Shepherd2018_Article_StorylinesAnAlternativeApproac.pdf (697.66 kB)
Download file

Storylines: an alternative approach to representing uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change

Download (697.66 kB)
journal contribution
posted on 27.11.2018, 12:10 by Theodore G. Shepherd, Emily Boyd, Raphael A. Calel, Sandra C. Chapman, Suraje Dessai, Ioana M. Dima-West, Hayley J. Fowler, Rachel James, Douglas Maraun, Olivia Martius, Catherine A. Senior, Adam H. Sobel, David A. Stainforth, Simon F. Tett, Kevin E. Trenberth, Bart J. van den Hurk, Nicholas W. Watkins, Robert WilbyRobert Wilby, Dimitri A. Zenghelis
As climate change research becomes increasingly applied, the need for actionable information is growing rapidly. A key aspect of this requirement is the representation of uncertainties. The conventional approach to representing uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change is probabilistic, based on ensembles of climate model simulations. In the face of deep uncertainties, the known limitations of this approach are becoming increasingly apparent. An alternative is thus emerging which may be called a ‘storyline’ approach. We define a storyline as a physically self-consistent unfolding of past events, or of plausible future events or pathways. No a priori probability of the storyline is assessed; emphasis is placed instead on understanding the driving factors involved, and the plausibility of those factors. We introduce a typology of four reasons for using storylines to represent uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change: (i) improving risk awareness by framing risk in an event-oriented rather than a probabilistic manner, which corresponds more directly to how people perceive and respond to risk; (ii) strengthening decision-making by allowing one to work backward from a particular vulnerability or decision point, combining climate change information with other relevant factors to address compound risk and develop appropriate stress tests; (iii) providing a physical basis for partitioning uncertainty, thereby allowing the use of more credible regional models in a conditioned manner and (iv) exploring the boundaries of plausibility, thereby guarding against false precision and surprise. Storylines also offer a powerful way of linking physical with human aspects of climate change.

Funding

This work was developed from a workshop sponsored by the Royal Society, with additional funding provided by the European Research Council Advanced Grant ACRCC (grant 339390).

History

School

  • Social Sciences

Department

  • Geography and Environment

Published in

Climatic Change

Citation

SHEPHERD, T.G. ... et al, 2018. Storylines: an alternative approach to representing uncertainty in physical aspects of climate change. Climatic Change, 151 (3-4), pp.555–571.

Publisher

Springer © The Authors

Version

VoR (Version of Record)

Publisher statement

This work is made available according to the conditions of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) licence. Full details of this licence are available at: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/ by/4.0/

Publication date

2018

Notes

This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.

ISSN

0165-0009

eISSN

1573-1480

Language

en

Usage metrics

Keywords

Licence

Exports