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Project Abstract

The themes of uncertainty, extremes and climate and health contain key research gaps in advancing climate impact assessment science. However, in order for any scientific information to be useful in decision-making it must be credible, legitimate, and salient in the decision context at hand (Clark and Dickson 1999). This seemingly straightforward requirement contains a myriad of difficulties for bridging the science-society interface and effectively informing societal decisions. To address this challenging goal, the initiative will initiate a fourth component that will focus on decision-making specifically, examining the problem of uncertainty from the perspective of the decision-maker, as a complement to the scientific perspective in the themes listed above. The objectives of this component are to develop a systematic approach to determining where the decision-making environment is particularly sensitive to uncertainty in the information provided—i.e. when does uncertainty matter? This approach can be visualized as working backward from a given impact or decision-making problem to trace the information pathways relevant to the decision—jumping up backward through the "cascade of uncertainties" as it were. This initiative will examine the usefulness of an "end-to-end" characterization of uncertainty and alternate approaches in climate change research relevant to climate impacts and decision-making on various spatial scales (i.e. national/international policy through to regional and local resource management).


Project Leads

  • Linda Mearns, Project Lead
    Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, NCAR
  • Lisa Dilling, Project Lead
    Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, NCAR
  • Susanne Moser, Project Lead
    Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, NCAR

For more information about this project, please contact Linda Mearns at:, Lisa Dilling at:, or Susanne Moser at:

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NCAR Weather and Climate Impact Assessment Science Initiative