Burning embers: towards more transparent and robust climate-change risk assessments

Zommers, Zinta, Marbaix, Philippe, Fischlin, Andreas, Ibrahim, Zelina Z., Grant, Sean, Magnan, Alexandre K., Pörtner, Hans-Otto, Howden, Mark, Calvin, Katherine, Warner, Koko, Thiery, Wim, Sebesvari, Zita, Davin, Edouard L., Evans, Jason P., Rosenzweig, Cynthia, O’Neill, Brian C., Patwardhan, Anand, Warren, Rachel, van Aalst, Maarten K. and Hulbert, Margot, (2020). Burning embers: towards more transparent and robust climate-change risk assessments. Nature Reviews Earth & Environment, 1 516-529

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  • Sub-type Journal article
    Author Zommers, Zinta
    Marbaix, Philippe
    Fischlin, Andreas
    Ibrahim, Zelina Z.
    Grant, Sean
    Magnan, Alexandre K.
    Pörtner, Hans-Otto
    Howden, Mark
    Calvin, Katherine
    Warner, Koko
    Thiery, Wim
    Sebesvari, Zita
    Davin, Edouard L.
    Evans, Jason P.
    Rosenzweig, Cynthia
    O’Neill, Brian C.
    Patwardhan, Anand
    Warren, Rachel
    van Aalst, Maarten K.
    Hulbert, Margot
    Title Burning embers: towards more transparent and robust climate-change risk assessments
    Appearing in Nature Reviews Earth & Environment
    Volume 1
    Publication Date 2020-10-09
    Place of Publication London
    Publisher Springer Nature
    Start page 516
    End page 529
    Language eng
    Abstract The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) reports provide policy-relevant insights about climate impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptation through a process of peer-reviewed literature assessments underpinned by expert judgement. An iconic output from these assessments is the burning embers diagram, first used in the Third Assessment Report to visualize reasons for concern, which aggregate climate-change-related impacts and risks to various systems and sectors. These burning embers use colour transitions to show changes in the assessed level of risk to humans and ecosystems as a function of global mean temperature. In this Review, we outline the history and evolution of the burning embers and associated reasons for concern framework, focusing on the methodological approaches and advances. While the assessment framework and figure design have been broadly retained over time, refinements in methodology have occurred, including the consideration of different risks, use of confidence statements, more formalized protocols and standardized metrics. Comparison across reports reveals that the risk level at a given temperature has generally increased with each assessment cycle, reflecting accumulating scientific evidence. For future assessments, an explicit, transparent and systematic process of expert elicitation is needed to enhance comparability, quality and credibility of burning embers.
    Copyright Holder Springer Nature Limited
    Copyright Year 2020
    Copyright type All rights reserved
    DOI 10.1038/s43017-020-0088-0
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