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Definition of Terms Used Within the DDC Pages


The term "projection" is used in two senses in the climate change literature. In general usage, a projection can be regarded as any description of the future and the pathway leading to it. However, a more specific interpretation has been attached to the term "climate projection" by the IPCC when referring to model-derived estimates of future climate.


When a projection is branded "most likely" it becomes a forecast or prediction. A forecast is often obtained using deterministic models, possibly a set of these, outputs of which can enable some level of confidence to be attached to projections.

<a name="anchorDefScenario"</a>Scenario

A scenario is a coherent, internally consistent and plausible description of a possible future state of the world. It is not a forecast; rather, each scenario is one alternative image of how the future can unfold. A projection may serve as the raw material for a scenario, but scenarios often require additional information (e.g., about baseline conditions). A set of scenarios is often adopted to reflect, as well as possible, the range of uncertainty in projections. Other terms that have been used as synonyms for scenario are "characterisation", "storyline" and "construction".

Scenario Family

One or more scenarios that have the same demographic, politico-societal, economic and technological storyline.


A narrative description of a scenario (or a family of scenarios), highlighting the main scenario characteristics and dynamics, and the relationships between key driving forces.


The baseline (or reference) is any datum against which change is measured. It might be a "current baseline", in which case it represents observable, present-day conditions. It might also be a "future baseline", which is a projected future set of conditions excluding the driving factor of interest. Alternative interpretations of the reference conditions can give rise to multiple baselines.

<a name="anchorDefExposureUnit"</a>Exposure Unit

An exposure unit is an activity, group, region or resource exposed to significant climatic variations.