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Climate impacts on tourism in the south west UK

Objectives: South West Tourism used UKCP09 to investigate the likely impact on tourism comfort and seasonality, in the South West region. This informed the refresh of the regional tourism strategy Towards 2015.

UKCP09 products used: User Interface

How were UKCP09 products used?

  • Data from the UKCP09 sampled output was used for input into the tourism climate index (TCI) for each 25 km grid square in the SW region for the emission scenario, time periods, temporal averaging and probability levels specified along side.
  • The 1961-1990 baseline TCI values for each grid square were calculated using the observed information available from the Met Office website .
  • Some of the variables required for the TCI were not available within the UKCP09 sampled output dataset. These included; wind, minimum relative humidity and hours of sunshine. These variables were derived from the available variables and, in the case of wind, the baseline dataset was used to represent future wind.
  • For each 25 km grid square, a TCI score was calculated for each of the 10000 rows of sampled output. This was then plotted as a CDF of TCI scores for each 25 km grid square.  
  • From this the 10, 50 and 90th probability levels of TCI scores were identified for each grid square.
  • The results were then presented using GIS maps showing one map of the SW for each of the time periods and each of the three probability levels in the TCI scores.
  • For a more in-depth investigation of particular grid squares the Weather Generator was run for some chosen points within the SW. These runs were then analysed with the Threshold Detector to identify the change in frequency of heatwaves and heavy rain in the 2050s at particular locations.

Difficulties & limitations

  • Some of the variables required for calculating the TCI scores were not available from the UKCP09 dataset. These had to be derived, and in the case of wind, the baseline data set was used to represent the future due to the lack of projected data.
  • Extracting data for each grid square individually was labour intensive.
  • Undertaking the analysis across a region with so many datasets was difficult and time intensive.
  • It was difficult to agree the scope of the project in relation to probability levels and emission scenarios in order to retain a manageable workload.

Lessons learned

  • There is still a lot of work to be done, through further analysis and interpretation of the data that is available and in improvements of the data and information itself. More work needs to be done to explore the individual 25 km grid squares.
  • Understanding and interpreting the data took longer than expected.
  • To be useful for decision making at destination level the analysis needs to be done at the smallest level possible.
  • For minimum relative humidity, comparisons could be made between derived relative humidity with the Regional Climate Model (RCM) data released as a by-product of UKCP09 and includes 11 runs of the Hadley Centre Regional Climate Model.
  • Providing sampled output to make the uncertainties explicit works very well; it gives the user a lot of flexibility. Working with averages is still possible, but one can also analyse the characteristics of the distribution of outcomes.
  • The net CDF data that we used were very easy to process, and no obvious errors and inconsistencies were found.

How will the results be communicated to the target audience?

The full report was be made available online and promoted through the UKCIP, Climate SouthWest and South West Tourism websites and communications. A summary document and presentation was prepared highlighting the key findings, conclusions and next steps. This was circulated through tourism networks.

The results were presented to the Climate SouthWest Tourism Sector Group, Climate SouthWest Forum and South West Tourism. The results were used to inform the review of the regional tourism strategy Towards 2015 and were shared with the 9 sub-regional Destination Management Organisations.

Presentations were be made at local, regional and national events to encourage discussion and debate around the results and plans for future work.

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