1.5 Blending Coproduction and Conventional Research Approaches to Address Real-World Climate Challenges

Monday, 13 January 2020: 11:30 AM
153A (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Stephanie A. McAfee, Univ. of Nevada, Reno, Reno, NV; and J. S. Littell, H. R. Prendeville, S. T. Gray, A. Jacobs, R. Thoman Jr., D. J. Bathke, A. Bidlack, P. Bieniek, R. Lader, T. S. Rupp, and G. J. Wolken

Research has repeatedly shown that knowledge co-production is effective, but it is also time and resource intensive. This can make it difficult to fully employ coproduction techniques in the face of emergent problems. Here we show how having the foundational components of coproduction—existing regional collaborative relationships and related research—already in place, facilitates rapid engagement of stakeholders in response to a previously poorly identified problem. Namely, defining drought metrics for southeast Alaska. Southeast Alaska, one of the world’s wettest regions, is experiencing unusual precipitation deficits with significant negative impacts to fisheries, drinking water availability, power production, and ecosystem health, resulting in unprecedented drought impacts. Until onset of the current drought, it was unclear just how inappropriate existing drought metrics were for a place where extreme drought is also characterized by annual precipitation in excess of 100 inches and glacial flooding triggered by high temperatures. Lacking drought metrics hinders the development of a coordinated drought response. The current drought in southeast Alaska began in early 2018, with much of the region experiencing D2, severe drought, by autumn 2018 and D3, severe drought, impacting about half of southern southeast Alaska by May 2019. In early May of 2019, the USDA Northwest Climate Hub hosted a day-long workshop in partnership with the National Weather Service Juneau Forecast Office, USGS Alaska Climate Adaptation Science Center and the National Drought Mitigation Center. This workshop brought together over 90 representatives federal, state, local and tribal governments, private business, academia and non-profit organizations to better define what drought looks like and identify reporting and research needs. Initial outcomes from the workshop are already available. Drought reporting has increased, work has begun to better define drought impacts in the area, and new areas of research were identified. However, research on southeast Alaska hydroclimate by state and federal climate service providers, and spurred partly by stakeholder input, dates back nearly a decade. Moreover, on-going dynamical climate model downscaling work, which required a substantial initial investment of time and resources, appears poised to allow better understanding of the current and future droughts, as well as to provide rapid response tools for other emerging climate questions. In this case, existing research and relationships positioned regional climate service providers to respond rapidly and collaboratively when challenging climate conditions emerged.
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