Climate modelling, scenarios and downscaling - NWP

Promoting the development of, access to, and use of information and data on projected climate change.

Climate models are based on well-established physical principles and have been demonstrated to reproduce observed features of the recent climate and past climate changes. There is considerable confidence that Atmosphere-Ocean General Circulation Models (AOGCMs) provide credible quantitative estimates of future climate change, particularly at continental and larger scales (adapted from IPCC, 2007). However, the use of  AOGCMs is limited in projecting climate change at the regional and sub-regional level, because significant differences in climate occur at a scale below the resolution of the AOGCMs. However, even given the limitations and uncertainties associated with modelling, global circulation models and regional climate models can be applied usefully to identify a range of uncertainties allowing strategic policy-making for adaptation.

Activities and deliverables under the second phase (2008-2010) include:

  • Consideration of relevant issues from this work area in a technical workshop (requested by the SBSTA before its thirty-second session, November 2010)

  • The SBSTA encouraged the IPCC Task Group on Data and Scenario Support for Impact and Climate Analysis (TGICA) to enhance their outreach and sharing of information on the development of new scenarios with a view to increasing awareness among Parties on ways in which these scenarios will be used for impacts, vulnerability and adaptation assessments

Activities and deliverables under the first phase (up to June 2008) included:

  • Submissions by the IPCC, other relevant international, regional and national organizations and from modelling centres and agencies

  • In-session workshop to be held in Bonn, June 2008

Work in the area of climate modelling, scenarios and downscaling can contribute to efforts by Parties and organizations to:

  1. Identify gaps in the development of regional and subregional climate scenarios, including the need for, and the availability and applicability of, climate models, and the options to fill these gaps;

  2. Identify practical opportunities to improve access to, and use of outputs of different models, including assessment of their applicability, and training opportunities;

  3. Analyse means to improve the availability and applicability of climate change modelling and downscaling data to policy makers at all levels.

Details of activities and deliverables under the first phase


The SBSTA invited submissions, by 21 September 2007, from the IPCC, other relevant international, regional and national organizations, and from modelling centres and agencies, for compilation into a miscellaneous document to be made available to the SBSTA by its twenty-seventh session on ways in which they contribute to the following:

  • Development, availability and use of climate models, and development of, access to, and use of climate change scenarios, especially those that provide subregional and regional specificity, including data downscaled from general circulation models

  • Enhanced capacity and experience with the use of these different models, statistical approaches and outputs, and any available training opportunities

  • Identification and reduction of uncertainties

Submissions were received from five organizations (IPCC, IRI, Frontier Research Center for Global Change, Royal Netherlands Meteorological Institute and the World Climate Research Programme). The submissions are available in the documents below:

FCCC/SBSTA/2007/MISC.24 and Add.1
Ways to contribute to climate modelling, scenarios and downscaling. Submissions from relevant organizations.

In-session workshop

The SBSTA requested the secretariat, under the guidance of the Chair of the SBSTA, to organize an in-session workshop under this sub-theme at its twenty-eighth session (Bonn, June 2008), with the participation of experts from Parties and representatives from the IPCC and other relevant organizations, and taking into account submissions under this area of work. It further requested the secretariat to prepare a report from the workshop to be made available to the SBSTA by its twenty-ninth session.

The in-session workshop took place in Bonn, Germany on 7 June 2008. The agenda, presentations and results from the workshop are available on the in-session workshop page.