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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

A Milestone for Impacts Science

Artist interpretation of Impacts World panel discussion on adaptation policy

Artist interpretation of Impacts World panel discussion on adaptation policy

From May 27th to 30th the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK) and the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis co-hosted the International Conference on Climate Change Effects in Potsdam Germany. Termed the first scientific conference on climate change impacts it brought together world leading scientists to discuss the state of the art. Of course, DAPA couldn’t miss such a great opportunity and joined the 360 attendees.

The conference was held within the AgMIP and ISI-MIP model intercomparison projects. These projects brought together some of the most seasoned impacts modelers to systematically compare and apply a diverse set of models. At the conference the results were shared with the prominent audience and discussed controversially. Throughout the conference one got the feeling that this could be a defining moment for impacts science. The discussions could not have been more intense, nor at a higher level.

Not only was the stated goal of the conference – to create an interdisciplinary forum to discuss the future agenda of climate impacts research – fully achieved, but the strengths and weaknesses of the current modeling approaches were revealed, thus laying a foundation towards better science. The intercomparison projects showed model strengths in agreeing on the quality of impacts of temperature and precipitation changes, but disagreed on the effect of CO2 fertilization. Taken together it was confirmed what every good modeler knows: Increasing model complexity also increases model uncertainty. We must therefore design problem specific models, identify key interactions first and do not embark on futile efforts to create a perfect world system model.

We at DAPA are therefore confident that we are on a good way forward. Smart – not overly complex – models are what we have always been doing, enabling us to give robust recommendations to policy makers. Nevertheless, as Joseph Alcamo, chief scientist at UNEP, put it: “Do we know enough to act? Yes, but we need to know more to act well.”

The organizers are working on a peer-reviewed proceedings which can be accessed here.

DAPA’s contribution “The utility of an agro-ecological niche model of coffee production for future change scenarios” can be read here.

Further impressions on Flickr, and a great speech by Rachel Kyte, World Bank on Youtube.

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