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Global Change Impacts & Adaptation

Scenarios

A scenario is a qualitative or quantitative picture of the future. Scenarios are used to explore the potential effects of one or more uncertain factors and are integral to vulnerability assessment and adaptation planning. Scenarios are one way to understand the potential range of exposures that natural and human systems may experience from climate change and the consequent sensitivities. Scenarios are also useful for exploring model uncertainties, robustness of strategies and policies, and other dimensions of potential future impacts or adaptations. For example, we use multiple climate and land use scenarios to drive several water quality models that assess the range of potential effects that watersheds across the country may experience in terms of changes in flow, nutrients, and sediment inputs. Water resource managers can use these ranges in their planning to test adaptation options for ensuring the availability of clean drinking water and healthy streams for fish in the coming decades.

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