Sea Level Rise Learning Scenarios for Adaptive Decision-Making Based on IPCC AR6

Adaptation decision-scientists increasingly use real-option analysis to consider the value of learning about future climate variable development in adaptation decisions. Toward this end learning scenarios are needed, which are scenarios that provide information on future variable values seen not only from today (as static scenarios), but also seen from future moments in time. Decision-scientists generally develop learning scenarios themselves, mostly through time-independent (stationary) or highly simplified methods. The climate learning scenarios thus attained generally only poorly represent the uncertainties of state-of-the-art climate science and thus may lead to biased decisions. This paper first motivates the need for learning scenarios by providing a simple example to illustrate characteristics and benefits of learning scenarios. Next, we analyze how well learning scenarios represent climate uncertainties in the context of sea level rise and present a novel method called direct fit to generate climate learning scenarios that outperforms existing methods. This is illustrated by quantifying the difference of the sea level rise learning scenarios created with both methods to the original underlying scenario. The direct fit method is based on pointwise probability distributions, for example, boxplots, and hence can be applied to static scenarios as well as ensemble trajectories. Furthermore, the direct fit method offers a much simpler process for generating learning scenarios from static or “ordinary” climate scenarios.

Völz, V., & Hinkel, J. (2023). Sea level rise learning scenarios for adaptive decision-making based on IPCC AR6Earth’s Future11, e2023EF003662.

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