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Climate change projections and spatial planning

Objectives: The Macaulay Institute used UKCP09 to develop land capability methods as adaptation tools to link climate change projections with spatial planning.

UKCP09 products used: Observed Trends; 11-member RCM; Weather Generator; User Interface

How were UKCP09 products used?

  1. The Observed climate datasets from 1960 to the present were used to produce maps investigating the influence of recent climate change on land-use capability.
  1. The 11-member RCM data was used to produce 11 Scotland-wide maps showing future spatial variation of land-use capability.
  1. The UKCP09 Weather Generator was used to explore uncertainty at individual sites (5 km grid squares) by producing and analysing the same agro-climate metrics with multiple simulations (100 runs of baseline for the 2050s medium emissions scenario) for the typical soil profile at each site.
  1. UKCP09 probabilistic data was then used to gain an indication of the relative likelihood of future change. Joint probability plots were produced relating to temperature and precipitation.

Difficulties & limitations

  • The combination of required climate parameters (potential soil moisture deficit and accumulated temperature) meant that the raw climate data from the 11-member RCM had to be manipulated to produce the required metrics.
  • Only the medium emissions scenario is available from the 11-member RCM. However, this was not important since the work is mainly looking at changes in the next 40 years so different emissions scenarios are less relevant than variations in climate sensitivity (previous work with UKCIP02 had showed this).
  • There is a large amount of data and requires time to process.

Lessons learned

UKCP09 provides uncertainty ranges which are useful for setting the UKCIP02 values in the context of the new projections. Different UKCP09 tools can be used together and all add value in a complementary way.

How will the results be communicated to the target audience?

The results were communicated through the existing Land Capability for Agriculture (LCA) system. This is well-known amongst land managers, farmers and other stakeholders so provides an excellent reference framework for communicating climate change issues.

Find out more

  • Contact details: Iain Brown, Macaulay Institute.