Representing and communicating uncertainty: Climate change and risk

Exploratory Award

Project Team:

Principal Investigator:

Professor Sarah Metcalfe, University of Nottingham


Professor Georgina Endfield, University of Nottingham

Dr Simon Gosling, University of Nottingham

Dr Colin Thorne, University of Nottingham

Professor Brigitte Nerlich, University of Nottingham

Professor Andrew Cliffe, University of Nottingham

Professor Neil Crout, University of Nottingham

Project Partners:

Lloyds of London

Nottingham City Council

Image credit: Mountains in the Chihuahuan Desert, Mexico. © Sarah Metcalfe.

Award Information:

This Exploratory Award project focused on exploring and developing the vocabulary of climate change. The investigators dound that the vocabulary used to described uncertainty associated with climate change is not consistent, even within academia, which can lead to misunderstandings or misconceptions. Through workshops the project brought together people from a range of disciplinary backgrounds, including engineering, mathematics, sociology and physical and human geography.

The objectives of the project were: a) to build understanding of the vocabulary of uncertainty in relation to climate change risks; b) to explore how understandings are communicated between groups and c) to begin to develop a vocabulary of climate change uncertainty intelligible to different groups.

This exploratory award project was supported by two project partners, Lloyds of London and Nottingham City Council. The engagement of these two partners contributed direct experience of how organisations supply and manage the dissemination of climate information and approach and apply climate change and uncertainy in their day-to-day business. Organisations approach climate change in different ways; in some cases the term itself is seen to be discredited. Tailoring messages about climate change to the target audience is seen as central.

Project website:

Further information:

A Case Study (PDF) of this AHRC Science in Culture Theme Exploratory Award is available to download here.

Award dates: February- August 2012