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Help and Frequently Asked Questions

 

The paper describing the development of the newly added Erosivity and Moisture related variables has been submitted for peer review: Dissecting the Aridity Index for assessing global climate change, Girvetz et al. Upon publication we will provide the citation here. In the meantime please see the list of citations we used to both develop the enhanced moisture calculations and write the manuscript. The citations are available in PDF format in the link below.

Aridity Citations

 

We believe it is critical for Climate Wizard users to familiarize themselves with the strengths and limitations of the available data and the appropriateness of applying Climate Wizard’s various analytical techniques to any particular data set.

Here we provide an overview of important information and caveats in the Use and Misuse of Climate Data and Analysis presented in the Climate Wizard.

 

1.      What is Climate Wizard?

2.      Who can I contact for additional information?

3.      How do I draw a polygon on the map?

 

4.      How do I erase a polygon on the map?

 

5.      Can I turn the map display off?

 

6.      Can I change the map view?

 

7.      How do I move the map and zoom in and out?

 

8.      Can I select multiple regions in the “Add Pre-Defined Areas” dialogue box?

 

9.      Time periods - What should I know when selecting them?

 

10.  Can I select more than one climate variable?

 

11.  Can I select more than one General Circulation Model?

 

12.  Can I select more than one emissions scenario?

13.  What is the resolution, projection, and units of the data I downloaded?

14.  Can I change the base map in the results webpage?

15.  Can I change the map transparency in the results webpage?

16.  What is Analysis Area?

17.  What is map of Average?

18.  What is Map of Change?

19.  How do I download and import map images in ArcGIS?

20.  What is IPCC Fourth Assessment?

21.  What are Emission Scenarios?

22.  What are General Circulation Models and where can I learn more?

23.  What is Ensemble in the General Circulation Models list?

24.  What does the graph show and what do the colored lines represent?

25.  How do I cite the data used in the Climate Wizard?

26.  What is the resolution, projection, and units of the data I downloaded?

27.  What is downscaling?

28. I downloaded the data - How do I interpret the file names?

29. Moisture Variables - Definitions and citation

 

 

1.     What is Climate Wizard?

Developed through collaboration between The Nature Conservancy, The University of Washington, and The University of Southern Mississippi, the Climate Wizard enables technical and non-technical audiences alike to easily and intuitively access leading climate change information and visualize the impacts anywhere on Earth.

Climate Wizard Custom is a new tool where a user can define a relatively small geographic area of interest and conduct site-specific analyses using both historical data and possible future conditions that are based on low (B1), moderate (A1B), and high (A2) carbon emissions scenarios.  Sixteen general circulation models are available to provide a range of possible outcomes, and users can analyze absolute and percentage changes in annual, seasonal or monthly climate conditions in graphic or map form.  Since the large climate datasets are stored and analyzed remotely on powerful computers, users of the tool do not need to have fast computers or expensive software, but simply need access to the internet.  Using web technologies to develop tools that make climate change analysis more accessible scientists, managers, and policy makers now have the ability to assess the potential impacts of climate change and help guide decisions and actions to prepare for and mitigate those impacts to natural systems and the services they provide.  

 

2.     Who can I contact for additional information?

For general questions and information on development staff, please email climateportal@worldbank.org

 

 

3.     How do I draw a polygon on the map?

        Adobe Systems   Press the icon (outlined in red) located to the upper left of the map.  Click on the map to place the polygon nodes.  Double click to complete the polygon.

 

 

4.      How do I erase a polygon on the map?

        Adobe Systems  Press the icon (outlined in red) located to the upper left of the map.

 

 

5.      Can I turn the map display off?

        Adobe Systems  Press the icon (outlined in red) located to the upper left of the map.

 

 

6.      Can I change the map view?

        Adobe Systems  Press the plus symbol located on the upper right of the map.

 

 

7.      How do I move the map and zoom in and out?

        Adobe Systems  Press the icon (outlined in red) located to the upper left of the map.  Then click and drag your cursor on the map to pan the image.  You can also press the icon located in the upper left corner of the map. To zoom in, press the icon outlined in red and double-click the map.  You can also press the icon located in the upper left corner of the map to zoom in and out and refresh the map to its original extent.

 

 

8.      Can I select multiple regions in the “Add Pre-Defined Areas” dialogue box?

        Yes, press and hold the control button for individual multiple selections or press and hold the shift key for a group selection.

