Uncertainty representations of mean sea-level change: a telephone game?

For the long-term management of coastal flood risks, investment and policy strategies need to be developed in the light of the full range of uncertainties associated with mean sea-level rise (SLR). This, however, remains a challenge due to deep uncertainties involved in SLR assessments, many ways of representing uncertainties, and a lack of common terminology for referring to these. To contribute to addressing these limitations, this paper first develops a typology of representations of SLR uncertainty by categorising these at three levels: (i) SLR scenarios versus SLR predictions, (ii) the type of variable that is used to represent SLR uncertainty, and (iii) partial versus complete uncertainty representations. Next, it is analysed how mean SLR uncertainty is represented and how representations are converted within the following three strands of literature: SLR assessments, impact assessments, and decision analyses. We find that SLR assessments mostly produce partial or complete precise probabilistic scenarios. The likely ranges in the report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change are a noteworthy example of partial imprecise probabilistic scenarios. SLR impact assessments and decision analyses mostly use deterministic scenarios. In conversions of uncertainty representations, a range of arbitrary assumptions are made, for example on functional forms of probability distributions and relevant confidence levels. The loss of quality and the loss of information can be reduced by disregarding deterministic and complete precise probabilistic predictions for decisions with time horizons of several decades or centuries, and by constructing imprecise probabilistic predictions and using these in approaches for robust decision-making.

The online version of this article is accesible here


An agent-based modeling for housing prices with bounded rationality

This study proposes an agent-based model to investigate major stakeholders behaviors in the housing market. The proposed model mimics the heterogeneous behaviors of individual buyers and sellers in a housing market considering bounded rationality. The simulation results of case study in Shanghai are robust and reproduce stylized facts including as volatility clustering, absence of autocorrelations, heavy tail, loss asymmetry, and aggregational gaussianity on the absolute return.

Access the full text here.

Investors’ Signals for 2°C

The targets of the Paris Agreement make it necessary to redirect finance flows towards sustainable, low-carbon infrastructures and technologies. Currently, the potential of institutional investors to help finance this transition is widely discussed. Thus, this paper takes a closer look at influence factors for green investment decisions of large European insurance companies. With a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, the importance of policy, market and civil society signals is evaluated. In summary, respondents favor measures that promote green investment, such as feed-in tariffs or adjustments of capital charges for green assets, over ones that make carbon-intensive investments less attractive, such as the phase-out of fossil fuel subsidies or a carbon price. While investors currently see a low impact of the carbon price, they rank a substantial reform as an important signal for the future. Respondents also emphasize that policy signals have to be coherent and credible to coordinate expectations.

Weblink to the paper: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/20430795.2018.1528809

ICT and Climate: A Digital Structure for the Energy Transition

The Global Climate Forum and Fraunhofer IEE have published a perspective on a digital structure of the energy transition in the journal “GAIA – Ecological Perspectives for Science and Society”. The work described in the article is conducted within the Kopernikus project ENavi which develops a navigation system that helps to identify and tackle critical transitions in the German Energy Transition. The Global Climate Forum, Fraunhofer IEE and its partners explores the possible roles of communication technologies in the future energy system as well the opportunities that digitalisation processes create with regard to electricity, thermal energy and mobility. In a mobile visualisation environment, GCF discusses scenario-based narratives of a transformation to a more sustainable mobility with stakeholders in an interactive setting.

Weblink to the perspective paper: https://globalclimateforum.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/GAIA4_2018_401_ENavi.pdf

New paper by K. Lucas, O. Renn, C. Jaeger and S. Yang: “Systemic Risks: A Homomorphic Approach on the Basis of Complexity Science”

Klaus Lucas, Ortwin Renn, Carlo Jaeger and Saini Yang build on a domain-overarching definition of systemic risks by highlighting crucial properties that distinguish them from conventional risks and plain disasters. They place emphasis on the
role of complexity science as a basis for unifying the phenomena of systemic risks in widely different domains.

Published in the International Journal of Disaster Risk Science, this is the third paper of K. Lucas, O. Renn and C. Jaeger of their trilogy on systemic risks. Accessible here: https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s13753-018-0185-6

Previously published papers are: (1) Renn, O., Lucas, K., Haas, A., Jaeger, C. (2017 online): Things are different today: the challenge of global systemic risks. – Journal of Risk Research, p. 1-15.DOI: http://doi.org/10.1080/13669877.2017.1409252. and (2) Lucas, K., Renn, O., Jaeger, C. (2018 online): Systemic Risks: Theory and Mathematical Modeling. – Advanced Theory and Simulations, 1800051.DOI: http://doi.org/10.1002/adts.201800051.

Global Coastal Wetlands Need to Move Inland in Fight Against Climate Change

Up to 30 per cent of coastal wetlands could be lost globally by the year 2100 with a dramatic effect on global warming and coastal flooding, if action is not taken to protect them, new research warns.

