European stakeholders help shape HELIX
HELIX's first stakeholder workshop, written by Asher Minns
On 14 May 2014, eleven expert users of climate change data and information gathered at a Hotel opposite Exeter’s Cathedral Green. The 'Exeter Eleven' are experts engaged with information about high-end climate impacts and adaptation beyond 2 degrees. The purpose of the meeting is to guide the approaches and practice and methods of HELIX through the first formal consultation with stakeholders. Discussions were wide-ranging and high-level about Adaptation; Level and Timing of Warming; Impacts; Research Approach; and Communication, providing excellent opportunity for framing HELIX as it moves forward. The questions posed were drawn from across the HELIX leaders and we thank the Exeter Eleven for steering HELIX by giving generously of their time and expertise.
The stakeholders have fed-back on the first draft of this document. The main findings will be discussed by HELIX Leaders, and in particular people working on modelling of climate impacts across sectors, to see where stakeholder expectations are matched with research goals and what ideas need further iteration with the research. HELIX will be checking-in with its European stakeholders formally and informally as the project progresses. Stakeholder workshops of different formats and levels of detail are also taking place in Senegal, Kenya, India and Bangladesh.
For balancing stakeholder expectations of what can be incorporated within HELIX, it is noted that HELIX is a global assessment and focusing at regions – Europe, South Asia and Sub-Saharan Africa. Its sister research projects RISES-AM and IMPRESSIONS are European local-scale and multi-scale. All three projects are sharing information gained from their stakeholder engagement.
Goal 1) To identify sources of observed (or, if necessary, re-analysis) climate and impacts data for Europe and to select example extreme events for examination based on
- availability of data
- relevance to stakeholders
A priority for HELIX is that it delivers results that are of relevance to stakeholders and HELIX outputs are communicated in a way that is relevant to stakeholders. It is the task of HELIX Leaders to establish if data is available that is useful to stakeholders (and stakeholders to let HELIX know what they want – the purpose of this workshop). Stakeholders considered that indirect effects are as important as direct impacts, and suggested looking at decision points instead of sectors and to focus on extremes as it is these that drive incremental and non-linear adaptation.
HELIX response: HELIX Leaders are engaged in the discussion of this issue, to select relevant examples which enable cross-sectorial analysis. Climate modelling traditionally looks at data, impacts and adaptation within sectors.To date, there is a number of daily gridded datasets available for Europe, including meteorological and climatic variables. These can be grouped in classes depending on whether they are derived by 1) Global Circulation Models (GCMs) in reanalysis mode, 2) interpolation of point measurements or 3) satellite and weather radar mosaics. . Considering the spatial and temporal resolution of the impact models used in the WP7, together with the time span of simulation, the EFAS-Meteo dataset of the European Commission (JRC) and the WATCH Forcing Data methodology applied to ERA-Interim data (WFDEI) are deemed suitable datasets to be used within our models validation. These will be used to assess the performance of the HELIX impact models against past extreme events over Europe, particularly on recent events affecting several countries. Some relevant examples are the Central Europe floods in June 2013 and the Southeast Europe floods in May 2014. Additional events will be considered for the evaluation of impact models focusing on other climate hazards.
Goal 2) …Covering as many as possible Global Framework for Climate Services priority sectors like water, food security, etc...)
Analysis of traditional scientifically abstract biophysical sectors was challenged by stakeholders. They considered the linkages and interactions between sectors, physical and socioeconomic as the priority. They suggested looking at decision points within a sector or multiple sectors or life cycle analysis that are affected by climate, and then analysing impacts and adaptation at those decision points.
HELIX response: This is a similar challenge related to Goal 1 and will be discussed by HELIX Leaders. For an example, where does climate impact a single food-crop during its life-cycle, from planting through to wholesale? It is noted that this systems approach unifies water, food security, and other sectors or themes into a manageable commodity rather than an abstract socio-environmental concept. While HELIX might not have results that can be refined to this operational level, in combination with its sister projects it might be possible. HELIX will discuss these issues with IMPRESSIONS for pursuing with its finer-scaled soci-economic research and stakeholders.
Goal 3) To select a coherent set of climate and socio-economic scenarios that lead to high levels of warming
There was discussion about long-term and near-term information needed for different decisions and different stakeholders, highlighting the requirement for decision-centred information versus top-down scenario-based information, highlighted above. The idea of moving future baselines was discussed for capturing future society, instead of working from a static present or past baseline. Consistency of scenarios across sectors was considered essential.
HELIX response: The choice of climate projections was driven by the focus on high-end scenarios of HELIX and of WP7 simulations on Europe in particular, which assume the reaching of 4 degree warming before the end of the current century. To this end, a set of EURO-CORDEX simulations will be used for the impact analysis, focusing on the Representative Concentration Pathways (RCP) 8.5. Moving or static baselines was not resolved and needs further iteration. This goal also highlights the tension between government decisions on climate policy which in theory have longer-term horizons than operational decision-makers who make decisions in the shorter-term. Developing internally coherent and consistent scenarios is a main aim of HELIX.
Goal 4) To develop scenarios of locally-applicable potential adaptation strategies, consistent with the shared-socio economic pathways (SSPs) where possible but also grounded in local knowledge.
Integration and linkages between impacts, scale and timelines and understanding the value-based nature of adaptation are considered most important for understanding how impacts data ties to adaptation decisions by stakeholders. Better understanding of extreme impacts and adaptation is important. It is extremes that lead to adaptation decisions. The limits to adaptation should also be considered.
HELIX response: These social, cultural and human-centred aspects of adaptation are consistent with HELIX objectives but HELIX is focused more on the data for adaptation than the values. The matching between specific warming levels (SWLs) and the SSPs is a key decision of the project and the consequent interpretation of results. It seems that the SWL of 2°C could be associated with SSP3 (the one with the lowest global GDP level), while the SSP5 can be related to a SWL for 4°C and beyond, as assumed in HELIX. Goal 4 will be further discussed with the relevant expertise within and outside of HELIX, including sister projects.