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Towards a comprehensive characterization of evidence in synthesis assessments: the climate change impacts on the Brazilian water resources

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The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) has put a lot of efforts to describe uncertainties and to judge the confidence level of its major conclusions. Despite a guidance to communicate uncertainty, the assignment of confidence is not sufficiently clear and, thus, hard to be reproduced by the extern community. By conducting a synthesis assessment about the impacts of climate change on the Brazilian water resources, we identified an opportunity to illustrate the characterization of evidence as adopted in IPCC reports. We propose a method to describe the evidence from model outputs wherein the quality and amount of studies, as well as the consistency among their conclusions, are subject of a transparent rating procedure. In summary, the more comprehensive the study in sampling uncertainties, the higher its quality. Likewise, the amount and consistency among conclusions is assigned in a systematic way. The method is applied for synthesizing a collection of 42 peer-reviewed articles. It reveals important aspects about the evidence of the potential impacts of climate change in the Brazilian water resources, such as changes into a drier hydrological regime. However, the use of multi-model ensemble, the evaluation of models, and the observational data is limited. The proposed method enables consistent communication of the degree of evidence in a transparent, traceable, and comprehensive fashion. The method can be used as a tool to support experts on their judgment. The approach is reproducible and can guide synthesis work not only in Brazil but anywhere else.

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Atlântico Leste




Atlântico Nordeste Ocidental


Atlântico Nordeste Oriental


Atlântico Sudeste


Atlântico Sul


Bias correction


Bias correction score


Score of the calibration criteria of BC


Score of the calibration criteria of DS


Score of the calibration criteria of HM


Climate modeling


Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 3


Coupled Model Intercomparison Project Phase 5


Climate modeling score




Downscaling score


Score of ensemble size of CM


Score of the ensemble size of DS


Score of the ensemble size of HM


Emission/radiative forcing scenarios


Empirical statistical downscaling


Emission/radiative forcing scenarios score


Global climate model


Hydrological modeling


Hydrological modeling score


Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change


Score of observational network density of rainfall data of BC


Score of observational network density of river discharge data of HM


Score of observational network density of rainfall data of DS


Observational network density


Score of observational network density of rainfall data of HM








Maximum discharge


Mean discharge


Minimum discharge


Quality score


Regional climate model


Representative concentration pathways


Score of range of ES


São Francisco


Special report on emissions scenarios


Score of the type of BC


Score of type of ES


Score of the type of HM






Score of the validation criteria of BC


Score of version of CM


Score of the validation criteria of DS


Score of the validation criteria of HM


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The authors acknowledge the Brazilian National Council for Scientific and Technological Development (CNPq) for funding this study (Grant Numbers: 150768/2017-6 and 159528/2018-6)

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Correspondence to Pablo Borges de Amorim.

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Borges de Amorim, P., Chaffe, P.B. Towards a comprehensive characterization of evidence in synthesis assessments: the climate change impacts on the Brazilian water resources. Climatic Change 155, 37–57 (2019).

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