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Farming and land management

Objectives: Defra developed this mock case study (using dummy data) to provide step-by-step guidance for farmers and land managers on how to use UKCP09. This work, which is part of Defra's new adaptation project in its 'Farming for the Future' programme, will allow Defra to communicate the range of possible climate changes to farmers and land managers. They, in turn, will be able to use the information to identify their vulnerability to climate, assess their attitude to risk and make informed decisions about whether they might need to change their agricultural practices in response to climate change.

How they used UKCP09 dummy data

1. Information from the 'Climate of the UK' and 'Recent Trends Report' were used to communicate to farmers, through summary statements, what climate changes the UK has experienced to date. This will allow the farmers to assess their current vulnerability to climate, if they are aware of their vulnerability thresholds.

2. The UKCP09 national key findings were used to provide farmers with the 10-90% probability ranges for future winter precipitation and summer temperature for the 2050s assuming all three emissions scenarios. (These variables were used as an example as they will be of general relevance to all farmers and land managers. However, the process could apply to any variables that are of relevance to farmers and land managers.) This will allow the farmers to assess the probability of a threshold of importance to them being exceeded for a given emission scenario (subject to the strength of evidence).

Next steps

Farmers and land managers could use the results to consider their tolerance of risk and make a more informed decision about how to respond to climate change.

What they learnt about UKCP09

  • The full range of possible future climate changes is very large. This presents a communication challenge.
  • Understanding probabilities is not intuitive for all people and plenty of supporting information is likely to be required.
  • It is difficult to find a balance between using information that is too technical and specific versus information that is too broad for useful application.
  • In order to make full use of UKCP09, it is important that farmers and land managers know their vulnerability to climate (e.g. thresholds at which a change in a climate variable would have a significant effect on their businesses).
  • Defra will need to rely on regional bodies (such as Rural Development Agencies, Natural England regional offices, NFU and CLA regional and local offices) to do their own UKCP09 analysis using general national Defra guidance.

Find out more

  • Contact details: Kathryn Humphrey, Defra