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UK Climate Impacts Programme

Notes from UK CIP webinar - very well run and useful introduction to UKCP09

Background - the UK is locked into a certain amount of climate change - the lowest level of change is around 2 degrees.

CP09 are the most advanced climate scenarios in the world. CP09 allows UKCIP to give a level of probability on different outcomes - building in understanding levels of uncertainty allows organisations to make a more robust decision.

Using CP09, it's very important to think about what your appetite is for risk - if you're building a nuclear power station, you might want to look at the extremes of the risk. If you're presenting to the climate change partnership, position yourself in the middle.

The widest range gives 10% probability from the lowest emissions scenario, 50% probability from the medium and 90% from the highest

Vague questions can produce very different results which make it very important to relate the emissions scenario (mean / medium / probability) with the map of the data that's being shown.

Climate scenarious have been available since 1981 - on 200km grids.  As computer power and knowledge improved, predictions evolved up untio UKCIP02.Future projections will be developed for between 5-10 years out - using the same underlying data. UKCP09 - 25km grid squares - can't average the results for two squares next to each other. Geographic regions, river basins and DEFRA marine areas have all been defined by 25km squares. The 'Weather Generator' takes the monthly data and applies change factors on daily or even hourly intervals. Hourly data requests will give you 700mb of data - and are designed for experts.

Threshold Detectors allow the system to be interrogated with questions such as "how likely is to get 10 days of >100mm rain?

Anything less than 30 years is considered as 'weather' - 30 years+ is a climatological period

A1FI - high energy high fossil fuel - through to B1 - lots of energy efficiency and a lot more renewables in the power generation sector;  up unitl the middle of this century, the different lines don't create massibely different emissions pathways, but then diverge after that

UKCP09 produces statements such as: for the the North West, under medium emissions scenarios, the central estimate of temperature increase is 3.7 degrees

EXAMPLE - Oxforshire County Council had roads melting - was this more or less likely to occur. What's the threshold? 35 degrees for more than two days. Looked at the observed trends report and saw that temperatures were increasing - likely to be a more regular occurence. They pulled together the maps and graphs, showed it to councillors who gave funding for extra research. With this, they went into the user interface and extracted the relevant data. The monthly data was not all that useful, so they went into the Weather Generator and got an insight into likely daily information. They discovered that over the next 20 years, it would happen but would not be a regular occurence. When roads cam up for renewal, they could replace them with roads of greater heat tolerance.

We're aware that communicating this message can be difficult; whilst the key findings are high level,they can still be too complex for some.  It always makes a message more powerful if there's a sense of what people can do about the threat in front of them. Four of the examples worked through during the webinar exercise were:

Group 1
Without changes to emssions levels, farmers in the West Midlands are likely to have to cope with a 4C increase in temperature by the 2050's.  This will mean planning for changes to the way crops and animals are raised in the area. At worst, temperatures could be as much as 7C higher, with much greater consequences to our food production and animal welfare. Farmers and food businesses are invited to attend the Agri Futures event in Worcester on January 12th to plan what threats and opportunities this brings to them.

Group 2
For tyre manufacturers in the West Midlands, if things carry on as they are (high emissions) the hottest day in the summer by the 2050s could be as much as 8oC higher than current temperatures. This has major implications for how we design tyres for the future

Group 3

In the West Midlands, if things go on as they are, maxmum temperatures are likely to be 4.1C higher than today.  There is uncertainty but temperatures are very unlikely to rise less than 1.6C or more than 7.2C. This can have serious implications for health in homes, schools, hospitals, offices and other buildings.  Both current and new buildings will need to adapt to higher temperatures, using low carbon measures such as insulation, natural ventilation and shading rather than air conditioning. Wider area planning, particulaly in urban areas, should consider the use of deciduous trees to shade buildings and pedestrians during the summer months, whilst allowing sunlight through in the winter months.

Group 4

For planning purposes, in the West Midlands we should be aware the likely uincrease in temperature is about 4 degrees Ceilsus. It may be as low as one degree we should be prepared for temperatures to be up to 7 degrees higher than at present.



  • You need to understand what change means to your system
  • Understand your appetite for risk and what the climate can do
  • The probabilistic nature of UKCP09 information allows better decisions to be made




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