PL1.4 Delivering scientific information and tools to decision makers

Monday, 18 July 2011: 9:40 AM
Salon C (Asheville Renaissance)
Jim F. Fox, University of North Carolina at Asheville, Asheville, NC; and K. Lichtenstein, M. Phillips, J. G. Dobson, and T. Pierce

Climate and climate change information is now more widely available than ever before and many groups are looking to apply this information for decision making. However, much of this information is not easily accessible in formats that can be clearly interpreted by non-scientific and non-climate savvy users such as local and regional decision makers or the general public. As a result, there is a need for the translation of this scientific information into the decision space of policy and decision makers. To meet this need, UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) has developed a process that integrates trusted sources of climate information with other non-climate datasets (e.g. economic, environmental, cadastral, infrastructure, physical data), while providing novel tools and delivery techniques to enhance science communication and ultimately support more informed decisions with a better understanding of uncertainties. The process includes 1) integration of data and information, 2) development of web tools and visualizations, 3) communication and storytelling, and 4) facilitated group decision making.

Specifically, the initial stage of data integration occurs at county and regional scales in order to reflect decisions made by the end users including, but not limited to, city and county councils, emergency and first responders, and natural resource and community planners. This is followed by the development of web tools to help these end users better interpret climate information by using GIS, geospatial visualization technologies, and other web-based interactive technologies. This presentation will outline several of these interactive tools including (1) a global climate dashboard developed for the Climate Portal (, (2) a watershed-monitoring viewer developed for the National Integrated Drought Information System (, and (3) an interactive web tool that helps natural resource managers integrate climate change science into land management planning. Additionally, several techniques will be highlighted that show how end users interact with these web technologies through facilitated group environments. Thus, this presentation will outline examples of tools and techniques that help address the integration of climate and climate information for decision support.

The work described here involved a multi-disciplinary collaboration between the University of North Carolina at Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC), the Renaissance Computing Institute at UNC Asheville, the US Forest Service, the National Weather Service, the National Climatic Data Center, and other local and regional partners. NEMAC focuses on unique collaborations involving the academic, public, and private sectors.

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