J1.2 Producing usable climate science for climate services: what your research organization needs to know

Tuesday, 19 July 2011: 3:45 PM
Salon C (Asheville Renaissance)
Elizabeth C. McNie, Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN

Many politicians, researchers, and government officials are calling for the creation of a National Climate Service that will support decision-making for adapting to a changing climate. Delivering effective climate services not only involves the production of climate science that is contextual, credible, and trusted by the users, but also requires the integration of such information into the decision makers' existing knowledge systems so they know what the science means, and how it can help improve their decisions. Moreover, decisions about adapting to a changing climate are made among a variety of competing interests and values including economic, social, political, and ethical demands, and thus the climate science needs to be contextual, reflecting the various constraints and opportunities of climate policy options. Research organizations seeking to provide climate science information for decision support will need to re-examine their methods and approaches to the production, dissemination and translation of their research outputs. This paper and presentation will address the organizational approaches that best support the production, delivery and integration of climate science information for decision support based on research that examined the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) programs that serve as prototypes for climate service organizations. Research indicates that these organizations effectively delivered climate services when they reconciled their research agendas with decision makers' information needs; translated, communicated, and shared knowledge early and often; supported the production of social capital; built capacity in the user community to understand and utilize the climate science information; and maintained a flexible and nimble organization guided by strong leadership. Delivering effective climate services is a complex, highly contextual and social process which requires a clear mission and organizational intent, understanding the constraints and opportunities of doing this kind of research, and thinking strategically about where to situate social capital. Most of all, it requires researchers who understand that delivering climate services means doing research in new ways.
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