Engineering and across the University as a whole. The target is the professional who needs to incorporate climate knowledge in planning and design. Examples of subject areas include:

1) Description of uncertainty in climate data and projections and how to manage that uncertainty in planning and design,

2) Exploration of incorporating non-stationarity of weather into planning and design,

3) Discovery of vulnerability to changing weather and incorporation of knowledge into risk assessment and management.

These subject areas are at the leading edge, multi-disciplinary, complex and rapidly evolving. The course will include seminars by experts in the field, readings and responses. The course will consider application of the knowledge developed in the course to real-world applications.

"... in the case of some people, not even if we had the most accurate scientific knowledge, would it be easy to persuade them …” Aristotle, Rhetoric, 350 BC


Problem Statement

Sea Level Rise 2016

During the past 100 years, sea level has risen. The rise is consistent with the ocean expanding due to the absorption of heat and the melting of glaciers. Recent observations shows accelerating melting of the ice sheets in Greenland and Antarctica. In fact, there is evidence that several glaciers in West Antarctica are lost.

Over the next decades, we will see, on average, persistent and accelerating sea level rise. This will cause profound changes to our coastlines. It is, perhaps, counterintuitive that sea level rise varies from place to place. In fact, in some places, sea level is observed to be decreasing. This counterintuitive behavior is one of the issues that makes it difficult to calculate and describe uncertainty to local authorities in charge of planning and management.

In the 2016 class, we will look at sea level rise and uncertainty. We will focus on two localities, South Florida and The Netherlands.

The goal is to address the following questions:

  • What are that local issues of sea level rise?
  • What are the sources of uncertainty that planners and managers face? (Think portfolio of uncertainties, integrated assessment of uncertainties, descriptions of uncertainty)
  • How is uncertainty being managed?
  • How have the two localities responded to climate change projections? What has been the role of uncertainty in their responses?
  • What are the known vulnerabilities, and how do they inform the local responses?
  • What is the usability of the available information on sea level rise?
  • What additional information is needed?
  • What are the most important issues that must be addressed in sea level planning in the two localities?
  • How important are uncertainties in the basic science of sea level rise compared to other sources of uncertainty?

You are at a new job. You are asked to address the increased flooding of the highway next to the coast. How do you get started? (Below is based on class discussion)

  • Identify all of the parties involved.
  • Do an integrated assessment of vulnerabilities, risk, cost, and benefit.
  • Identify whether or not you can take on this problem "alone" or does it require a "regional" or multi-constituency approach.
  • Appreciate that climate is changing, that you have to think about climate strategically. It will require revisiting in each planning cycle.
  • Adaptive management. No longer to make a decision and forget it. Will need to adapt planning and management as new knowledge becomes available.

To consider in a final write up

  • For the sea-level region that you considered, what are the issues that will be important in successful problem solving? Think beyond "climate," for example, political buy in, competing interests, etc. What are the primary barriers?
  • We considered the approach in Florida and in The Netherlands. What motivates these two regions, and how does history, either environmental or political, influence their approach and progress on addressing sea level rise.
  • Has the region adopted a sea level rise scenario in their planning? Is this "official," or coming from an advocacy organization?
  • What is your analysis of the role of scientific uncertainty in the ability of a region to address sea level rise? How could better description or framing of uncertainty accelerate addressing sea level rise?




California Drought 2015

Problem Statement 2015

Required Readings / Resources (2016) assigned

Author Title Link Purpose
Hawkins and Sutton The potential to narrow uncertainty in regional climate predictions View Class Link Classifying uncertainty
Rood Lecture Climate Introduction in One Lecture View Class Link Climate science background, Introduction of uncertainty
Rood Lecture Introduction to Uncertainty in the Scientific Investigation of Earth's Climate View Class Link Classifying and describing uncertainty
Parris et al. Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for U.S. National Climate Assessment View Class Link A document to support sea level rise planning, Communicating and using uncertainty
David Archer Lecture The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate View Class Link A document to support sea level rise planning, Important implications for uncertainty
John Englander Lecture High Tide on Main Street View Class Link A document to support sea level rise planning, Thinking about integrated uncertainties
National Climate Assessment Students are to search for usable information on Florida and sea level rise View Class Link Assessment and usability
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Students are to search for usable information on Florida and Holland and sea level rise View Class Link Assessment and usability
Moss Reducing doubt about uncertainty: Guidance for IPCC’s third assessment View Class Link Communicating uncertainty
Pidgeon and Fischhoff The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks View Class Link Communicating uncertainty
Lemos and Rood (2010) Climate projections and their impact on policy and practice View Class Link Uncertainty fallacy
Knaggard What do policy-makers do with scientific uncertainty? The incremental character of Swedish climate change policy-making View Class Link Case study of uncertainty use

Required Readings / Resources (2015) assigned

Required Readings / Resources (2015) assigned


Resources Suggested: Lectures Powerpoint, Recordings, PDFs

Climate Introduction in One Lecture

Introduction to Uncertainty in the Scientific Investigation of Earth's Climate

AOSS 480 / NRE 480 Climate Change: An Inter-Disciplinary Approach to Problem Solving

OpenClimate Tumblr Site. Use the tags in the quasi-controlled vocabulary.



All Resources

Green are core resources for class.


