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UKCP18 Project Q&A

When will there be a new set of projections?

Is UKCP09 out of date?

Why are the projections being updated? 

How will the new projections be the same/different to UKCP09?

Will there be new information about how the climate of the UK is already changing?

Are the new projections going to be peer reviewed?

I am a user of climate projections - can I get involved in the project?

How can I find out more?

When will there be a new set of projections?

Defra has commissioned a new set of climate projections for the UK. These will provide information on how the climate of the UK may change over the rest of this century.

The new projections will be available from 2018 to inform the Government's third Climate Change Risk Assessment (due for completion in 2022) and subsequent revisions to the National Adaptation Programme. The new projections will also be an important source of information for other UK organisations that have to manage climate risks to their assets and operations.

The new climate projections will replace the current set of projections (UKCP09) as the official UK Climate Projections.

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Does that mean that UKCP09 is out of date?

No, until the new projections are available the UK Climate Projections released in 2009 remain the official source of information on how the climate of the UK may change over the rest of this century.

A study by the Met Office shows that UKCP09 continues to provide a valid assessment of the UK climate and can still be used for adaptation planning. The only instance where the Met Office advises users to supplement UKCP09 with additional information is when planning for changes in summer rainfall. More information can be obtained from the UKCP09 technical helpdesk managed by the Environment Agency.

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So why are the projections being updated then?

Our understanding and ability to model the climate system is continually improving. Since the release of UKCP09 there have been developments in scientific understanding and climate modelling and there is more observational data that we can use. The new projections will incorporate these improvements to ensure that Government and organisations have access to the most up-to-date information on the future climate of the UK.

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How will the new projections be the same/different to UKCP09?

In broad terms, the new projections will follow a similar scientific and methodological approach as that used in UKCP09 and many of the products that users are familiar with will continue to be available in the new set of projections. Importantly UKCP18 will continue to present future climate variables as probability distributions (pdfs) to express the uncertainty that is inherent in modelling the climate system and ensure that users understand the range of futures that are possible. The pdfs will incorporate the latest understanding of climate science and the most recent observational data.

However, UKCP18 will also include a number of innovations that will enhance the utility of the current projections. To complement the pdfs - and in response to user feedback - 11 to 30 plausible pathways of future climate will be provided derived from an ensemble of runs from the Met Office climate model. These runs will give users a range of scenarios to undertake impact assessments and test their adaptation plans against. The UKCP18 project will also carry out some very high resolution modelling (<5km) to provide information beyond the capabilities of UKCP09 on how certain types of weather event could change in future, particularly in relation to localised heavy rainfall events in summer which are often associated with flash flooding.

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Will there be new information about how the climate of the UK is already changing?

Yes, the Met Office will publish an annual State of the Climate report under the banner of the UK Climate Projections. This will report on observed trends in the climate and whether these can be attributed to increasing greenhouse gas emissions. The first of these reports was published in September 2015.

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Are the new projections going to be peer reviewed?

Yes, an independent peer review panel is being established to assess the quality of the science and methods that will underpin the new projections. Once appointed, a list of the members of the peer review panel will be published on the UK Climate Projections website.

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I am a user of climate projections - can I get involved in the project?

Yes, we want users to work with the scientists to make the projections as useable as possible. The success of the new projections will, in part, be measured by how useable they are for improving our understanding of climate risks and informing adaptation decisions at national and local scales.

The UKCP18 project will be informed by two user groups to ensure that user requirements and experience inform the production of the new projections.

The first group will be for Government Departments and government agencies. The second group will be for other stakeholders, including those in academia, consultancies, businesses and the third sector. The chairs of both groups will be members of the UKCP18 Governance Board to ensure that user feedback can informs project decisions.

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How can I find out more?

You can find out the latest information on UKCP18 from the UKCP09 website, where regular updates will be posted. Or you can contact the UKCP09 technical helpdesk.

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