Making decisions under the risks and uncertainties of future climates

TitleMaking decisions under the risks and uncertainties of future climates
Publication TypeReport

Project Page   Final Report

Year of Publication2012
AuthorsRandall, A, Capon, T, Sanderson, T, Merrett, D, Hertzler, G
InstitutionNational Climate Change Adaptation Research Facility
CityGold Coast
ISBN Number978-1-921609-65-7
Keywordsadaptation decisions, climate science outputs, decision frameworks, psychology

Climate is a key driver of complex human and natural systems. Weather uncertainty has always provided challenge enough to real-world decision makers, but it was perceived as classical uncertainty derived from stable systems that we just did not understand well enough. Climate change introduces non-stationarity, altering in fundamental ways the structure of decision problems in important areas of private and public life and compounding uncertainty at every level, from global projections to the construction of climate scenarios.

This project was motivated by a perception that a ‘gap’ exists between climate science output and end-user needs. End-users of climate science information typically are charged with planning and/or managing some subset of human and natural systems at a local or regional scale. Thus there are at least three sources of a possible ‘gap’:

    • from an end-user perspectiveclimate science outputs might be too inaccurate and/or imprecise;
    • they may be pertinent to more aggregated systemsperhaps at a larger geographical scale, than those for which most end-users are responsible, and;
    • they may be only one among many kinds of information that end-users must consider in making decisions about the complex human and natural systems they are tasked with managing.

This project was designed to address these issues by improving our understanding of any gaps that may exist between climate science outputs and the needs of decision makers, and suggesting decision making frameworks and tools that may be useful to decision makers. To that end, we present a review of decision making under climate uncertainty, which examines:

    1. the nature of uncertainties likely in the presence of climate change,
    2. the psychology at work in decision making under uncertainty,
    3. the potential for decision frameworks and tools to help structure end-users adaptation decisions, and;
    4. additional characteristics of decision problems relevant to climate change adaptation decisions.
Refereed DesignationRefereed