Using Climate Information
Knowledge and information about climate change are crucial for climate action.
In order to be successful, adaptation strategies need to make use of the best available climate information, including assessments of recent climatic trends and projected future climate change that may be experienced in the years to come.
The climate information needed by local level communities and national governments includes how climate variables such as temperature and rainfall, and the timing and severity of storms and climate extremes may change. In order to be both useful and used, this information needs to be timely, high quality, relevant and accessible. Meeting these needs is the focus of an emerging field called climate services, which aims to bridge the gap between climate science, policy and practice for adaptation decision-making and disaster resilience.
This theme, which connects to SEI's Climate Services Initiative, provides some basic climate science background, guidance for understanding and using climate data, insights for effectively communicating climate change, research and examples of how climate information can be integrated into decision-making across levels, and knowledge for the design, implementation and evaluation of effective climate services.
Contribute to the development of climate services: SEI would very much appreciate input from climate service users, intermediaries or providers on current issues and the future direction of climate services. Please share your views through the online survey here.
Climate science is a vast and complicated area of research. If you are not a climate scientist or meteorologist yourself but you need to engage them and/or the data and the information they produce, then it may be useful to familiarise yourself with some basics of the science of climate change. This category contains some basic climate science background, including frequently asked questions (FAQs) from the IPCC and climate projections and their interpretation.
Some basics of the science of climate change.
IPCC FAQ 11.1 - This material is extracted from the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group 1
If Emissions of Greenhouse Gases are Reduced, How Quickly do Their Concentrations in the Atmosphere Decrease?
IPCC FAQ 10.3: This material is extracted from the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group 1
How Likely are Major or Abrupt Climate Changes, such as Loss of Ice Sheets or Changes in Global Ocean Circulation?
IPCC FAQ 10.2: This material is extracted from the Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) section of the Fourth Assessment Report of the International Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Working Group 1
Are Extreme Events, Like Heat Waves, Droughts or Floods, Expected to Change as the Earth’s Climate Changes?
Are the Increases in Atmospheric Carbon Dioxide and Other Greenhouse Gases During the Industrial Era Caused by Human Activities?
How do Human Activities Contribute to Climate Change and How do They Compare with Natural Influences?
Accessing Managing and Using Climate Information
Climate information plays a central role in the planning and development of robust adaptation strategies at all levels, and in advising decision- or policy-makers on climate-sensitive matters. Here, you will find information on and examples of how to access, manage and use climate information, including an 8-step guidance on using the linked resources available in weADAPT and the Climate Information Portal (CIP) developed by the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG), at the University of Cape Town, and information on how to use downscaled climate data and how to handle climate model uncertainty.
This is a theoretical case study representing a guide in how to use CIP in analysing historical and future rainfall patterns in the Swartland region in South Africa.
This report provides peacebuilding practitioners with guidance for accessing and using climate data and information in fragile contexts.
Using climate information to support adaptation planning and policy-making: A practical case study in Bagamoyo District, coastal Tanzania.
Using climate information to support adaptation planning and policy-making: A case study in Cape Town, South Africa
Using climate information to support adaptation planning and policy-making: A case study in Cape Town, South Africa
8-step guidance on using climate information.
[Placemark] This study analysed the capacity of 20 weather observation stations in providing reliable and adequate climate data for effective climate change adaptation in the Lake Chilwa Basin.
This study analysed the capacity of 20 weather observation stations in providing reliable and adequate climate data for effective climate change adaptation in the Lake Chilwa Basin, Malawi.
Communicating Climate Change
Effective climate communication is essential for increasing the awareness and acknowledgement of climate risks and the uptake of climate services, from helping communities understand how climate change will impact their lives to getting buy-in for climate-relevant initiatives from decision- and policy-makers across scales. The content included here provides good practice insights for how to communicate various aspects of climate change, such as how to communicate climate uncertainty and novel ways in which to convey climate impacts (e.g. the IMPACT@C web-atlas).
A new toolkit from the Raising Risk Awareness project aims to help journalists and communicators report on the linkages between climate change and extreme weather events.
Per Espen Stoknes outlines the principal barriers and solutions to getting people to think long-term about climate change and to take action to reduce it.
This report summarises the research underpinning climatevisuals.org and presents the key findings so that practitioners can take an evidence-based approach to visual communication.
This brief synthesizes the “state of the art” on climate communication and highlights important questions and challenges that warrant further exploration, particularly regarding European policy
The Uncertainty Handbook provides guidance on 12 practical and easy-to apply principles for smarter communication about climate change uncertainties.
Adapting to a changing climate in Southern Africa: A film from the first Southern Africa Adaptation Colloquium
This short film captures the key messages and debates emerging from the first Southern Africa Adaptation Colloquium, held in November 2013.
This article provides guidance on how to build a message about changes in the regional climate (rather than the global climate).
Climate Information in Decision-Making
Factoring climate information into decision-making across scales is central to reducing vulnerability in the short, medium and long-term. This is particuarly the case in development strategies and planning, where the failure to include climate information in decision-making can result in lock-in to maladaptative pathways. The content included here looks at the use of climate information in decision-making, including how it is being used in decision-making, and how it can be mainstreamed into development planning. For more on relevant methods, tools and approaches see the Adaptation Decision Making theme.
This article shares the first comprehensive review of sectoral applications of S2S predictions, highlighting the opportunities and challenges facing their uptake.
HyCRISTAL: Integrating Hydro-Climate Science Into Policy Decisions For Climate-Resilient Infrastructure and Livelihoods in East Africa
HyCRISTAL's goal is to understand the challenges and context of climate change impact at local level and to inform local-based solutions. The research focuses on East Africa.
