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The development of UKCP09

The process of developing UKCP09 began in 2002 with an initial meeting between Defra, the Met Office Hadley Centre and the UK Climate Impacts Programme ( UKCIP ) to discuss possible improvements which might be introduced following the publication of the UKCIP02 scenarios. In 2004, Defra agreed to fund the new projections based on proposals from the Met Office. At the same time, Defra conducted an independent review of the work of UKCIP which noted that the scientific and technical quality of the UKCIP02 scenarios was high, and that they were widely used and respected. However, the review noted that:

"for many stakeholders the main issue is that uncertainties with the scenario-based information mean that the level of confidence which can be placed in them is still not sufficient to justify major adaptation decisions".

Recognising that uncertainties will always be part of exploring possible futures the review suggested that, for the upcoming UKCP09 projections, results should consider the nature of the uncertainties and make them more transparent to users. The review also suggested that the projections should:

  • Make uncertainty more transparent;
  • Include more than just the Met Office climate model; and
  • Provide more information on extremes.

Responding to these challenges has been a driving force in creating the UKCP09 projections.

The involvement of other organisations in the development of UKCP09 grew substantially after 2004. By the time of launch in 2009 more than 70 individuals representing 34 organisations had contributed directly to the development of UKCP09. Broadly, input was centred on those involved in creating UKCP09 products; those offering scientific advice; and representatives of the user community. 

UKCP09 Management Groups

The number of organisations involved in UKCP09 meant that the initial Steering Group, which first met in 2006, became too large to operate effectively. This led to the formation of a three-group management team (illustrated below). The Steering Group maintained overall accountability for the project (with Defra acting as Senior Responsible Officer).

The decisions made by the Steering Group were informed by a Project Management Group covering the day to day technical management of the project (chaired by Defra), and a stakeholder led Users' panel to input stakeholder needs to the decision making process (chaired by UKCIP). Clear roles for each of the groups were achieved through defined terms of reference, set communication pathways, and individuals from Defra, Met Office and UKCIP sitting on all three groups. The management process since 2006 has involved Steering Group meetings twice a year, Project Management Group meetings every two months and the Users' Panel meeting on average every four months.

A key feature of the development of UKCP09 was the interaction between the scientific community who developed the projections and the stakeholder community who use them. The management group structure was designed to ensure that both had a voice on major decisions (through the Project Management Group and the Users' Panel, respectively) and to ensure, as far as possible, that while remaining scientifically valid, the outputs meet user requirements. The Steering Group mediated between these two groups, with Defra having final decision-making authority.

UKCP09 programme structure

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                 In April 2012 the Environment Agency took on responsibility for managing the online delivery of the UK Climate Projections as part of the Climate Ready Programme. The UKCP09 website is now managed by the Environment Agency in partnership with the Met Office.