Short course training: Interpretation of CCE outputs

Submitted by Sukaina Bharwani | published 25th Mar 2011 | last updated 13th Jan 2020

Note: The Climate Change Explorer has now been superceded by the CSAG Climate Information Portal (CIP). The principles are the same and CIP builds on extensive user feedback from use of the Climate Change Explorer. For more information please see the Using Climate Information initiative.


In this session we briefly discussed how the outputs from the Climate Change Explorer (CCE) can be interpreted and used in project work or to support decisions. Ms. Jutatip Thanakitmetavut from SEA-START and Mr Vu Canh Toan from the National Institute for Science and Technology Policy and Strategy Studies in Vietnam both presented work they had done using outputs from the CCE. Both these participants attended the SEI-CSAG Winter School on Climate Analysis in Cape Town, and this was a chance for them to share how they had been applying the skills they learnt at the Cape Town Course.

Key points in CCE Interpretation

Change in precipitation in Jessore, Bangladesh

Change in precipitation in Jessore, Bangladesh

  • Always have a clear idea of what questions you need to ask using the tool and what is needed in order to answer these questions. See Identification of key questions for the CCE based on V-E exercise
  • Start by checking whether the model controls do a reasonable representation of the NCEP Reanalysis representation of observed climate at that station.
  • All projections are for the period 2046-2065, and for the A2 emissions scenario
  • Bear in mind that historical trends in climate are what is currently experienced, and projections are for a period 40 years in the future. Therefore it is trends that condition your immediate response whereas projections are useful for longer term planning, and to give an idea of whether trends currently experienced are likely to continue. The interaction between climate variability (e.g. on a decadal or multi-decadal scale) and the climate change signal is complex, and requires a clear understanding of the processes driving climate at your location.
  • Projections are at a station level, so shouldn't be generalised to represent wide geographic areas. If stations are available then several within a similar climatic zone can be examined to look at similarities in changes and construct a broader picture of changes for the area (see presentation from Ms. Jutatip Thanakitmetavut)
  • As the CCE shows results from a range of climate models, it is important to USE THE RANGE and not just pick results from 1-2 models. Choosing the minimum and maximum scenarios and also looking at the median values is one way to start with interpretation (see presentation from Jutatip Thanakitmetavut).
  • Treat the information as indicative rather than as providing certainties.
  • It is important not to over-interpret changes, and wherever possible use information from other sources as well, for example Regional and Global climate models, and historical trends in climate.