Preprints
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-534
https://doi.org/10.5194/egusphere-2024-534
12 Mar 2024
 | 12 Mar 2024
Status: this preprint is open for discussion.

Brief communication: Sea-level projections, adaptation planning, and actionable science

William H. Lipscomb, David Behar, and Monica Ainhorn Morrison

Abstract. As climate scientists seek to deliver actionable science for adaptation planning, there are risks in using novel results to inform decision-making. Premature acceptance can lead to maladaptation, confusion, and practitioner “whiplash”. We propose that scientific claims should be considered actionable only after meeting a confidence threshold based on the strength of evidence as evaluated by a diverse group of scientific experts. We discuss an influential study that projected rapid sea-level rise from Antarctic ice-sheet retreat but in our view was not actionable. We recommend regular, transparent communications between scientists and practitioners to support the use of actionable science.

William H. Lipscomb, David Behar, and Monica Ainhorn Morrison

Status: open (until 19 May 2024)

Comment types: AC – author | RC – referee | CC – community | EC – editor | CEC – chief editor | : Report abuse
  • CC1: '"Actionable" for whom, in what decision context?', Robert Kopp, 15 Mar 2024 reply
  • CC2: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-534', Chris P. Weaver, 18 Mar 2024 reply
    • RC1: 'Reply on CC2', Chris P. Weaver, 09 Apr 2024 reply
  • CC3: 'Comment on egusphere-2024-534 Defining the rules so we know when to break them', Rajashree Datta, 11 Apr 2024 reply
William H. Lipscomb, David Behar, and Monica Ainhorn Morrison
William H. Lipscomb, David Behar, and Monica Ainhorn Morrison

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Short summary
As communities try to adapt to climate change, they look for “actionable science” that can inform decision-making. There are risks in relying on novel results that are not yet accepted by the science community. We propose a practical criterion for determining which scientific claims are actionable. We show how premature acceptance of sea-level rise predictions can lead to confusion and backtracking, and we suggest best practices for communication between scientists and adaptation planners.