 

 

9.      Time Periods - What should I know when selecting them?

Meaningful statistical representations of modeled future climate predictions are best achieved by examining a range of time rather that a single year. For example, in the Climate Wizard main page we have chosen the time period 2040-2069 and 2070-2099 to provide the user with a range that most accurately describes the predicted conditions for the mid century (2050) and the end of the century (2100) respectively. Please read the Use and Misuse of Climate Data and Analysis for more information.

 

 

10.  Can I select more than one climate variable?

        Yes, check the box to the left of the desired climate variables.

 

 

11.  Can I select more than one General Circulation Model?

        Yes, hold down the shift or control button to select all or individual models.

 

 

12.  Can I select more than one emissions scenario?

        Yes, check the box to the left of the desired emissions scenario.

 

 

13.  What are the resolution, projection, and units of the data I downloaded?

        Adobe Systems  The grid cell resolution of the GIS data contained in the downloaded file is identical to the resolution of the input dataset selected by the user as indicated on the Climate Wizard homepage.  The user may click on the text to review a complete data description.

 

14.   Can I change the base map in the results webpage?

Press the plus symbol located on the upper right of the map to reveal base map layer options such as satellite or streets view.

 

 

15.  Can I change the map transparency in the results webpage?

Drag the slider to reduce or increase the transparency of the climate map layer to reveal the elements of the base map image below

 

 

16.  What is Analysis Area?

Use the pull-down arrow to quickly move to another state or country in the current map view.

 

 

17.  What is Map of Average?

The map of average shows the mean temperature or precipitation value for the time period.

 

 

18.  What is Map of Change?

For maps showing the historical climate (present day and before) the “change” describes how climate has generally changed over time. This is a trend analyses that describes the average change in climate per year over a given entire period.

For maps showing the future predicted climate (present day and beyond) the “change” is a comparison between the future climate to a baseline time period (climatic departures). In the case of the Climate Wizard the baseline is the present-day conditions or more accurately the average temperature and precipitation between 1961 and 1990 -- (how different will the conditions be in the future from today?).

 

 

19.  How do I download and import map images in ArcGIS?

Data (GIS format) – This download option allows the user to save a GIS ready file to their computer. The format of the file is ASCII (float) which can be imported in most GIS applications. To import the data into ArcGIS follow the directions below:

1. In ClimateWizard, display exactly the data you want to download, then click the Data option from ClimateWiz menu. Save the file with .asc extension (if you don’t have this option, save as .txt and then rename the file with the extension changed to .asc).

2. In ArcGIS, open ArcCatalog, then open ArcToolbox.

3. In ArcToolbox, go to Conversion Tools→To Raster→ASCII to Raster→Input ASCII Raster File. Navigate to your downloaded .asc file. Your Output Raster file should be renamed with 13 letters or less, leaving the extension blank (this will give you a GRID file, which is easiest to use for math). The Output Data Type must be set to FLOAT.

4. In the ArcToolbox, go to Data Management→Tools→Projections and Transformations→Define Projection. Select your new file for input.

5. Under Coordinate System, select Geographic Coordinate Systems→World→WGS 1984.prj.

6. The file is now ready to add to your ArcGIS project using the Add Data button.

Map Image – You can click on map image to open a separate web browser window showing only the climate map and legend (without the Google Earth background) or you can right-click on map image and save the graphics file to your computer.

 

 

20.  What is the IPCC Fourth Assessment?

The IPCC was established to provide the decision-makers and others interested in climate change with an objective source of information about climate change. The IPCC does not conduct any research nor does it monitor climate related data or parameters. Its role is to assess on a comprehensive, objective, open and transparent basis the latest scientific, technical and socio-economic literature produced worldwide relevant to the understanding of the risk of human-induced climate change, its observed and projected impacts and options for adaptation and mitigation http://www.ipcc.ch/. A suite of international modeling groups provided modeled climate projections that was used in this report; published in 2008.

 

 

21.  What are Emission Scenarios?

A scenario is a coherent, internally consistent and plausible description of a possible future state of the world. It is not a forecast; rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future can unfold. A projection may serve as the raw material for a scenario, but scenarios often require additional information (e.g., about baseline conditions). A set of scenarios is often adopted to reflect, as well as possible, the range of uncertainty in projections. Other terms that have been used as synonyms for scenario are "characterization", "storyline" and "construction". (http://www.ipcc-data.org/ddc_definitions.html). Look here or more information on Emission Scenarios

 

 

22.  What are General Circulation Models and where can I find more information?

Climate models use quantitative methods to simulate the interactions of the atmosphere, oceans, land surface, and ice. They are used for a variety of purposes from study of the dynamics of the weather and climate system to projections of future climate. All climate models balance, or very nearly balance, incoming energy as short wave electromagnetic radiation (visible and ultraviolet) to the earth with outgoing energy as long wave (infrared) electromagnetic radiation from the earth. Any imbalance results in a change in the average temperature of the earth. Look here or more information on General Circulation Models. The following is a list of the models presented in the Climate Wizard. This list is extracted from the information provided by the Program for Climate Model Diagnosis and Intercomparison Coupled Model Intercomparison Project (CMIP3) Climate Model Documentation website.

