Burning embers: towards more transparent and robust climate-change risk assessments

Zommers, Zinta, Marbaix, Philippe, Fischlin, Andreas, Ibrahim, Zelina Z., Grant, Sean, Magnan, Alexandre K., Pörtner, Hans-Otto, Howden, Mark, Calvin, Katherine, Warner, Koko, Thiery, Wim, Sebesvari, Zita, Davin, Edouard L., Evans, Jason P., Rosenzweig, Cynthia, O'Neill, Brian C., Patwardhan, Anand, Warren, Rachel, van Aalst, Maarten and Hulbert, Margot (2020) Burning embers: towards more transparent and robust climate-change risk assessments. Nature Reviews Earth and Environment, 1 (10). 516–529. ISSN 2662-138X

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Abstract

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports provide policy-relevant insights about climate impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation through a process of peer-reviewed literature assessments underpinned by expert judgement. An iconic output from these assessments is the burning embers diagram, first used in the Third Assessment Report to visualize reasons for concern, which aggregate climate-change-related impacts and risks to various systems and sectors. These burning embers use colour transitions to show changes in the assessed level of risk to humans and ecosystems as a function of global mean temperature. In this Review, we outline the history and evolution of the burning embers and associated reasons for concern framework, focusing on the methodological approaches and advances. While the assessment framework and figure design have been broadly retained over time, refinements in methodology have occurred, including the consideration of different risks, use of confidence statements, more formalized protocols and standardized metrics. Comparison across reports reveals that the risk level at a given temperature has generally increased with each assessment cycle, reflecting accumulating scientific evidence. For future assessments, an explicit, transparent and systematic process of expert elicitation is needed to enhance comparability, quality and credibility of burning embers.

Item Type: Article
Uncontrolled Keywords: atmospheric science,earth-surface processes,nature and landscape conservation,pollution,sdg 13 - climate action ,/dk/atira/pure/subjectarea/asjc/1900/1902
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Depositing User: LivePure Connector
Date Deposited: 10 Sep 2020 00:07
Last Modified: 20 Oct 2021 03:10
URI: https://ueaeprints.uea.ac.uk/id/eprint/76810
DOI: 10.1038/s43017-020-0088-0

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