Watch the webinar: Decision-making for African development and what it means for climate science

Faced with the continual threat of short term natural seasonal weather and climate events, along with the longer term threats of emerging climate change and associated risks, decision-makers across the world are increasingly looking to climate science to provide information to guide their strategies, planning, and implementation. The challenge to climate scientists attempting to provide this information is not lack of data. If anything there is more data than we know what to do with, though frustratingly often no data where we really need it!

No, rather, the pressing challenge is turning that data into robust, defensible information for decision-makers. This requires two processes to take place. The first is the process of working with decision-makers to determine what climate information is relevant and appropriate to their context. This is often a challenging and long process, especially in complex contexts such as African cities, where the Future Climate for Africa’s FRACTAL team are focusing their efforts.

Through scientific research, FRACTAL is contributing to improved understanding of climate processes that drive the African climate system’s natural variability and response to global change. By bringing together scientists and people who use climate information for decision-making, the project is enhancing understanding of the role of such information. FRACTAL is distilling relevant climate information that is informed by and tailored to urban decision-making and risk management. Find out more by visiting FRACTAL’s web pages.

This webinar by Dr Chris Jack of the University of Cape Town, the Principal Investigator for the FRACTAL project, focused on the second process mentioned above. He examined how we navigate the wide range of climate data sources that have the potential to be informative and the potential to misinform, including historical observation, global climate models, downscaled climate projections, and a vast array of other science analysis captured in the scientific literature and expert knowledge. Dealing with disagreements and contradictions, determining added value, constructing informative synthesis messages, and doing all of this within a co-production/co-exploration approach is a frontier area of research. Current approaches and developments were described, ideas around best practice unpacked, and ongoing challenges outlined.