18 May 2015

IPCC Expert Meeting: Climate research community looks into future scenarios

IIASA plays host to climate experts this week, who are meeting to discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios for climate research.

© Lightpoet | Dreamstime.com

© Lightpoet | Dreamstime.com

GENEVA, May 18 – Climate experts will meet near Vienna, Austria, on 18-20 May 2015 at an Expert Meeting of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) to discuss and further develop new socioeconomic scenarios as shared tools for climate research. 

Experts from the climate change research community will meet with representatives of the IPCC at the meeting hosted by the International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA) in Laxenburg, Austria. 

“We use scenarios much like testing probes to explore future societal developments and their consequences for climate and the environment,” said Keywan Riahi, who leads IIASA’s energy program and is convening the Expert Meeting. He is also a lead author of the IPCC’s Fifth Assessment Report (AR5) on the mitigation of climate change. “The scenarios that were assessed by the IPCC have proven vital for the AR5. This expert meeting will have a detailed look at a new generation of scenarios and framework that the climate change research community has adopted to facilitate the integrated analysis of future climate impacts, vulnerabilities, adaptation, and mitigation,” said Riahi. 

Scenarios, as used in research with integrated assessment models, are stories about potential ways that the future might develop. They feature specific quantitative elements and details about how sectors such as the economy, climate, and the energy sector interact. By looking at scenarios, researchers look for insights into the paths and circumstances that might lead to specific objectives. 

“The scenarios from the research community form the backbone of our analysis of potential climate change impacts as well as mitigation and adaptation solutions,” said Ottmar Edenhofer, Chief Economist at the Potsdam Institute for Climate Impact Research in Germany and Co-Chair of IPCC Working Group III, which deals with the mitigation of climate change. The IPCC facilitated the development of the new scenarios in AR5 and assessed their results in the report, but the process is coordinated by the research community. 

The Expert Meeting is being convened to continue the dialogue with the research community, to take stock of the achievements of the process during the AR5 cycle, to share available information across scientific disciplines, and to discuss the role of scenarios in future IPCC products. 

With the meeting the IPCC intends to bring together scientific groups with diverse expertise and backgrounds to share experiences and expectations related to the scenario community’s activities and to facilitate further development of common scenarios in climate change research. This will allow a more integrated assessment of mitigation, adaptation, and climate change impacts across the entirety of IPCC work in the future. 

The development of the new socioeconomic scenarios, called ‘Shared Socioeconomic Pathways’ (SSPs) complements the Representative Concentration Pathways already used in AR5; these are previously developed trajectories for future levels of greenhouse gases that are being explored in experiments by the climate modeling community. 

The SSPs enable researchers to conduct related studies across a broad range of topics. Just before the IPCC meeting a new generation of SSP scenarios has been made publicly available for review by the community (see below). The research communities will continue to investigate the implications of various socioeconomic developments on the local, regional, or global scale for the impacts of climate change and the costs, risks, and benefits of a range of possible policies.


IIASA and the IPCC

Indeed IIASA’s pioneering research into climate change in the 1970s and 1980s played a key role in establishing the IPCC. Since then, numerous IIASA scientists have been authors and reviewers of the IPCC’s reports. IIASA’s approach of merging interdisciplinary and international research ensures its scientists are well experienced to provide expertise in understanding problems such as climate change that also crosses national and disciplinary boundaries. Read more in IIASA's Options Magazine.

Data hosting

IIASA hosts several important data sets for the climate research community:

 


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Last edited: 18 May 2015

CONTACT DETAILS

Keywan Riahi

Program Director

Energy

T +43(0) 2236 807 491

IIASA and the IPCC

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) is the leading international body for the assessment of climate change

Event Information

International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis (IIASA)
Schlossplatz 1, A-2361 Laxenburg, Austria
Phone: (+43 2236) 807 0 Fax:(+43 2236) 71 313