Developing a ‘storylines’ approach for regional climate change information

December 21, 2021

Even with the best available projections, scientists can never be sure precisely what the future holds- this means that even with the best possible science there is a range of possible answers. These uncertainties are a normal part of modelling our future climate. But as decision-makers and stakeholders apply climate science, a key challenge is communicating what this range of possibilities could mean.

One way we deal with uncertainty is by incorporating a storylines approach. Using this approach we contextualise information. This helps create understanding about the possible impacts by relating them to episodic memory, which makes them tangible- even when these may be in a distant future climate. For example, instead of framing events as “1 in 100 year” a storyline approach would ask questions like “have we seen this before and if so when? What may the next event be like?” to contextualize information. This makes the information meaningful and means that we can explore what possible future climates may mean for lived experience and planning for the future.

Professor Ted Shephard argues there are 4 benefits to a storylines approach when representing uncertainty in the physical aspects of climate change:

1. Improved risk awareness as storylines more directly fits with how people perceive and respond to risk
2. Strengthening decision making by addressing compound risk from climate impacts
3. Providing a physical basis for uncertainty
4. Exploring the boundaries of what might happen, which can mean even unlikely but implausible events can be explored.

Want to know more?

Please join us for our webinar “Developing a ‘storylines’ approach for regional climate change information” at 10am AEDT on Tuesday 22 Feb 2022.

Professor Ted Shepherd (University of Reading) will give the keynote. Professor Shepherd is renowned for his contributions in atmospheric fluid dynamics, and is a global leader in developing the storylines approach to climate change projections.

This event is held in partnership with the ‘My Climate Risk’ lighthouse activity of the World Climate Research Programme.


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