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The Climate Information Platform

This article provides a background to the Climate Information Platform, which replaces the Climate Change Explorer (CCE).
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A new & improved service to replace the Climate Change Explorer

Over the last 3-4 years the Climate Change Explorer (CCE) has proved to a very useful tool and, led by our partners at the University of Cape Town, the weADAPT partners have learnt very valuable lessons about the way in which climate change information is and can be used to inform decision-making by those who are not climate scientists.

We have recognised some important limitations to the CCE tool and therefore the Climate Systems Analysis Group (CSAG) have been working to develop a new web-based service, called the Climate Information Portal (CIP)*, that replaces the CCE tool and builds in a number of new functionalities. This includes providing: station level data on historical climate conditions and downscaled projections of future climates; gridded data from Regional and Global Climate Models; various graphical representations of this data; and a much expanded set of guidance materials on how to interpret the outputs. If you are interested in more of the technical details of the problems with the CCE tool that motivated the move to CIP and the components that make up the new CIP, then please review this document HERE.

If you are currently using the CCE tool, or are looking to do so, then please instead start using the CIP. It is now publicly available on the web. All you have to do in order to get started is register. This is not to limit access but just so that we have an idea of who is using CIP and for what purpose, and for the rare occasion we need to alert you of a bug in the system or a problem with the data. Once you have registered you can login to CIP and start exploring!

The CIP is a stand alone portal, but we are currently working on multiple ways of linking between the CIP and weADAPT web services to make it as easy as possible for visitors and contributors to use and navigate both.

See also the “Using downscaled climate data” article for more information.

* There still a bit of dispute, or healthy debate, internally as to whether it will continue being called the Climate Information Portal (CIP), or whether it will be renamed the Climate Information Explorer (CIE).

The remainder of this article is kept for posterity. By keeping this as a record of our earlier work, we can chart developments in our thinking and tool-kit. To find out about the new version of the CCE, the Climate Information Portal, start here.

The Climate Change Explorer Tool (CCE)

Design of the Climate Change Explorer Tool

Download a brief for the Climate Change Explorer here or download the tool itself from here – you will need a separate password, please contact us to be given one.

New! Q&A for the Climate Change Explorer!

Facilitating an advanced understanding of long-term climate forecasts for screening adaptation strategies and actions.

The Concept, Rationale and Demand

Adaptation is a social process. It requires us to assess and respond to climatic impacts, to increase adaptive capacity and resilience to multiple stresses, and to formulate plans and policies in ways which reduce the risk of adverse outcomes in the future. A key step in improving the way adaptation strategies are developed is to make use of the best available science to take stock of the extent, condition and climatic trends that are currently experienced and that may be exhibited in the years to come. The purpose of this step is to identify strategies that are robust against a wide variety of future conditions, rather than assuming we can predict future impacts in detail and provide climate proofing measures.

Delivering information to decision makers is often a bottleneck in turning research results into effective decisions and policies. Successful integration and dissemination is dependent on creating flexible and scalable frameworks that can deliver information to a wide audience in ways that will enable these users to evaluate how best it may be applied. Yet in the complex nexus of ‘what actions to take, when, how and at what cost’, accurate information regarding expected risks posed by climatic change is lacking. Moreover, little attention has been given to the development of pragmatic tools that help decision-makers leverage the best available data when addressing their specific problems.

The Climate Change Explorer (CCE) is a tool that aims to facilitate the gathering of climatological information and its application to adaptation strategies and actions. The CCE packages data access routines with guidance and customized analytical and visualization procedures. It is designed to simplify the tasks associated with the extraction, query and analysis of climate information, thereby enabling users to address issues of uncertainty when devising policies and strategies, and also when implementing actions.

The CCE encourages users to focus on the conditions, assumptions and uncertainties of model-based statements about future climate. This enables them to evaluate the relevance of the information, the appropriateness of response options, and to make an informed assessment of risk. It presents an envelope analysis of ensembles which defines a domain of plausible climate change from a wide range of multi-model projections. It is driven by the search for climate spaces relevant to the localities and systems of interest. Exposure and adaptation are context-specific. An interactive exploration of the climate science is therefore critical to the provision of useful information, and appropriate contextualization for decision support.


The Climate Change Explorer provides users with an analytical foundation from which to explore the climate variables relevant to their particular adaptation decisions. The approach makes crucial links between understanding vulnerability, monitoring and projecting climate hazards and planning adaptation processes and is grounded on several key assumptions regarding the interpretation of climate science.

Design Overview

The Climate Change Explorer (CCE) Tool is a desktop client that provides an interface to download, manage and visualize downscaled model output.

Data Availability

Data access routines to download station level response to GCM output from the IPCC AR4 Archive, empirically downscaled and available from the Climate Systems Analysis Group. Point location information downscaled1 from Global Circulation Models (GCM) provide the local (station-scale) response to the large scale forcing as shown on the GCM. These data provide an indication of both past and future climate and are currently distributed in daily and monthly time series for stations across Africa and Asia, with future plans for other regions of the world. This includes downscaled daily temperature and rainfall data and monthly rainfall data and derivative statistics.


The Climate Change Explorer toot is part of a package of methods, approaches, and exercises designed to assist decision makers in making sound decisions regarding climate change adaptation. Learning through hands-on work with partners is central to the design of the Climate Change Explorer, and several hands-on training sessions have been organized to improve targeting of user needs and analytical skills.

Introductory User’s Manual

This manual offers guidance for first time users of the Climate Change Explorer Tool.

Development and Coordination

Learning through hands-on work with partners is central to the design of the Climate Change Explorer. Development is therefore envisioned under two phases. Phase I is being iteratively developed and tested with key partners. Phase II development will provide access to advanced analysis techniques, including the graphical representation of uncertainty and guidance on the implications for estimating future climate change.

Development is a collaborative effort between the Stockholm Environment Institute, the Climate Systems Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town, and AWhere Inc. The Climate Change Explorer is an integral part of weADAPT, a collaborative effort to make climate risk management decisions practical, yet robust. The tool is available for download from the weADAPT portal.

For detailed development updates, see the Working Group on the Climate Change Explorer page.


Fernanda Zermoglio, Stockholm Environment Institute

Tom Downing Stockholm Environment Institute

Bruce Hewitson Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town.

Mark Tadross Climate System Analysis Group at the University of Cape Town.

Related Training Events


  • weADAPT and the Climate Change Explorer, a presentation from May 2008.

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  • Climate Envelopes Poster presented at the EGU General Assembly 2008

Relevant Background Information

Interpretive Guidance Note

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