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Decision and Policy Analysis Research Area – DAPA

The four big gaps in climate science

There’s a great synthesis article out in Nature which outlines the four major knowledge gaps that we have in climate science.  Apparently there are 54 key uncertainties cited in the IPCC fourth assessment report, but the big ones according to Nature are:

  • Bringing future scenarios down to a scale relevant for adaptation, namely through regional climate modelling
  • Precipitation changes are still wildly variable between models
  • The role of aerosols in driving climate change
  • Accuracy of re-constructed paleoclimates from tree rings

Certainly the first two are close to DAPA’s heart.  The issue of downscaling of global climate models (GCMs) is central to the design of any agricultural adaptation.  In the agricultural community we need climate data that a) is at a relevant scale, and agriculture is a niche business – we’re talking 1km or better, b) contains variables such as temperature and precipitation, but also solar radiation and relative humidity, c) is near-term (anything beyond 2030 is too long-term for meaningful adaptation in developing country agriculture), and d) is high in certainty.  Not asking too much, right?

We’re working with national and international organisations to try and bridge the gap between what climate science can offer, and what agricultural science demands.  This is incidentally also a central objective of the Challenge Program on Climate Change, Agriculture and Food Security (CCAFS), with whom we’ll have close contact.

For more background on our downscaling work aimed at getting more regionally relevant predictions, and improved precipitation scenarios, you can see a slideshare presentation (in spanish) for the Colombian context:

Thanks to the California Academy of Science Climate Change Blog for the link!

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