How can we better adapt to our changing climate?

05 January 2015

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The extreme weather events we are experiencing in the UK and abroad are beginning to have profound impacts on our daily lives and the way we do business. A better understanding of the changing risks of these events will help inform our ability to make decisions on a range of scales and in a variety of capacities, like informing planning decisions on flood defence or national government on identifying potentially vulnerable communities. The work of the Oxford Martin School's Professor Myles Allen and his research team is leading the development of tools that will help us in this field, and also in understanding how people can use the science to make meaningful decisions.

One of the recent projects that the team have begun working on is exploring the potential development of operational services on a real-time basis of extreme weather events in Europe. This includes carrying out analysis of events and developing sector relevant ‘statements’ detailing studies and changing likelihood in such a way as to inform decision makers. The project, European Climate and weather Events: Interpretation and Attribution (EUCLEIA) is a three-year, EU funded project drawing on the expertise of 11 research institutes in Europe.

A fundamental premise of the project is that is should both informed by, and developed alongside those who will ultimately use the services developed during the project. To this end a series of stakeholder workshops will be held over the course of the project in the UK, France and Germany, with the first one in the UK held in November 2014 at the Oxford Martin School.

The meeting brought together an invited small group of stakeholders from a range of sectors including: finance, international and UK policy, health, law, disaster risk reduction, climate and hydrological services.

Dr Pete Walton said: "Attendees were encouraged to share their thoughts and experiences of how their organisation and the wider sector are currently using information on weather extremes, along with identifying the current limitations. Participants were then asked to consider what future weather event services would look like to their sector, and what the project needs to consider when developing the science. Interestingly, the overriding message was one of how the information is communicated, with a number of key issues regarding graphics, language and format coming to the fore.

"It is clear that there is a positive demand for the science, but that there are many challenges to be addressed in order to make the science useable in a meaningful way for decision makers."