climate change uncertainty
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2021 ◽  
Author(s):  
◽  
Judith Helen Lawrence

<p>The ability of decision makers to respond to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and increased flood frequency is challenged by uncertainty about scale, timing, dynamic changes that could lead to regime shifts, and by societal changes. Climate change adaptation decision making needs to be robust and flexible across a range of possible futures, to provide sufficient certainty for investment decisions in the present, without creating undue risks and liabilities for the near and long-term futures. A country’s governance and regulatory institutions set parameters for such decisions. The decision-making challenge is, therefore, a function of the uncertainty and dynamic characteristics of climate change, a country’s institutional framework, and the ways in which actual decision-making practice delivers on the intention of the framework.  My research asks if the current decision-making framework, at national and sub-national scales, and practices under it are adequate to enable decision makers to make climate change adaptation decisions that sufficiently address the constraints posed by climate change uncertainty and dynamic change. The focus is on New Zealand’s multi-scale governance and institutional framework with its high level of devolution to the local level, the level assumed as the most appropriate for climate change adaptation decisions. Empirical information was collected from a sample of agencies and actors, at multiple governance scales reflecting the range of geographical characteristics, governance types, organisational functions and actor disciplines. Data were collected using a mix of workshops, interviews and document analyses. The adequacy of the institutional framework and practice was examined using 12 criteria derived from the risk-based concepts of precaution, risk management, adaptive management and transformational change, with respect to; a) understanding and representing uncertainty and dynamic climate change; b) governance and regulations; and c) organisations and actors.  The research found that the current decision-making framework has many elements that could, in principle, address uncertainty and dynamic climate change. It enables long-term considerations and emphasises precaution and risk-based decision making. However, adaptive and transformational objectives are largely absent, coordination across multiple levels of government is constrained and timeframes are inconsistent across statutes. Practice shows that climate risk has been entrenched by misrepresentation of climate change characteristics. The resulting ambiguity is compounded at different governance scales, by gaps in the use of national and regional instruments and consequent differences in judicial decisions. Practitioners rely heavily upon static, time-bound treatments of risk, which reinforce unrealistic community expectations of ongoing protections, even as the climate continues to change, and makes it difficult to introduce transformational measures. Some efforts to reflect changing risk were observed but are, at best, transitional measures. Some experimentation was found in local government practice and boundary organisations were used as change-agents. Any potential improvements to both the institutional framework and to practices that could enable flexible and robust adaptation to climate change, would require supporting policies and adaptive governance to leverage them and to sustain decision making through time.  This thesis contributes to understanding how uncertainty and dynamic climate change characteristics matter for adaptation decision making by examining both a country-level institutional framework and practice under it. The adequacy analysis offers a new way of identifying institutional barriers, enablers and entry points for change in the context of decision making under conditions of uncertainty and dynamic climate change.</p>


2021 ◽  
Author(s):  
◽  
Judith Helen Lawrence

<p>The ability of decision makers to respond to climate change impacts such as sea-level rise and increased flood frequency is challenged by uncertainty about scale, timing, dynamic changes that could lead to regime shifts, and by societal changes. Climate change adaptation decision making needs to be robust and flexible across a range of possible futures, to provide sufficient certainty for investment decisions in the present, without creating undue risks and liabilities for the near and long-term futures. A country’s governance and regulatory institutions set parameters for such decisions. The decision-making challenge is, therefore, a function of the uncertainty and dynamic characteristics of climate change, a country’s institutional framework, and the ways in which actual decision-making practice delivers on the intention of the framework.  My research asks if the current decision-making framework, at national and sub-national scales, and practices under it are adequate to enable decision makers to make climate change adaptation decisions that sufficiently address the constraints posed by climate change uncertainty and dynamic change. The focus is on New Zealand’s multi-scale governance and institutional framework with its high level of devolution to the local level, the level assumed as the most appropriate for climate change adaptation decisions. Empirical information was collected from a sample of agencies and actors, at multiple governance scales reflecting the range of geographical characteristics, governance types, organisational functions and actor disciplines. Data were collected using a mix of workshops, interviews and document analyses. The adequacy of the institutional framework and practice was examined using 12 criteria derived from the risk-based concepts of precaution, risk management, adaptive management and transformational change, with respect to; a) understanding and representing uncertainty and dynamic climate change; b) governance and regulations; and c) organisations and actors.  The research found that the current decision-making framework has many elements that could, in principle, address uncertainty and dynamic climate change. It enables long-term considerations and emphasises precaution and risk-based decision making. However, adaptive and transformational objectives are largely absent, coordination across multiple levels of government is constrained and timeframes are inconsistent across statutes. Practice shows that climate risk has been entrenched by misrepresentation of climate change characteristics. The resulting ambiguity is compounded at different governance scales, by gaps in the use of national and regional instruments and consequent differences in judicial decisions. Practitioners rely heavily upon static, time-bound treatments of risk, which reinforce unrealistic community expectations of ongoing protections, even as the climate continues to change, and makes it difficult to introduce transformational measures. Some efforts to reflect changing risk were observed but are, at best, transitional measures. Some experimentation was found in local government practice and boundary organisations were used as change-agents. Any potential improvements to both the institutional framework and to practices that could enable flexible and robust adaptation to climate change, would require supporting policies and adaptive governance to leverage them and to sustain decision making through time.  This thesis contributes to understanding how uncertainty and dynamic climate change characteristics matter for adaptation decision making by examining both a country-level institutional framework and practice under it. The adequacy analysis offers a new way of identifying institutional barriers, enablers and entry points for change in the context of decision making under conditions of uncertainty and dynamic climate change.</p>