The global study, led by researchers at the University of Lincoln, UK, suggests that the future of global coastal wetlands, including tidal marshes and mangroves, could be secured if they were able to migrate further inland.

Geographers examined localised data from around the globe on coastal elevation, tides, sediment availability, coastal population and estimates of sea level rise to assess whether coastal wetlands are likely to have enough sediment to increase their elevation at the rate sea levels will rise, or whether there is enough space to establish themselves further inland.

The results show there could be global coastal wetland gains of up to 60 per cent if more than a third of the areas had space to move inland. The use of more localised data provides more accurate global results than previous estimates which warned of catastrophic losses of up to 90 per cent – but scientists say action must be taken now to save coastal wetlands from ever increasing sea levels.

The findings of the study have important implications for the future development of public policies, with the authors calling for an upscale in current efforts for coastal wetland restoration.

Coastal wetlands have a direct impact on global warming levels by helping to remove carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. They are also an important form of coastal protection, reducing the energy of waves and the intensity of storm surges, thereby reducing coastal erosion and coastal flooding.

The research was led by Dr Mark Schuerch from the University of Lincoln’s School of Geography in collaboration with the universities of Cambridge and Southampton in the UK; University of Antwerp in Belgium; Christian-Albrechts University of Kiel and Humboldt-University in Germany; Monash University in Australia; the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre; and the Global Climate Forum.

Dr Schuerch said: “Rather than being an inevitable consequence of global rising sea levels, our findings indicate that large-scale coastal wetland loss might be avoidable if sufficient additional space can be created by increasing the number of innovative ‘nature-based adaptation’ solutions to coastal management. These enable coastal wetlands to migrate inland through displacement of coastal flood defences and the designation of nature reserve buffers in upland areas surrounding coastal wetlands. If these are strategically scaled up they could help coastal wetlands adapt to rising sea levels and protect rapidly increasing global coastal populations.”

Further research is now needed to improve understanding of the adaption mechanisms of coastal wetlands to see level rise, particularly their ability to migrate inland.

The full paper, Future responses of global coastal wetlands to sea level rise, has been published in the scientific journal Nature and is available to read online. Further background information is also available in Nature and ScienceNews.

New paper by K. Lucas, O. Renn and C. Jaeger on “Systemic Risks: Theory and Mathematical Modeling”

Klaus Lucas (Institute of Technical Thermodynamics), Ortwin Renn (Institute of Advanced Sustainability Studies) and Carlo Jaeger (GCF) give a review of how insights form complexity science can be applied to the domain of systemic risks. They have identified four major properties of systemic risks: they are (1) transboundary in nature, (2) highly interconnected and intertwined leading to complex causal structures and dynamic evolutions, (3) non-linear in the cause-effect relationships showing often unknown tipping points or tipping areas and (4) stochastic in their effect structure.

The online article is published in Advanced Theory and Simulations and can be accessed on Wiley Online Library: https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/full/10.1002/adts.201800051 and here: Lucas Renn Jaeger Systemic Risks Theory and Mathematical Modeling

Citation: Lucas, K., Renn, O., Jaeger, C. (2018 online): Systemic Risks: Theory and Mathematical Modeling. – Advanced Theory and Simulations, 1800051.DOI: http://doi.org/10.1002/adts.201800051.

New Paper: O. Renn, K. Lucas, A. Haas & C. Jager undertook the effort of a conceptional clarification of Systemic Risks

Ortwin Renn, Klaus Lucas, Armin Haas & Carlo C. Jaeger
Things are different today: the challenge of global systemic risks
Journal of Risk Research, DOI: 10.1080/13669877.2017.1409252 (2017)

Paper on “the ability of societies to adapt to twenty-first-century sea-level rise” by Jochen Hinkel et al. published in Nature Climate Change

Can societies adapt to 21stcentury sea-level rise?

The ability of societies around the world to adapt to 21stcentury sea-level rise (SLR) is more likely to be dependent upon social factors, including finance, than technical capabilities.

That is the conclusion of an international team of researchers lead by Dr. Jochen Hinkel from the Global Climate Forum (GCF) in Berlin and addressed in a paper published today in the journal Nature Climate Change. Read more

Successful ICT tools for policy making

During the last years, many ICT-based tools have been developed for policy making. However, only few of them have been taken up either by policy-makers or other user groups. In order to better understand the success factors, we have conducted an extensive review of existing and successful tools such as America’s Army, MarketPlace, C-ROADS, World Climate, UrbanSim, UNEP Web Intelligence and SIMCITY. Additionally, we have incorporated our own experience in the development of ICT tools within several EU funded research projects (such as SYMPHONY). Read more