April 27th, 2010
At our first user meeting on the 27th and 28th of April, we discussed with the public, private and charity sectors how to orient EQUIP towards improved use of climate information.
This meeting identified active collaborators/users for EQUIP and ensured that the EQUIP research agenda is appropriate for informing the decision making of interested users. Through conversation with invited users from the public, private and charity sectors, we will orient EQUIP towards improved use of climate information for specific cases.
The workshop included user perspectives on climate information, presentation of the EQUIP consortium and discussion to identify mechanisms through which EQUIP can best work together with users to aid decision-making.
The workshop highlighted the following issues:
Treatments of uncertainty can help or hinder decision-making. The cascade of uncertainty at some point needs to be condensed into a form that can affect a decision; “yields will fall by -100 to +234%” is not a helpful statement. Policymakers need consensus, not disagreement. The choice of language is important: uncertainty vs robustness vs risk. Informative presentation of uncertainty is important.
A useful uncertainty-focussed question might be: “what are the sources of uncertainty in climate information, and what are their relative magnitudes?” This is answered elsewhere, e.g. UKCP09 science report; but is there a role for this sort of uncertainty-based analysis within EQUIP-user collaborations?
The multiplicity of sources of climate information causes problems. Are they all to be treated as equally plausible? If not, why believe one set of climate outputs over another? The answer currently usually comes through what is readily available, i.e. finding experts and trusting them. However, perhaps one model / treatment is better than other for a particular decision. Certainly no one model is ‘reality inside a computer.’
Engaging with users, and understanding their decisions making processes, is crucial to the success of EQUIP. The sector/decision specificity of the analyses needed, the inherent uncertainty, and the multiplicity of sources of climate information mean that only sustained and informed engagement with users are likely to improve the utility of climate information.