Multiple methods for multiple futures: Integrating qualitative scenario planning and quantitative simulation modeling for natural resource decision making

Climate Risk Management
By: , and 

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Abstract

Scenario planning helps managers incorporate climate change into their natural resource decision making through a structured “what-if” process of identifying key uncertainties and potential impacts and responses. Although qualitative scenarios, in which ecosystem responses to climate change are derived via expert opinion, often suffice for managers to begin addressing climate change in their planning, this approach may face limits in resolving the responses of complex systems to altered climate conditions. In addition, this approach may fall short of the scientific credibility managers often require to take actions that differ from current practice. Quantitative simulation modeling of ecosystem response to climate conditions and management actions can provide this credibility, but its utility is limited unless the modeling addresses the most impactful and management-relevant uncertainties and incorporates realistic management actions. We use a case study to compare and contrast management implications derived from qualitative scenario narratives and from scenarios supported by quantitative simulations. We then describe an analytical framework that refines the case study’s integrated approach in order to improve applicability of results to management decisions. The case study illustrates the value of an integrated approach for identifying counterintuitive system dynamics, refining understanding of complex relationships, clarifying the magnitude and timing of changes, identifying and checking the validity of assumptions about resource responses to climate, and refining management directions. Our proposed analytical framework retains qualitative scenario planning as a core element because its participatory approach builds understanding for both managers and scientists, lays the groundwork to focus quantitative simulations on key system dynamics, and clarifies the challenges that subsequent decision making must address.

Additional publication details

Publication type Article
Publication Subtype Journal Article
Title Multiple methods for multiple futures: Integrating qualitative scenario planning and quantitative simulation modeling for natural resource decision making
Series title Climate Risk Management
DOI 10.1016/j.crm.2017.07.002
Volume 17
Year Published 2017
Language English
Publisher Elsevier
Contributing office(s) Northern Prairie Wildlife Research Center
Description 14 p.
First page 78
Last page 91