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The Climate System Analysis Group (CSAG) Winter School started in 2009 in partnership with the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), with financial support from United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR). The aim of the school was to provide an overview of the latest, relevant climate science as well as sector specific case studies and experiences on the use of vulnerability and climate information to practitioners engaged at various levels of decision making. This initiative enabled the establishment of a top of the line computer training facility at the Environmental and Geographical Science Department (ENGEO) department in the University of Cape Town (UCT). It also provided guidance, insights and a thorough needs assessment that contributed to the development of the CSAG Climate Information Platform (CIP).

Since the establishment of the course, the curriculum and content has been refined, augmented and designed to suit the needs of each year’s participant groups. The course provides a venue for hands-on work and guidance on the analysis and interpretation of climate data, and on understanding the regional contexts of vulnerability and climate change. The course structure has been adapted to accommodate participant learning goals and needs, and combines lectures with informal discussions, interactive exercises and hands on working sessions. Presenters and facilitators are from both CSAG and external institutions. External contributors change every year, but in the past external contributors have included the Stockholm Environmental Institute (SEI), South African National Botanical Institution (SANBI), Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) and the City of Cape Town, Energy Research Centre (ERC) at UCT and an Independent Climate Change focused Journalist. There is a focus on the needs of developing countries especially in Africa, and case studies are based around these. The course aims to address the needs of participants and understand some of their constraints whilst taking participants through the full spectrum of climate and climate change related topics. These include:

  • Climate dynamics and system feedbacks
  • Climate modelling and downscaling theory
  • Climate change projections
  • Risk and vulnerability framing, assessment approaches and methodologies
  • Climate adaptation frameworks
  • Adaptation planning, policy and decision making
  • Climate information distillation
  • Climate services