What are scenarios?

Scenarios are devices for analyzing situations in which outcomes are uncertain. The goal of working with scenarios is not to predict the future but to better understand uncertainties and alternative futures, in order to consider how robust different decisions or options may be under a wide range of possible futures. In climate change research, scenarios describe plausible trajectories of different aspects of the future that are constructed to investigate the potential consequences of anthropogenic climate change. Scenarios represent many of the major driving forces - including processes, impacts (physical, ecological, and socioeconomic), and potential responses – that are important for informing climate change analysis.

Emissions scenarios
Emissions scenarios describe future releases to the atmosphere of greenhouse gases, aerosols, and other pollutants and, along with information on land use and land cover, provide inputs to climate models. They are based on assumptions about driving forces such as patterns of economic, population growth, and technology development. In addition to their use as inputs to climate models, emissions scenarios are used in research on mitigation. They do not track "short-term" fluctuations such as business cycles or oil market price volatility but focus on long-term (e.g., decades) trends. 

Climate scenarios 
Climate scenarios are plausible representations of future climate conditions (temperature, precipitation, and other aspects of climate such as extreme events). They can be produced using a variety of approaches including analysis of observations, models, and other techniques such as extrapolation and expert judgment.

Source: IPCC: http://sedac.ipcc-data.org/ddc/ar5_scenario_process/scenario_background.html


What are Representative Agricultural Pathways (RAPs)?

These scenarios or "pathways" are combinations of bio-physical, economic, technology and policy drivers that represent a plausible range of possible futures. They are not meant to be predictions, but rather provide researchers with a range of plausible scenarios that can be used to simulate possible future outcomes in a consistent and transparent way. RAPs consist of a general narrative that describe the overall pathway and storylines about how each element may change and why it changes. RAPs narratives provide a framework in which qualitative and quantitative information can be translated into model parameters.

AgMIP RAPs also act to capture plausible farm-level improvements, as climate change impacts assessments that assume static farm management are generally pessimistic in their lack of development and adaptation (Burton et al., 2001). To better model crops at the farm scale, the economic, technological, and scientific development of each agricultural region will be used to specify plausible regional land use, irrigation, fertilizer and chemical applications, regional shifts in crop species, and improved genetic characteristics of cultivars that may be developed or more widely distributed in the coming decades. These more detailed analyses of adaptation will also improve the capacity to understand potential spatial relocation of crops in response to climate change, using both regional and global economic models.


What is an Adaptation Package?

The adaptation package describes cultivar, management, and agricultural sector policies specifically designed to increase production and resilience as climate changes.