A new platform gives a better access to climate science for everyone.
Do you have a clear picture of what science says about past and future impacts of climate change in your country? Do you know how this knowledge has been generated and how reliable it is? The newly released open climate impacts encyclopedia ISIpedia was designed to provide state-of-the-art climate impact information by translating the latest climate impact science into understandable and informative texts.
“Understanding the problem can be a powerful tool to help build a safe climate future for all,” says Katja Frieler, ISIpedia project leader from the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research (PIK). “We are all decision makers on this topic and our decisions should ideally be based on an understanding of the problem and the latest scientific findings. That is why on ISIpedia, climate impact scientists not only provide easily accessible data condensed in maps and graphs, and crucial country-level information derived from dissecting global studies, but also insight into the analyses themselves. On ISIpedia we inform users about the research process, the methods applied, what we do not know and what we know for sure.”
The best-informed decisions
According to Frieler, ISIpedia will grow and mature as it aims to put the evidence on the table so citizens as well as businesses and policymakers, can make the best-informed decisions when it comes to acting on the climate crisis.
The articles on the new platform fall into three categories. The first is ‘observed impacts’, which includes questions such as whether the reported increase in flood induced damages is already induced by climate change.
Making climate impacts concretefor countries
The second category is ‘model evaluation’, which comprises questions around whether our tools to project climate impacts into the future are good enough. Are our crop-models, for example, able to reproduce the strong drop in maize yields that has been observed in the US at very high temperatures? The third category is ‘future projections’, which concerns the risks climate change will pose to natural systems and our societies.
ISIpedia makes climate impacts concrete on the country level. For example, policymakers and adaptation planners from Egypt can learn that under +2°C global warming scenario their country will be at the top of the ranking of people exposed to river flooding. China, a top global emitter, for instance, is on rank 24 and hence also quite exposed.
Free and open-access
The name ISIpedia is short for Inter-Sectoral Impacts Encyclopedia. It is based on research carried out under the Inter-sectoral Impact Model Intercomparison Project (ISIMIP), which is working with roughly 100 research groups worldwide.
By systematically comparing the different computer simulations of climate impacts, the project is working towards consistent robust projections of climate change impacts across different sectors and scales. The ISIpedia portal is free and open-access, and professional users can download the processed data used in the analyses as well as the raw data.
“To increase the usability of the climate impact assessments, our portal includes extensive information on how these assessments can be applied. For example, they are crucial for building a robust scientific basis in climate litigation cases or in evaluating the risks that climate change poses for the financial sector,” explains Barbara Willaarts, a researcher in the IIASA Water Security Research Group of the Biodiversity and Natural Resources Program.
Incorporating perspectives of potential users to reflect their needs in the design and development of the ISIpedia portal has been a key element in helping to maximize its practicability.
State-of-the-art climate impact assessments
“We wanted to develop the portal in a participatory manner, gathering input from dialogues between climate modelers and potential users, including policymakers and practitioners,” says Inga Menke of Climate Analytics in Berlin, who led the stakeholder engagement team. “This helped us to build trust in the data behind the portal, build capacity in how to use the data, for example, in national adaptation planning, while modelers gained a better understanding of what users need.”
In the long run, the ISIpedia portal will act as the outreach channel of the ISIMIP initiative by offering tailor-made access to state-of-the-art climate impact assessments and data. ISIpedia has been set up to become the reference for accessing consistent, multi-sector, politically relevant, and user driven climate impact simulations.
This post has first been published by IIASA.