Overviews: Communicating, describing, organizing, using

Author Title Link Purpose
Moss Reducing doubt about uncertainty: Guidance for IPCC’s third assessment View Class Link Communicating uncertainty
National Public Radio Risk and reason(Recordings of radio series) View Class Link Communicating and using uncertainty
Pidgeon and Fischhoff The role of social and decision sciences in communicating uncertain climate risks View Class Link Communicating uncertainty
Climate Change Study Program Best practice approaches for characterizing, communicating, and incorporating scientific uncertainty in climate decision making View Class Link Communicating and using uncertainty
Moss and Schneider (2000) Uncertainties in the IPCC TAR: Recommendations To Lead Authors For More Consistent Assessment and Reporting View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Mastrandrea and Mach (2011) Treatment of uncertainties in IPCC Assessment Reports: past approaches and considerations for the Fifth Assessment Report View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Mastrandrea et al. (2011) The IPCC AR5 guidance note on consistent treatment of uncertainties: a common approach across the working groups View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Yohe and Oppenheimer(2011) Evaluation, characterization, and communication of uncertainty by the intergovernmental panel on climate change—an introductory essay View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Moss and Yohe (2011) Resources for Assessing Confidence and Uncertainty National Climate Assessment View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
National Research Council (2012) Characterizing, Quantifying, and Communicating Uncertainty (Chapter 6) View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Curry and Webster (2011) Climate Science and the Uncertainty Monster View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty
Washington Post (2014) How Not To Communicate Uncertainty about Climate Change View Class Link Communicating, describing, organizing, and using uncertainty


Ensembles:

Author Title Link Purpose
Hurrell et al. Climate predictions and projections over the coming decades (recorded lecture (MP4), skip first 9:30) View Class Link Classifying and describing uncertainty
Climateprediction.net World's largest climate modeling experiment (Web site: Information in several tabs on the site) View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Collins et al. (2011) Climate model errors, feedbacks and forcings: a comparison of perturbed physics and multi-model ensembles View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Murphy et al. (2004) Quantification of modelling uncertainties in a large ensemble of climate change simulations View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Murphy et al. (2007) A methodology for probabilistic prediction of regional climate change from perturbed physics ensembles View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Tebaldi and Knutti (2007) The use of the multi-model ensemble in probabalistic climate projections View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Tomassini et al. (2010) Uncertainty and risk in climate projections for the 21st century: comparing mitigation to non-intervention scenarios View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty


Philosophy

Author Title Link Purpose
Lloyd (2010) Confirmation and Robustness of Climate Models View Class Link Robustness
Hargreaves and Annan (2014) Can we trust climate models? View Class Link Trust and Communication
Parker (2010) Predicting weather and climate:Uncertainty, ensembles and probability View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Parker (2013) Ensemble modeling, uncertainty and robust predictions View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty
Parker (2014) Values and uncertainties in climate prediction, revisited View Class Link Ensembles and describing uncertainty


Model, Scenario, Internal Variability

Author Title Link Purpose
Hawkins and Sutton The potential to narrow uncertainty in regional climate predictions View Class Link Classifying uncertainty (Model, Scenario, Internal Variability)
Lynn et al. (2009) Quantifying the sensitivity of simulated climate change to model configuration View Class Link Model Parameterization Uncertainty
Harding et al. (2012) The implications of climate change scenario selection for future stream-flow projection in the Upper Colorado River Basin View Class Link Scenario Uncertainty
Yip et al. (2011) A Simple, Coherent Framework for Partitioning Uncertainty in Climate Predictions (Statistical Approach) View Class Link Model, Scenario, and Internal Variability Uncertainty
Northrup (2012) Comments on "A Simple, Coherent Framework for Partitioning Uncertainty in Climate Predictions" (Statistical Approach) View Class Link Model, Scenario, and Internal Variability Uncertainty


Papers on Usability and Uncertainty

Author Title Link Purpose
Knaggard (2014) What do policy-makers do with scientific uncertainty? The incremental character of Swedish climate change policy-making View Class Link Case study of uncertainty use
Lemos and Rood (2010) Climate projections and their impact on policy and practice View Class Link Uncertainty fallacy
Tang and Dessai (2012) Usable Science? The U.K. Climate Projections 2009 and Decision Support for Adaptation Planning View Class Link Uncertainty quantification versus usability


Assessments: Uncertainty Guidance and Use

Author Title Link Purpose
National Climate Assessment Students are to search for usable information on Florida and sea level rise View Class Link Assessment and usability
National Climate Assessment (2014) Southwest region assessment View Class Link Basic research, assessment, and usability
Parris et al. Global Sea Level Rise Scenarios for U.S. National Climate Assessment View Class Link A document to support sea level rise planning, Communicating and using uncertainty
CCSP (2008) Impacts of Climate Change and Variability on Transportation Systems and Infrastructure: Gulf Coast Study, Phase I View Class Link Usability guidance and discussions
Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Students are to search for usable information on Florida and Holland and sea level rise View Class Link Assessment and usability
IPCC (2014) CLIMATE CHANGE 2014 SYNTHESIS REPORT: Approved Summary for Policymakers View Class Link Usability guidance and discussions
IPCC (2014) CLIMATE CHANGE 2014 SYNTHESIS REPORT: Full Report View Class Link Usability guidance and discussions
Rood Lecture Climate Introduction in One Lecture View Class Link Climate science background, Introduction of uncertainty
Rood Lecture Introduction to Uncertainty in the Scientific Investigation of Earth's Climate View Class Link Classifying and describing uncertainty
Barnett et al.(2005) Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions View Class Link Basic research, assessment, and usability
David Archer Lecture The Long Thaw: How Humans Are Changing the Next 100,000 Years of Earth's Climate View Class Link A lecture to support sea level rise planning, Important implications for uncertainty
John Englander Lecture High Tide on Main Street View Class Link A lecture to support sea level rise planning, Thinking about integrated uncertainties