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Samuel Tang and Suraje Dessai

Abstract

With future changes in climate being inevitable, adaptation planning has become a policy priority. A central element in adaptation planning is scientific expertise and knowledge of what the future climate may hold. The U.K. Climate Projections 2009 (UKCP09) provide climate information designed to help those needing to plan how to adapt to a changing climate. This paper attempts to determine how useful and usable UKCP09 is for adaptation decision making. The study used a mixed-methods approach that includes analysis of adaptation reports, a quantitative survey, and semistructured interviews with key adaptation stakeholders working in the science–policy interface, which included decision makers, knowledge producers, and knowledge translators. The knowledge system criteria were used to assess the credibility, legitimacy, and saliency of UKCP09 for each stakeholder group. It emerged that stakeholders perceived UKCP09 to be credible and legitimate because of its sophistication, funding source, and the scientific reputation of organizations involved in UKCP09’s development. However, because of the inherent complexities of decision making and a potentially greater diversity in users, UKCP09’s saliency was found to be dependent upon the scientific competence and familiarity of the user(s) in dealing with climate information. An example of this was the use of Bayesian probabilistic projections, which improved the credibility and legitimacy of UKCP09’s science but reduced the saliency for decision making. This research raises the question of whether the tailoring of climate projections is needed to enhance their salience for decision making, while recognizing that it is difficult to balance the three knowledge criteria in the production of usable science.

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Meaghan Daly and Suraje Dessai

Abstract

Over the last 20 years, Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) have brought together scientific experts and stakeholders to produce regional-scale climate information products for society. This article examines the goals and practices of RCOFs, with a focus on user engagement, in order to draw out practical lessons for future implementation of RCOFs. Analysis of literature and documents (n = 72), interviews with key informants (n = 25), and participant observation were used in this research. Results show that approaches to user engagement in the RCOFs vary significantly from region to region and have been shaped by differences in the priority placed on user engagement relative to the other goals of the RCOFs, the role of RCOFs in the broader climate services delivery chain, the landscapes of potential users and institutions, and views about what the role of users can and should be. Findings indicate that approaches to user engagement necessarily reflect the regional context. This research suggests that more reflexivity about the current framing of RCOF goals is needed, including how users can and should be involved within RCOFs and how the benefits and value of RCOFs are conceptualized, assessed, and communicated in the future.

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Catherine Vaughan, Suraje Dessai, and Chris Hewitt

Abstract

Billed as the creation and provision of timely, tailored information for decision-making at all levels of society, climate services have garnered a great deal of attention in recent years. Despite this growing attention, strategies to design, diagnose, and evaluate climate services remain relatively ad hoc—and while a general sense of what constitutes “good practice” in climate service provision is developing in some areas, and with respect to certain aspects of service provision, a great deal about the effective implementation of such service remains unknown. This article reviews a sample of more than 100 climate service activities as a means to generate a snapshot of the state of the field in 2012. It is found that a “typical climate service” at this time was provided by a national meteorological service operating on a national scale to provide seasonal climate information to agricultural decision-makers online. The analysis shows that the field of climate services is still emerging—marked by contested definitions, an emphasis on capacity development, uneven progress toward coproduction, uncertain funding streams, and a lack of evaluation activities—and stands as a signpost against which the development of the field can be measured. The article also reflects on the relative contribution of this sort of sampling activity in informing “good practice” and offers suggestions for how both sampling and case study efforts can be better designed to increase the potential for learning. This article concludes with some observations on the relative contribution that broad-based analyses can play in informing this emerging field.

Open access
Marina Baldissera Pacchetti, Suraje Dessai, Seamus Bradley, and David A. Stainforth

Capsule

A framework for the assessment of quality in regional climate information needs to include dimensions such as: Diversity, Completeness, Theory, Adequacy for purpose, and Transparency.

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