EGU General Assembly 2023
© Author(s) 2023. This work is distributed under
the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Reversing the impact chain

Peter Pfleiderer1,2, Jana Sillmann1, Robin Lamboll3,4, Joeri Rogelj3,4,5, and Carl-Friedrich Schleussner2,6
Peter Pfleiderer et al.
  • 1Hamburg University, Berlin, Germany (
  • 2Climate Analytics, Berlin, Germany
  • 3Environmental Policy, Imperial College London, UK
  • 4Grantham Institute - Climate Change and Environment, Imperial College London, London, UK
  • 5International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis, Laxenburg, Austria
  • 6Humboldt University, Berlin, Germany

Climate impacts have been studied intensively and our understanding of changes in climate impacts due to anthropogenic activity is impressive (see IPCC AR6). There is, however, a gap between the physical understanding of changes in climate impacts and availability of information that could directly be used by adaptation planners. We argue that this gap is to a large extent a result of the usual modeling chain that is based on a handful of representative emission scenarios.

Most climate change studies take a small, predefined set of emission scenarios (SSP2-45, SSP1-26, SSP5-85 etc.) and calculate the global and regional climate impacts resulting from these. Focusing on a limited set of emission scenarios allows us to compare results from different modeling groups and lets us run detailed climate models on each scenario. However, this modeling approach does not align with relevant research questions such as: “How much can be emitted to avoid a certain impact?” Or “what are the emission constraints to limit the probability of experiencing a certain event until 2050 to 10%?”

The presented reversal of the impact chain would help to answer these questions. The idea is to start from a clearly defined impact and evolve uncertainties backwards into the emission space. Doing so, we take the perspective of practitioners who know very well what impacts are of relevance and would like to know how these impacts are related to greenhouse gas emissions.

How to cite: Pfleiderer, P., Sillmann, J., Lamboll, R., Rogelj, J., and Schleussner, C.-F.: Reversing the impact chain, EGU General Assembly 2023, Vienna, Austria, 24–28 Apr 2023, EGU23-14166,, 2023.