This Future Climate For Africa report presents an overview of climate trends across regions of Africa and a series of climate factsheets that are tailored for specific sub-regions and countries.
Hazard Support aims to develop new methods for decision-makers and climate experts to tailor information about the impacts of climate change on natural hazards for adaptation decisions.
This study explores ways in which climate change knowledge management in Nepal can be strengthened at the local to national level.
The Future Climate For Africa UMFULA project - Uncertainty reduction in models for understanding development applications
The UMFULA project (meaning ‘river’ in Zulu) aims to support decision-making through providing new and more reliable information about climate processes and extremes in Central and Southern Africa.
Mainstreaming climate information into sector development plans: the case of Rwanda’s tea and coffee sectors
This report demonstrates the use of climate information in assessing adaptation needs and adaptation interventions. It also outlines changes in thinking as adaptation moves from theory to practice.
FRACTAL is a 4-year project with the aim to advance scientific knowledge about Southern Africa's climate, and integrate this knowledge into decisions at the city-regional scale.
This manifesto describes the essential role of climate knowledge brokers in helping people make climate sensitive decisions fully informed by the best available climate knowledge.
Promoting the use of climate information to achieve long-term development objectives in sub-Saharan Africa: Results from the Future Climate For Africa scoping phase
FCFA Pilot: Actual and Potential Weather and Climate Information Needs for Development Planning in Malawi: Results of a Future Climate for Africa Pilot Case Study
This FCFA pilot study in Zambia sought to examine how to make climate science actionable, so decision-makers could make informed and robust adaptation and development investments.
Future Climate for Africa: How is climate information being factored into long-term decision-making in Africa?
Does climate information matter? An innovative tool to measure the value of climate services for farmers
Exploring the role of climate science in supporting long-term adaptation and decision-making in sub-Saharan Africa
Designing Delivering and Evaluating Effective Climate Services
Climate services involve the timely production, tailoring, translation and transfer of climate information, ensuring that the most relevant knowledge is effectively communicated, easily accessed and interpreted in order to develop policies and evaluate adaptation and mitigation strategies. The content provided here provides insights and guidance into how to deliver climate services that take into account user needs and that use highly participatory methods to co-produce and co-evaluate the service, ensuring that the information and process is truely tailored, and thereby of maximum benefit, to the user.
From texts about pests to climate podcasts for women farmers, this article provides the lessons learnt, useful examples and insights from panellists at a COP22 event co-hosted by SEI.
This paper summarises and assesses existing weather and climate information for BRACED programme countries, including existing climate services and problems in the use of the available information.
This report examines the evolving role of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) in the production, communication and uptake of climate information.
A learning event held in February 2016, in Nairobi, shared good practices and key challenges associated with providing climate and weather information services.
Using climate information to achieve long-term development objectives in coastal Ghana and Mozambique
This policy brief describes a ‘co-exploration’ approach to identifying climate change adaptation needs in Accra, Ghana, and Maputo, Mozambique.
Assessing Mali’s L’agence Nationale De La Météorologie’s (Mali Meteo) Agrometeorological Advisory Program: Final Report on the Farmer Use of Advisories and Implications for Climate Service Design
Marks the completion of the first detailed assessment of the function and impact of an operational climate services for development program, Mali Meteo's Agrometeorological Advisory Program.
Assessing Climate Service Needs In Kaffrine, Senegal: Livelihoods, Identity, And Vulnerability To Climate Variability and Change
Climate services have the potential to reduce precipitation and temperature-related risks to agricultural production, boost agricultural yields, and build resilience in rural populations.
Scaling up climate services for farmers: Mission Possible- Learning from good practice in Africa and Asia
This report presents lessons learned from 18 case studies across Africa and South Asia that have developed and delivered weather and climate information and related services for smallholder farmers.
Reflection on the Third International Conference on Climate Services (2013), where CGIAR showed donors, researchers and practitioners how climate services can work for smallholder farmers.
Capacity Building for Climate Services
Strengthening user's confidence in climate services and their own ability to interpret and use them is key to achieving greater individual and collective engagement with climate services, the mainstreaming of climate information in decision-making and for obtaining buy-in to support the developmnent of climate services. The content included here provides insights into, and methods for capacity building for climate services across levels.
The project aims to improve the ability of climate models to capture African climate systems, and thereby better enable decision-makers in Africa to use climate information.
A collaborative project trains communicators to disseminate climate information services and advisories to smallholder farmers.
SEI Oxford and SEI Asia have been managing a Sida programme support project in South East Asia focused on strengthening climate adaptation planning for small island communities.
Climate Services Initiatives
Climate services are varied in their structure and objectives. Here you will find different examples of climate services projects, alongside details including how and why they have been developed, the lessons that have been learnt during this process and the outcomes that have been achieved.
Soil moisture and temperature are critical to seed survival. This method, developed by a joint USAID-UNDP project, determines the best intervals for sowing wheat using meteorological data.
Regional Climate Change Projections and Impact Analyses
Global warming is resulting in climate change that is not homogenous across the globe but that has a high degree of spatial variability, impacting different regions in very different ways. The climate change analyses included here show the geographical diversity of climate change projections, and what impacts might be expected in different regions. To see related work on vulnerability assessments, approaches and methods, including impacts on sectors, see the Vulnerability theme.
On Thursday 19 May 2016, the Indian city of Phalodi reached 51°C. The Raising Risk Awareness project studied whether human-induced climate change had any role to play in the extreme weather.
The paper assesses whether an extreme rainfall event in Chennai could in part be attributed to human emissions of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and related climate change.
The AMMA-2050 team will investigate how physical processes interact to cause ‘high impact weather events’ such as storms and heat waves that affect lives and livelihoods.