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Climate change modelling and DAFNI’s role in the OpenCLIM project

DAFNI, an infrastructure research platform managed by a University of Oxford-led partnership, is to play a significant role in assessing the risk of climate change in the UK.

The DAFNI facility is a partner in Open Climate Impact Framework (OpenCLIM), led by the University of East Anglia under the Tyndall Centre for Climate Change Research, which is developing and applying the first UK integrated assessment for climate impacts.

This assessment, developed with the Committee on Climate Change (CCC) and DEFRA, will examine the whole of the UK in terms of what climate change risk looks like and the kind of opportunities that could emerge to manage the risk up to the end of the century. It would model effects of different climate scenarios and different socio-economic scenarios, in different places and for different sectors, including the benefits of adaptations for biodiversity, agriculture, infrastructure and urban areas. 

The OpenCLIM project, led by Professor Robert Nicholls, is a 28-month project under the UK Climate Resilience programme. The purpose is to develop these integrated methods for future Climate Change Risk Assessments (CCRA) using DAFNI through a “multi-systems approach” to assess the risks of climate change and analyse different methods of adapting to them, including considering the environment.

Integrated framework

The OpenCLIM project involves linking state-of-the-art models within an integrated framework to create a bigger, more complex model. At a recent event, Professor Robert Nicholls stated: “We want to develop and implement an advanced open, integrated, spatially explicit model framework around a community of developers and users working within the project.”

OpenCLIM would develop models that could be adapted to consider biodiversity, agriculture, infrastructure and urban areas. 

Professor Nicholls added that in the case of the CCRA, the role of adaptation is fundamental. “A lot of climate risk models don’t consider adaptation explicitly enough or how we express adaptation; and developing a community around this process; and the legacy.

“With the OpenCLIM framework we can introduce changes in land use and how that can affect flows and risks, which allows us to think about adaptation at multiple scales and the policy choices that are being discussed in government and also begin to intersect with other agendas like Net Zero which is very strongly linked to land use, as is biodiversity, so we start to get a strongly joined-up view of future possible changes.”

Making simulations easier

The project will also store the results of the simulations at fine scales, providing the opportunity to interrogate them by local authority area or sector with spatially and temporally rich simulation datasets for clients beyond CCC and DEFRA.

Therefore, there is the potential for tools like DAFNI to make it easier to create simulations and link models. A funding boost in July 2021 for DAFNI has also provided some much-needed support to integrated modelling for climate change risk assessment.

The £1.2m funding from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council allows DAFNI to build on its commitment to support evolving and sustainable infrastructure needs through major projects, including OpenCLIM and the UK Centre for Greening Finance and Investment. It also marks the beginning of a new phase of training and development for future generations of infrastructure engineers.

Project details

The Data & Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure (DAFNI) provides a platform offering high quality data, modelling and analytical tools for university researchers studying infrastructure in complex and detailed ways across the UK.

The results are used to help inform government policy at local and national scale, on areas from decisions on housing stock type and size to new road and transport links, flood defences and climate change mitigation measures.

DAFNI is hosted and managed by the Science and Technology Facilities Council (STFC) in a partnership led by the University of Oxford and funded for its development years by a grant from the UK Collaboratorium for Research on Infrastructure and Cities (UKCRIC).

Project contact

Marion Samler

Partnership Manager, DAFNI: Data and Analytics Facility for National Infrastructure

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