Intersections of downscaling, the ethics of climate services, and regional research grand challenges.

Friday, 19 December 2014: 11:35 AM
Bruce Hewitson1, Christopher Jack1 and William J Gutowski Jr2, (1)University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa, (2)Iowa State Univ, Ames, IA, United States
Possibly the leading complication for users of climate information for policy and adaptation is the confusing mix of contrasting data sets that offer widely differing (and often times fundamentally contradictory) indications of the magnitude and direction of past and future regional climate change. In this light, the most pressing scientific-societal challenge is the need to find new ways to understand the sources of conflicting messages from multi-model, multi-method and multi-scale disparities, to develop and implement new analytical methodologies to address this difficulty and so to advance the interpretation and communication of robust climate information to decision makers. Compounding this challenge is the growth of climate services which, in view of the confusing mix of climate change messages, raises serious concerns as to the ethics of communication and dissemination of regional climate change data.

The Working Group on Regional Climate (WGRC) of the World Climate Research Program (WCRP) oversees the CORDEX downscaling program which offers a systematic approach to compare the CMIP5 GCMs alongside RCMs and Empirical-statistical (ESD) downscaling within a common experimental design, and which facilitates the evaluation and assessment of the relative information content and sources of error. Using results from the CORDEX RCM and ESD evaluation experiment, and set against the regional messages from the CMIP5 GCMs, we examine the differing messages that arise from each data source. These are then considered in terms of the implications of consequence if each data source were to be independently adopted in a real world use-case scenario. This is then cast in the context of the emerging developments on the distillation dilemma - where the pressing need is for multi-method integration - and how this relates to the WCRP regional research grand challenges.