Author(s):  
Jeroen Hopster

While the foundations of climate science and ethics are well established, fine-grained climate predictions, as well as policy-decisions, are beset with uncertainties. This chapter maps climate uncertainties and classifies them as to their ground, extent and location. A typology of uncertainty is presented, centered along the axes of scientific and moral uncertainty. This typology is illustrated with paradigmatic examples of uncertainty in climate science, climate ethics and climate economics. Subsequently, the chapter discusses the IPCC&rsquo;s preferred way of representing uncertainties and evaluates its strengths and weaknesses from a risk management perspective. Three general strategies for decision-makers to cope with climate uncertainty are outlined, the usefulness of which largely depends on whether or not decision-makers find themselves in a context of deep uncertainty. The chapter concludes by offering two recommendations to ease the work of policymakers, faced with the various uncertainties engrained in climate discourse.


2021 ◽  
Author(s):  
Michael Barnett ◽  
William Brock ◽  
Lars Hansen

2021 ◽  
Author(s):  
Stephanie G. Stettz ◽  
Nicholas C. Parazoo ◽  
A. Anthony Bloom ◽  
Peter D. Blanken ◽  
David R. Bowling ◽  
...  

Abstract. The flow of carbon through terrestrial ecosystems and the response to climate is a critical but highly uncertain process in the global carbon cycle. However, with a rapidly expanding array of in situ and satellite data, there is an opportunity to improve our mechanistic understanding of the carbon (C) cycle’s response to land use and climate change. Uncertainty in temperature limitation on productivity pose a significant challenge to predicting the response of ecosystem carbon fluxes to a changing climate. Here we diagnose and quantitatively resolve environmental limitations on growing season onset of gross primary production (GPP) using nearly two decades of meteorological and C flux data (2000–2018) at a subalpine evergreen forest in Colorado USA. We implement the CARDAMOM model-data fusion network to resolve the temperature sensitivity of spring GPP. To capture a GPP temperature limitation – a critical component of integrated sensitivity of GPP to temperature – we introduced a cold temperature scaling function in CARDAMOM to regulate photosynthetic productivity. We found that GPP was gradually inhibited at temperature below 6.0 °C (±2.6 °C) and completely inhibited below −7.1 °C (±1.1 °C). The addition of this scaling factor improved the model’s ability to replicate spring GPP at interannual and decadal time scales (r = 0.88), relative to the nominal CARDAMOM configuration (r = 0.47), and improved spring GPP model predictability outside of the data assimilation training period (r = 0.88) . While cold temperature limitation has an important influence on spring GPP, it does not have a significant impact on integrated growing season GPP, revealing that other environmental controls, such as precipitation, play a more important role in annual productivity. This study highlights growing season onset temperature as a key limiting factor for spring growth in winter-dormant evergreen forests, which is critical in understanding future responses to climate change.


2021 ◽  
Vol 287 ◽  
pp. 112300
Author(s):  
R. Andrew Tirpak ◽  
Jon M. Hathaway ◽  
Anahita Khojandi ◽  
Matthew Weathers ◽  
Thomas H. Epps

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