Application of the UKCIP02 climate change scenarios: Reflections and lessons learnt

Megan Gawith*, Roger Street, Richard Westaway, Anna Steynor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)

35 Citations (Scopus)


The UKCIP02 climate change scenarios have become the standard reference for climate change in the UK since their release in 2002. This paper describes and reflects on the ways in which they have been applied. It then identifies some strengths, weaknesses and barriers to their application, and extracts key lessons that may inform the development and provision of future climate change scenarios. Analysis of the application of UKCIP02 shows that the scenarios have been used primarily as a communication device, as well as for scientific research and to inform policy and decision-making on climate change. They have played a critical role in raising awareness on climate change and in engaging organisations in the need to adapt. Their presentation in an accessible style, and their availability in a variety of formats, greatly facilitated their uptake. However, analysis has also revealed weaknesses which served as barriers to their uptake. Some of these, such as file format and accessibility issues, were readily overcome through technical solutions. Others, such as the issue of how to use uncertain information in decision-making, have only been partially addressed and remain an outstanding challenge for future scenario packages. Two key lessons have emerged which may benefit the provision of future climate scenarios in the UK and elsewhere. First, it is not enough to simply make climate change scenarios available. Their provision must be accompanied by ongoing guidance and support to ensure widespread and appropriate uptake. Second, on-going dialogue between those providing scenarios and the communities using them is fundamental to constructively meet the challenges associated with delivering credible scenarios that balance user requirements and expectations with what the science can deliver.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)113-121
Number of pages9
JournalGlobal Environmental Change
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2008


  • Climate change impacts and adaptation
  • Climate change scenarios
  • UKCIP02

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