|CATEGORY A: "TIMESCALES"|
What is the difference between climate and weather? Communicating the various timescales in which climate and weather interact with each other, and more importantly impact society, specifically the most vulnerable populations, is a challenge faced by climate risk managers [1,2,3].
Changes in climatic variables such as precipitation and temperature, occur on various timescales. Depending on the timescale of interest, the result of an analysis in the change of those variables could be completely different. The current climate and climate change projections of East Africa present a perfect opportunity to better contextualize the complexity of timescales. The East Africa “paradox”  can be summed up as the following: Rainfall patterns over the past 10 years have indicated a decrease in amount of rain over the East Africa region. Projections for the next 5-10 years also show a drying tendency. However, long term climate change projections, such as those for the year 2100 indicate an increase in rainfall. This “paradox” is important for decision makers to grasp as climate change adaptation strategies are devised to combat shifts in rainfall. Do we take action to prevent impact from drier than normal conditions (which have been observed and are likely to continue over a short (5-10 years) timescale? Or do we develop strategies to address the climate change projections for the year 2100, which indicate an increase in rainfall? Taking any action will have socioeconomic impacts on the most vulnerable communities.
Further, even though there has been a recent drying trend in East Africa, floods can occur and have occurred. The extreme events within a single year can occur opposite from the trend observed over a given timescale. Additionally, it is likely that 10-30 year cycles “stack the odds” in favor of dryer or wetter than average conditions. Lastly, El Niño or La Niña occur for 1 or 2 year periods approximately every 6-8 years. These events too may stack the odds in favor of drier or wetter conditions.
Also, the notion of timescales is an important component of Forecast-based Financing . Acknowledging the challenges leading to preparedness action being taken before a weather or climate disaster occurs, emotionally rooted communication tools are of interest.
Using art and music to incite an emotionally driven exploration of climate and weather may be useful to communicate the interaction of trends and extreme events.
Sound and music, like weather and climate, or examples of complex entities that can be traced back to mathematics. Each exist across various timescales. A piece can be described differently based on which section or sections are being considered for description. If just 1 second was considered, and that 1 second happened to be a cymbal crash, it is possible that the piece could be described as a loud, startling entity. It is also possible that the cymbal crash could be the only such disturbance in a 10 minutes adagio. This analogy holds true for climate and weather. An extreme event, such as a flood, is important, but the significance varies depending on which timescale it is considered to be a part of.
The value of this contest will be in its ability to support the Climate Centre when having the discussion, “what is the difference between climate and weather?” and conveying the idea that even though a trend (or projection of a trend) can be in one direction (drier conditions, over a 40 year period), that occurrences over shorter timescales which reflect the opposite trend (flood, or a very rainy 2 year period), can still occur and it is not necessarily a sign of the reversal of the longer timescale trend .
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