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Assessing decision support systems and levels of confidence to narrow the climate information “usability gap”

Moss, Richard H.
Climatic change 2016 v.135 no.1 pp. 143-155
climate, climate change, decision making, decision support systems, issues and policy, risk management, scientists, uncertainty, United States
This article focuses on the implications for the US National Climate Assessment (NCA) of diversifying information needs to support climate change risk management. It describes how the Third US National Climate Assessment (NCA3) evolved to begin to narrow the gap between information from climate and impact scientists and “intermediaries” (individuals who have expertise in climate science, communication, and decision-support processes)—who are sometimes collectively described as “producers” in this article—and the decision-making needs of a wide range of “users” (individuals involved in advising or making a wide range of policy and management decisions). One step in the evolution of the NCA3 included adding a chapter to assess decision-support tools and systems being used in climate-related decisions. Another involved efforts to improve characterization of the level of confidence of NCA3 authors in their findings to help decision-makers and their advisors differentiate well-established and more preliminary conclusions. This paper lays out an argument for increasing the role of the NCA in assessing decision-support systems in the Fourth Assessment (NCA4) and the Sustained Assessment. It also briefly reviews approaches and potential next steps related to characterizing uncertainty and communicating confidence intended to improve application of assessment findings by decision-makers.