Step 10: Communicate Your Information

The climate information you have developed is of limited use if it is not conveyed to stakeholders/users, either as input for impact assessment models or as knowledge products or advice[1] to inform adaptation activities.

When communicating your results, you must guide the readers or users on how to understand or interpret the projections and the assumptions made when producing them, as well as the level of uncertainty and confidence in the projections.

Guidelines for scenario consistency and reporting

To make climate information more accessible to the user, there should be consistency in presentation and reporting of scenarios. Following basic guidelines will greatly assist the reviewing and synthesis of information for impact studies. The following guidelines are adapted from the IPCC website.

Appropriate citation of sources

Out of courtesy to the scientists involved, the original sources of the baseline data and scenarios used should be cited correctly. For example, although the IPCC Data Distribution Centre (DDC) provides data from atmosphere-ocean global climate models, the correct sources to cite in referring to these models are publications by the modelling groups themselves, not the DDC. The DDC has documented each of the models, so the relevant information is readily available. Similarly, the sources of non-climatic scenarios should also be referenced correctly. If components of these scenarios are to be applied (e.g. regional population projections) then the original source of the projections should be cited. Again, the DDC provides guidance on this.

Use of standard notation

Special care should be taken to adopt conventional notation when referring to individual GCM experiments. There are many versions of the same or similar models in circulation, so it is important to identify models using an accepted acronym. Again, the DDC provides guidance on this.

Description of methods

The methods adopted to select, interpret, and apply the scenarios should be described in full, with proper citation to comparable previous studies employing similar methods. This information is important for evaluating and comparing different impact studies.

Presentation of results

Impact studies that employ scenarios should indicate, where possible, the statistical significance of the results. For example, regional scenarios of climate change should be compared with natural variability in the baseline observations or control simulation. Similarly, the impacts of these scenarios should be contrasted with the impacts of natural variability.

Consideration of uncertainties

At each stage of an impact assessment, there should be a full and proper discussion of the key uncertainties in the results, including those attributable to the input data, impact models, climate scenarios, and non-climatic scenarios.

Formatting data

If you are producing datasets ready for impact assessments, you must deliver them to the user in a form that is understandable and fit for their purpose.

There is typically a range of requirements for the format in which the data is provided so it can be used in applications.

Care must be taken to ensure:

  1. adequate time is allowed for this step, as it may not be trivial
  2. that in the process of providing the data in the correct format, crucial information is not lost or that the formatting is inadequate to capture the new projected values.

For formatted output, the potential exists that the values do not fit into the required fields, causing the appearance of an asterisk or some other unacceptable representation of the actual values.  In addition, formatted output has limited precision (the number of digits allowed). This could potentially cause truncation of the numbers, with corresponding lack of accuracy. Results need to be checked to ensure that errors have not been introduced during post-processing.


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[1] Climate knowledge products deliver information about projected change in climate variables such as rainfall in the format of documents, graphs, maps, or infographics, among others. Advice includes a scientifically-based recommendation about plausible climate impact on a given matter. Science-based advice can be found in reports (e.g. summary report for policy makers) or journal papers. They usually provide recommendations about plausible climate impacts on a given matter based on the results of a scientific study. For example, the Summary for Policymakers produced by the Indian Ocean Climate Initiative (IOCI) in south-west Western Australia reports that the drying trend in the region was not temporary or cyclical. These results subsequently informed the decision by the Government of Western Australia to approve a $450 million expansion of the region’s second desalination plant to meet the region’s water needs.