. "3 Additional Overarching Comments." Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program's Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2, "Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making". Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2007.
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Review of the U.S. Climate Change Science Program’s Synthesis and Assessment Product 5.2, “Best Practice Approaches for Characterizing, Communicating, and Incorporating Scientific Uncertainty in Climate Decision Making”
noted in the sections of this report that provide reviews of individual chapters of the draft. Broadly, these issues are as follows:
5a.Jargon and definitions: The language suffers from excessive use of jargon, overly complex explanations for concepts that could have been stated more clearly, and a lack of definitions of terms that may have multiple meanings to multiple readers. Some of these issues are related to the question of the target audience for this Synthesis and Assessment Product (SAP). If the final product, or some portion of it, is intended to serve as a practical guide for decision makers and non-scientific users of uncertainty information, then the language should be appropriate for that audience. Notwithstanding this question of audience, the committee believes that even if the document is intended for the narrower subset of the Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) researchers and assessors, there is benefit in stating difficult concepts in straightforward language. The authors might also consider adding a glossary for less commonly understood terms and phrases.
5b.Use of examples: It would be very helpful if the authors would consider providing one or two “real-world” examples of a climate-decision making scenario, and then carrying those examples through the rest of the document as points of reference. In each chapter, relating the technical material in question to these examples would not only elucidate that material for the uninitiated reader, but would also help to shore up the framework of the document.
5c.Use of quotes: The committee believes that the authors make excessive use of long, direct quotes from the literature. In most cases the point the authors wish to make could be conveyed adequately by paraphrasing these quotes into simpler statements.
5d.Content arrangement: The committee recommends that the content arrangement of the chapters be reconsidered once the needed material has been incorporated into the document. One approach might begin with a framing of the issue, followed by discussion of the sources and types of uncertainty, followed by a synthesis of the various methods for estimating uncertainty (with a progression from conventional methods to expert elicitation), with later material providing information on methods of communicating uncertainty and concluding with recommendations for best practices. An enhanced emphasis on communication might also include material from both Chapters 2 and 6. The material in Chapter 7 could be placed earlier in the document and amended slightly to provide the recommended addition of contextual information early in the document. Arranging the discussion of techniques to begin with the outlining of objective and then more subjective methods could also enhance readability. In its current form, the discussion somewhat confusingly alternates between the two types of methodologies.