Integrating socio-economic scenarios for climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability studies: 5 case studies for Europe

PhD project Simona Pedde on integrated socio-economc scenarios

Problem definition and objective

Climate projections based on current emission trends point to substantial warming, with possible increases of 4°C or more in the long-term unless radical action strongly reduces emissions. In spite of high plausibility of these scenarios, impact, adaptation and vulnerability assessments (IAV), still ignore cross-sectoral interactions and tradeoffs with mitigation resulting in a misrepresentation of actual vulnerabilities.

Because of cross-scale interactions, faster and stronger climate change impacts may imply transformative rather than incremental adaptation strategies. For Europe, these strategies will be explored in the IMPRESSIONS project by representing, quantifying and mapping cross-scale impacts and vulnerabilities associated with high-end scenarios for 5 case studies.

In IMPRESSIONS, a novel set of high-end scenario will be created, because existing scenarios cannot include broad ranges of greenhouse gas concentrations and do not address effectively questions concerning mitigation and adaptation strategies. This entails that new scenarios should be a) suitable for high-end climate change impacts and b) methodologically applicable to different scales and geographical contexts. The starting point can be the parallel process which has led to new emission scenarios (so-called RCPs) and  Shared Socioeconomic Pathways (SSPs), SSPs are pathways of key socioeconomic drivers along the dimensions of challenges to mitigation and to adaptation. SSP global storylines are suitable for the development of consistent cross-scale global and sub-global socioeconomic storylines.

So far, the parallel process has resulted in a clear design of the scenario products and of the overarching process starting from separate SSPs and RCPs to integrated scenarios. However, clear procedures on integration with existing scenarios, scalability, integration and operationalization of the SSP and RCP matrix do not exist yet, leaving these four issues still open.

The PhD project objective is to integrate socio-economic scenarios for climate impacts, adaptation and vulnerability studies. The methodology combines the state-of-the-art scenario framework (SSP and RCP) and methodology (Story and Simulation (SAS) approach) to develop novel approaches for scenario development.

Figure 1: Global Socio-Economic Pathways (SSPs) to be downscaled for Europe at different scales and levels. Source (O`Neill et al. 2015)


The first objective is to develop extended SSPs for Europe. The purpose is to nest existing scenarios for Europe with SSPs. The methodology draws from the Story and Simulation (SAS approach) with additional steps to qualitatively match existing scenarios. The second objective is to investigate tradeoffs between consistency and relevance across scales and levels for 5 case studies. The method will consist of an iterative process and consistent steps and elements for all scenarios at all levels. The final product will be qualitatively evaluated from stakeholders in a cross-scale workshop. The third objective is to analyze tools in order to strengthen the link between qualitative and quantitative scenarios in the Story and Simulation approach. The method will build on Fuzzy Set Theory (FST) to yield integrated scenarios. Stakeholders will evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the approach. The fourth objective is to test the multiscale framework developed in the previous objectives and analyze the credibility of the integrated scenarios quantitatively. The method includes an uncertainty analysis based on parameter sampling from two different probability density functions in order to evaluate the model uncertainty and identify model and scenario uncertainties.

Start PhD. project: November, 2014

End PhD. project: November, 2018


please contact me if you need any information about my project (see contact details above).

Funded by IMPRESSIONS project (FP7)