Climate Projections FAQ

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Daniels, Amy, Morrison, James F., Joyce, Linda A., Crookston, Nicholas L., Chen, Shyh-Chin, and McNulty, Steven G.
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Climate scenarios offer one way to identify and examine the land management challenges
posed by climate change. Selecting projections, however, requires careful consideration
of the natural resources under study, and where and how they are sensitive to climate.
Selection also depends on the robustness of different projections for the resources
and geographic area of interest, and possibly on what climate projections are
available for a region. Rather than a misguided attempt to identify the "most
accurate" climate scenario, managers are strongly encouraged to explore variability
through the use of multiple climate scenarios. Considering a range of possible
future climates facilitates the identification of management strategies to help
ensure resilience of natural resource systems across a broad set of potential
conditions. Downscaling climate projections increases the spatial resolution of
climate information and can make projections more relevant to natural resource
managers by allowing decision-makers to better visualize what these different
futures imply locally and regionally. The following series of questions describes
key concepts that end-users of climate projection projcts should understand to
appropriately interpret downscaled climate projections, including various sources
of uncertainty. The selection used for each component of a downscaled climate
projection has implications for interpreting the resulting climate scenario.
Understanding the merits and limitations of the downscaling method employed
is also key since downscaling approaches vary in their dependence on observed data
availability, computational requirements, and in resultant uncertainty owed to
biases of the method or the spatial scale of the downscaling.


Daniels, A., J. F. Morrison, L. A. Joyce, N. L. Crookston, S.-C. Chen, and S. G. McNulty. 2012. Climate Projections FAQ. Rocky Mountain Research Station, U.S. Forest Service. Retrieved from