BCCR-BCM2.0

Norway

Bjerknes Centre for Climate Research

CGCM3.1(T47)

Canada

Canadian Centre for Climate Modelling & Analysis

CNRM-CM3

France

Météo-France / Centre National de Recherches Météorologiques

CSIRO-Mk3.0

Australia

CSIRO Atmospheric Research

GFDL-CM2.0

USA

US Dept. of Commerce / NOAA / Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GFDL-CM2.1

USA

US Dept. of Commerce / NOAA / Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory

GISS-ER

USA

NASA / Goddard Institute for Space Studies

INM-CM3.0

Russia

Institute for Numerical Mathematics

IPSL-CM4

France

Institut Pierre Simon Laplace

MIROC3.2(medres)

Japan

Center for Climate System Research (The University of Tokyo), National Institute for Environmental Studies, and Frontier Research Center for Global Change (JAMSTEC)

ECHO-G

Germany / Korea

Meteorological Institute of the University of Bonn, Meteorological Research Institute of KMA, and Model and Data group.

ECHAM5/MPI-OM

Germany

Max Planck Institute for Meteorology

MRI-CGCM2.3.2

Japan

Meteorological Research Institute

CCSM3

USA

National Center for Atmospheric Research

PCM

USA

National Center for Atmospheric Research

UKMO-HadCM3

UK

Hadley Centre for Climate Prediction and Research / Met Office

 

 

 

23.  What is Ensemble in the General Circulation Models list (GCM)?

Climate change analysis becomes more complex for the future than the past because there is not one time-series of climate, but rather many future projections from different GCMs run with a range of CO2 emissions scenarios (IPCC 2007b). It is important not to analyze only one GCM for any given emission scenario, but rather to use ensemble analysis to combine the analyses of multiple GCMs and quantify the range of possibilities for future climates under different emissions scenarios. There are many approaches for doing ensemble analysis ranging from simple averaging approaches to more complex and computationally intensive probability estimation approaches (Dettinger 2006, Araujo and New 2007). Here, we used a fairly simple, yet informative non-parametric quantile-rank approach that maps out the 0 (minimum), 20, 40, 50 (median), 60, 80, and 100th (maximum) percentiles (Figures 6 and 7). While all models agree that mean temperatures will increase everywhere in the world (Figure 6), they often do not agree on the magnitude of that increase. The term Ensemble Average located in the General Circulation Model (GCM) pull-down list on the ClimateWizard home page displays the 50th percentile or median prediction of all subsequent GCMs listed.

 

 

24.  What does the graph show and what do the colored lines represent?

The graph shows the yearly values of the climate variable selected. The blue line is the 5-year rolling average. The red line is the shows the trend or rate of change over the time period shown.

 

 

25.  How do I cite the data used in the Climate Wizard?

The primary citation for the Climate Wizard Custom Analysis Application can be found here - Applied Climate-Change Analysis: The Climate Wizard Tool. Please also see the About Us section of the Climate Wizard home page for additional information and citations. For further questions please contact climatewizard@tnc.org

 

 

26.  What are the resolution, projection, and units of the data I downloaded?

The grid cell resolution of the GIS data is indicated on the Climate Wizard data information page documentation.html. The projection and units correspond to Geographic, WGS 84.

 

 

27.  What is downscaling?

The following was taken from Maurer, E. P., L. Brekke, T. Pruitt, and P. B. Duffy (2007), Fine-resolution climate projections enhance regional climate change impact studies, Eos Trans. AGU, 88(47), 504 and describes the data presented the the ClimateWizard:

A statistical technique was used to generate gridded fields of precipitation and surface air temperature over the conterminous United States and portions of Canada and Mexico. The method involves (1) a quantilemapping approach that corrects for GCM biases, based on observations of 1950–1999; and (2) interpolation of monthly bias-corrected GCM anomalies onto a fine-scale grid of historical climate data, producing a monthly time series at each 1/8-degree grid cell. The method has been used extensively for hydrologic impact studies (including many with ensembles of GCMs) and in a variety of climate change impact studies on systems as diverse as wine grape cultivation, habitat migration, and air quality.

