The IPCC AR5 guidance note on consistent treatment of uncertainties: a common approach across the working groups

Mastrandrea, Michael D.; Mach, Katharine J.; Plattner, Gian-Kasper; Edenhofer, Ottmar; Stocker, Thomas F.; Field, Christopher B.; Ebi, Kristie L.; Matschoss, Patrick R. (2011). The IPCC AR5 guidance note on consistent treatment of uncertainties: a common approach across the working groups. Climatic change, 108(4), pp. 675-691. Springer 10.1007/s10584-011-0178-6

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Evaluation and communication of the relative degree of certainty in assessment findings are key cross-cutting issues for the three Working Groups of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. A goal for the Fifth Assessment Report, which is currently under development, is the application of a common framework with associated calibrated uncertainty language that can be used to characterize findings of the assessment process. A guidance note for authors of the Fifth Assessment Report has been developed that describes this common approach and language, building upon the guidance employed in past Assessment Reports. Here, we introduce the main features of this guidance note, with a focus on how it has been designed for use by author teams. We also provide perspectives on considerations and challenges relevant to the application of this guidance in the contribution of each Working Group to the Fifth Assessment Report. Despite the wide spectrum of disciplines encompassed by the three Working Groups, we expect that the framework of the new uncertainties guidance will enable consistent communication of the degree of certainty in their policy-relevant assessment findings.

Item Type:

Journal Article (Original Article)


08 Faculty of Science > Physics Institute > Climate and Environmental Physics
10 Strategic Research Centers > Oeschger Centre for Climate Change Research (OCCR)

UniBE Contributor:

Plattner, Gian-Kasper and Stocker, Thomas


500 Science > 530 Physics








Doris Rätz

Date Deposited:

17 May 2021 11:25

Last Modified:

05 Dec 2022 15:50

Publisher DOI:





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