Communicating probabilistic information from climate model ensembles-lessons from numerical weather prediction

Stephens, Elisabeth M.; Edwards, Tamsin L. and Demeritt, David (2012). Communicating probabilistic information from climate model ensembles-lessons from numerical weather prediction. Wiley Interdisciplinary Reviews: Climate Change, 3(5) pp. 409–426.

DOI: https://doi.org/10.1002/wcc.187

Abstract

Climate model ensembles are widely heralded for their potential to quantify uncertainties and generate probabilistic climate projections. However, such technical improvements to modeling science will do little to deliver on their ultimate promise of improving climate policymaking and adaptation unless the insights they generate can be effectively communicated to decision makers. While some of these communicative challenges are unique to climate ensembles, others are common to hydrometeorological modeling more generally, and to the tensions arising between the imperatives for saliency, robustness, and richness in risk communication. The paper reviews emerging approaches to visualizing and communicating climate ensembles and compares them to the more established and thoroughly evaluated communication methods used in the numerical weather prediction domains of day-to-day weather forecasting (in particular probabilities of precipitation), hurricane and flood warning, and seasonal forecasting. This comparative analysis informs recommendations on best practice for climate modelers, as well as prompting some further thoughts on key research challenges to improve the future communication of climate change uncertainties.

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