The downscaled data are freely available for download at the Green Data Oasis, a large data store at LLNL for sharing scientific data (http://gdo-dcp.ucllnl.org/downscaled_cmip3_projections/).

Users can specify particular models, emissions scenarios, time periods, geographical areas, and raw data or summary statistics. All data are archived in a standard netCDF format, a self-describing machine-independent format for sharing gridded scientific data. The full text of this article can be found in the electronic supplement to this EOS issue (http://www.agu.org/eos_elec/).

 

 

28.  I downloaded the data - How do I interpret the file names?

The ascii files you download follow the naming conventions described below:

Historical analyses: name = DataType_VariableName_Month_StartYr_EndYr:

Future analyses: name = DataType_ModelName_ScenarioName_VariableName_Month_StartYr_EndYr

 

Month Codes:

Month Number Month Name
1 January
2 February
3 March
4 April
5 May
6 June
7 July
8 August
9 September
10 October
11 November
12 December
14 Annual
15 Dec-Feb
16 March-May
17 June-Aug
18 Sept-Nov

 

Variable names, abreviations, and units:

Variable Abbrevation Metric Units English Units
Precipitation ppt Millimeters Inches
Mean Temperature tmp Celcius Fahrenheit
Minimum Temperature tmin Celcius Fahrenheit
Maximum Temperature tmax Celcius Fahrenheit
Moisture Surplus surpHam Millimeters Inches
Moisture Deficit defHam Millimeters Inches
PET (Potential Evapotranspiration) petHam Millimeters Inches
AET/PET (ratio) aetToPetHam Ratio Ratio

 

 

29.  Moisture Variables - Definitions and citation

The balance between precipitation and the amount of water that an ecosystem could potentially use though evaporation and transpiration— potential evapotranspiration—is the basis for the moisture metrics used here: the Aridity Index, climate moisture surplus, and climate moisture deficit. This can be generally thought of as the balance of water in a system, between the supply of water (precipitation) and demand of water (potential evapotranspiration).

Potential Evapotranspiration (PET) is a metric representing the water that an ecosystem could potentially use though evaporation and transpiration. PET was calculated based on monthly temperature and monthly average number of daylight hours based on a modified version of the Thornethwaite equation (Hamon, 1961). PET is higher with warmer temperatures and more daylight hours. See Wolock and McCabe (1999) for more details on the approach.

Climatic moisture surplus is a metric quantifying excess water in a system—it can be a gross surrogate for water runoff and stream/river flows. When we calculate it here, surplus occurs only when precipitation is greater than PET in a given month; it is the amount of precipitation that falls above and beyond PET (measured in mm). The concept of surplus is that the precipitation that falls below the PET amount is evaporated or transpired by the system and does not runoff over the surface or infiltrate into the soil. However, if more water falls than PET, then the excess precipitation above and beyond PET is the surplus that turns into runoff or ground water infiltration. Surplus is calculated as PPT minus PET within each month—and set to zero if less than zero (i.e. no surplus in a month)—then summed over all months for a given season or year.

Climatic Moisture deficit is a metric quantifying moisture stress in a system—it is very closely related to the Aridity Index—higher moisture deficit reflects higher moisture stress. Deficit only occurs only when precipitation is less than PET in a given month; it is the gap between the amount of precipitation and PET (measured in mm). The concept of moisture deficit is that there is greater evaporative demand than there is precipitation that falls and the system desires more moisture. If precipitation decreases or temperature increases (increasing PET) moisture deficit increases. The greater the moisture deficit the greater the gap between precipitation and PET. Deficit is calculated as PET minus precipitation (in mm)—and set to zero if precipitation is greater than PET—then summed over all months for a given season or year.

Aridity index (modified version) is a metric quantifying moisture stress and aridty in a system—it is very closely related to moisture deficit—lower aridity index represents higher moisture stress. It is calculated as the ratio between precipitation and PET summed over all months for a given year (or season), with the modification that precipitation is capped at PET for each month. Similar to how deficit is calculated, if precipitation in a given month is greater than PET, it is capped at the value of PET (no surplus is considered when calculating this version of the Aridity Index).

 

Reference: Wolock, D. M. and G. J. McCabe. 1999. Explaining spatial variability in mean annual runoff in the conterminous United States. Climate Research 11:149-159.