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 2015

California Drought 2015

California is in the midst of a sustained and dangerous drought. Temperatures have been high, precipitation scarce. Looking more broadly, Oregon, Washington, Alaska and western Canada have had record fire seasons in 2015. Temperature readings in Alaska have, at times, seemed more appropriate for Washington, D.C.

In the U.S., California has the largest population of any state. The agricultural productivity is very high. There are unique natural resources. Much of California is dry, and in the best of times, there is competition for water. The drought has amplified the tensions over water. Climate-change models project that the factors that stress water will become larger. The question at hand is whether or not there is adequate credibility and knowledge in the climate-model projections to justify their use in planning and management?

There are two issues we want to consider. The first concerns the uncertainty in climate-change projections. If we want to make knowledge-based decisions, rather than, say, following our intuition, we need to know the uncertainty of our knowledge. Perhaps we need to know “the facts on the ground.” The second issue is stationarity; that is, the concept from statistics that - if one samples a parameter at one time, its mean and standard deviation will be the same as if sampled at another time. We will explore the roles of uncertainty and stationarity in deciding on the usability of climate projections in the planning and management of California water resources.

Specifically

If you are working on dams on the Tuolumne River in California during the next 50 years, how would describe the uncertainty to planners?

Required Readings / Resources (2015) assigned

Author Title Link Purpose
Hawkins and Sutton The potential to narrow uncertainty in regional climate predictions View Class Link Classifying uncertainty
Barnett et al. Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions View Class Link Basic research, assessment, and usability
National Climate Assessment Southwest region assessment View Class Link Basic research, assessment, and usability
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
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
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
Student Choice
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



Resources Suggested (2015): 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




All Resources (2015)

Green are the resources that were assigned for discussion in 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 Southwest region assessment View Class Link Basic research, assessment, and usability
Barnett et al. Potential impacts of a warming climate on water availability in snow-dominated regions View Class Link Basic research, 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
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