SALIENT

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If you are working in this space, we’d love to hear from you!

What is SALIENT?

Salient is a research project exploring new ways to understand and communicate future climate change for adaptation planning. The regional focus is southern Africa.

Are you involved in adaptation planning?

Future climate projections are increasingly required for adaptation processes, including National Adaptation Plans (NAPs) and Green Climate Fund (GCF) proposals. It is challenging to interpret climate model data and integrate it into planning. Our research aims to make it easier to understand and use climate projections for adaptation processes.

We are currently interviewing experts working on National Communications, NAPs, and GCF proposals, to better understand their experiences and so that we can design our research to be as useful as possible. If you are working in this area, we’d love to hear from you!

Are you involved in climate services or adaptation consulting?

Decision-making is a complex. Climate service practitioners and adaptation consultants are working with decision-makers to integrate many types of data, co-produce information and support climate-resilient decisions. Future climate projections are a very small part of that process. Practitioners can’t spend years examining different model ensembles, and different options for communicating model output. That’s where we come in. Salient is analysing hundreds of model simulations, pooling expert opinion, and drawing in insight from psychology and risk communication, to generate tools that climate service providers can use in their work to support decision-makers.

We are currently mapping the landscape of climate services activities in southern Africa, to better understand how our research can be most useful. If you are working in this space, we’d love to hear from you!

Are you new to this area of work?

No problem! You can read an introductory summary about why it’s important here.

The research project: key facts

Funder: UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship
Time: 2022-2026
Region: Southern Africa
Timescale: Long term climate, to 2050s
Climate variables/systems of interest: temperature, heat extremes, rainfall, heavy rainfall, drought, tropical cyclones

What does SALIENT research involve?

SALIENT research will improve climate information through

(1) understanding stakeholder context

(2) bringing in insights from psychology and risk communication

(3) innovative climate science​

SALIENT recent activity

The SALIENT team visited Mozambique in October 2023 with the new REPRESA project team. On the field trip day, they travelled to Pequenos Libombos dam and heard from a government official from the Vila De Boane Municipality. You can read Ailish Craig’s blog How do you manage a dam when there’s a tropical cyclone in Mozambique? for more information.

Team visiting INAM – The Mozambique Met Service, October 2023. Photo credit: Rachel James.
Visiting Pequenos Libombos dam in Mozambique, October 2023. Photo credit: Rachel James.

The SALIENT Team

Dr Rachel James – Principal Investigator, University of Bristol

My research focuses on African climate systems. I’m trying to find out more about how climate is changing now, and what further changes we can expect in the coming years and decades. This work is designed to inform climate change policy and planning. Before joining Bristol in 2020, I worked at University of Oxford and University of Cape Town. For this UKRI Future Leaders Fellowship, and over the next 4-7 years I’ll be working with my team to improve climate information for climate change adaptation, bringing together new climate science analysis with insights from psychology and risk communication.

Follow me on X @_RachelJames, email me at rachel.james@bristol.ac.uk.

University of Bristol profile

Ailish Craig – Research Associate, University of Bristol

My research explores climate services in southern Africa. A key focus of my work is to bridge the gap between climate model data and decision makers. This work will ensure decision makers have access to understandable and accurate climate information that can be used to inform national climate adaptation plans. The research is interdisciplinary, taking theories and methods from geography, risk communication and environmental psychology.

Before joining Bristol in 2023, I undertook my PhD at the University of Southampton. My thesis explored social capital in Malawi and how it is used to alleviate hunger whilst also considering differences over time and between genders.

University of Bristol profile

Alan Kennedy-Asser – Research Associate, University of Bristol

I joined the University of Bristol as an undergraduate in 2010, staying on to complete my PhD on past climate and ice sheet dynamics of Antarctica (2015-2019) before researching climate impacts, focussing on the impact of heat extremes in the UK funded by ther UK Climate Resilience Programme.

I joined the Climate Dynamics group in 2023 as a climate researcher on the SALIENT project, where my work focuses on climate data analysis over Southern Africa. I’m interested in inter-disciplinary methods, having led on a Brigstow Institute funded poetry project, and in policy engagement, having worked for a year as an embedded researcher with Climate Northern Ireland.

University of Bristol profile

Joe Daron – Science Manager, Met Office and Senior Research Fellow, University of Bristol

I consider myself an applied climate scientist, focused on the development and delivery of climate services. I hold a joint position at the Met Office and the University of Bristol through the Met Office Academic Partnership (MOAP).

At the Met Office, I co-manage the Climate Services Development team in International Applied Science & Services, working across a range of projects in Africa and Asia. I am the UK lead scientist (senior supplier) for the Weather and Climate Science for Service Partnership (WCSSP) South Africa project, guiding the scientific direction of the project and supporting collaborations between the Met Office, UK researchers and South African partners. At the University of Bristol, I am a Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Science, where my focus is on research to improve climate risk communication and methods for climate services.

Met Office profile

Lauren Brown – Project Research Officer, University of Bristol

I support Rachel James and the wider research team to ensure the successful delivery of SALIENT in the management of administrative, contractual and financial matters relating to this project.

You can contact me at lauren.bratby@bristol.ac.uk for any project queries.

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