August 20, 2009

Study urges climate science investments

British scientists say targeted investments in climate science could lead to enormous economic savings for both the United Kingdom and Europe.

A study by the National Center for Atmospheric Science at the University of Leeds and the Walker Institute at the University of Reading determined such investments could lead to major benefits in reducing the costs of adapting to a changing climate. The study shows such investments made now, could result in as much as a 10 percent to 20 percent improvement in climate predictions for Europe during the coming decades, and up to 20 percent across the rest of the globe.

The study involved using data from a suite of state-of-the-art climate models to identify the main causes of uncertainty in predictions of temperature change over different space and time scales. Although this type of study had previously been done on a global scale, the researchers said their study marks the first time it has been attempted on regional scales.

A certain amount of climate change is inevitable, and we will need to adapt, said Ed Hawkins, who led the study. This work has highlighted the need for a debate about where best to target investment in climate science and to consider the return we get in terms of better climate forecasts and reduced adaptation costs.

The study appears in the Bulletin of the American Meteorological Society.