European Journal for Philosophy of Science

, Volume 5, Issue 2, pp 233–257

The role of climate models in adaptation decision-making: the case of the UK climate projections 2009

Original paper in Philosophy of Science

Abstract

When attendant to the agency of models and the general context in which they perform, climate models can be seen as instrumental policy tools that may be evaluated in terms of their adequacy for purpose. In contrast, when analysed independently of their real-world usage for informing decision-making, the tendency can be to prioritise their representative role rather than their instrumental role. This paper takes as a case study the development of the UK Climate Projections 2009 in relation to its probabilistic treatment of uncertainties and the implications of this approach for adaptation decision-making. It is considered that the move towards ensemble-based probabilistic climate projections has the benefit of encouraging organisations to reshape their adaptation strategies and decisions towards a risk-based approach, where they are confronted definitively with climate modelling uncertainties and drawn towards a more nuanced understanding of how climate impacts could affect their operations. This is further illustrated through the example of the built environment sector, where it can be seen that the probabilistic approach may be of limited salience for the urban heat island in the absence of a corresponding effort towards a more place-based analysis of climate vulnerabilities. Therefore, further assessment of the adequacy-for-purpose of climate models might also consider the usability of climate projections at the urban scale.

Keywords

Climate models Uncertainty Decision-making Climate adaptation Built environment Urban heat island Downscaling 

Abbreviations

ARCADIA

Adaptation and resilience in cities: analysis and decision-making using integrated assessment

ARCC

Adaptation and resilience in a changing climate

CCRA

Climate change risk assessment

CFMIP

Cloud feedback model intercomparison project

DEFRA

Department for environment food, and rural affairs

ENSEMBLES

ENSEMBLE-based predictions of climate changes and their impacts (full title)

GCM

General circulation model

HadCM

Hadley centre climate model

HadRM

Hadley centre regional model

HadSM

Hadley centre slab model

IPCC

Intergovernmental panel on climate change

MME

Multi-model ensemble

NAP

National adaptation programme

PPE

Perturbed physics ensemble

PRUDENCE

Prediction of regional scenarios and uncertainties for defining european climate change risks and effects

RCM

Regional climate model

SRES

Special report on emissions scenarios

TE2100

Thames estuary 2100

UKCIP

UK climate impacts programme

UKCIP02

UKCIP 2002 climate change scenarios for the United Kingdom

UKCP09

UK climate projections 2009

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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Sciences Po, médialabParisFrance

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