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Characterizing and Communicating Scientific Uncertainty

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Characterizing uncertainty is a major issue in all scientific discourse, but it is of particular importance in climate change research. Widely publicized climate change findings, such as the periodic reports authored by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), must find precision in their language so that the published findings are neither understated nor exaggerated and can be taken seriously by policymakers, the media, and the public. This Elements of Change report tackles this problem by summarizing the proceedings of a 1996 AGCI meeting that was convened to discuss how uncertainty is communicated in reports such as the one put out by the IPCC. In attendance were climate change researchers, policy analysts, and media experts, and this report addresses scientific, media, and policy related issues pertaining to uncertainty.

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