Developing an Excel spread sheet tool for local governments to compare and prioritise investment in climate adaptation

Adaptation Research Grants Program
Researcher/s: 
Stefan Trueck
Institution/s: 
Macquarie University
Year Started: 
2011

Abstract from final report:

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), the globally-recognised reference body for climate-related research, describes warming of the climate system as ‘unequivocal’. The changing climate is likely to result in the occurrence of more frequent and intense extreme weather events. This demands preventative and preparatory actions (mitigation and adaptation) from all levels of government including local governments. No matter how robust the mitigation responses will be, adaptation actions will still be required to prepare for the already committed changes on the climate.

The study of climate extremes is particularly important because of their high impact nature. Analysis of the extreme events are challenging because of their rare occurrences resulting in very few past observations that can help in any statistical analysis or conclusions. Currently available climate projections especially for extreme events at local scales are associated with a wide range of uncertainties. Apart from that, analysis and damage assessment of the extremes over a period of time also present a lot of uncertainties related to economic analysis (e.g. discount rate, growth rate) and the unknown future.

Unfortunately, often end users do not understand the range of uncertainties surrounding the research outputs they use for extreme events. This research project was designed to develop a pilot tool to enable end users to analyse and prepare for extreme events in a less predictable, complex world. Due to the lack of historical data, the tool relies on expert judgements on the frequency and severity of such events. It is important to point out that the results of the analysis are highly dependent on the quality of these judgements such that the reliability of the results depends on finding appropriate experts in the field who can provide appropriate estimates for frequency and impact of the considered events. The Tool uses a combination of quantitative (Cost-Benefit Analysis) and qualitative (Multi-Criteria Analysis) methods to frame the decision support Tool. The current version of the Tool allows users to conduct sensitivity tests, examine the impact of uncertain parameters ranging from climate impacts to discount rates. The final product is a user-friendly decision tool in the form of an Excel add-in together with a user manual booklet that demonstrates sample worked out projects. The Tool is made flexible so that stakeholders can adopt or refine or upgrade it for their context specific applications.

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