Using experts’ judgements to inform adaptation planning for climate change

Cities and regions around the world are facing the impacts of climate change and planning for even greater impacts in the near future. These efforts to manage water supplies, respond to sea level rise, or protect infrastructure can be informed by regional climate change projections on decadal and multi-decadal timescales. While informative, these climate change projections are also highly uncertain, and national meteorological offices and other climate services providers are searching for the best approaches to quantifying and communicating this uncertainty.

The formal elicitation of experts’ judgements is a method of uncertainty quantification that has been used widely in other areas of application, but is so far under-utilised in climate change adaptation. Expert judgements are subjective, but they are also evidence-based, and eliciting these judgements in a careful, controlled, scientific manner is often the best—or even the only— way to integrate evidence from a variety of sources. Climate scientist Erica Thompson and philosophers Roman Frigg, and Casey Helgeson argue that structured expert elicitation should now be put to use for characterising uncertainties in regional climate change projections intended to inform adaptation decisions: Expert Judgment for Climate Change Adaptation, Philosophy of Science 83 (5):1110-1121 (2016). [link to journal article] [pdf from Philpapers archive]

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