8.2 Innovating Drought Communications in North Carolina through Decision-Maker Engagement

Wednesday, 15 January 2020: 3:15 PM
252B (Boston Convention and Exhibition Center)
Corey N. Davis, North Carolina State Univ., Raleigh, NC; and R. V. Ward and K. Lackstrom

Drought is a routine and impactful part of North Carolina’s climate that can affect a wide range of sectors including agriculture, forestry, and water resources. However, unlike other weather events such as hurricanes and severe thunderstorms, information about drought climatology, monitoring, and impacts are not always perceived as being readily available, usable, or sufficient for stakeholders in those vulnerable sectors.

Motivated by these apparent shortcomings of existing drought information, the State Climate Office of North Carolina and the Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments have collaborated to assess, design, and implement new weather, climate, and drought resources aimed to help decision-makers in our three targeted sectors better understand and respond to drought events.

This project began in fall 2018 with surveys and webinars for extension agents, foresters, water resource managers, and partner organizations such as local National Weather Service offices, the USDA Southeast Regional Climate Hub, the US Geological Survey, and the US Army Corps of Engineers. Based on their feedback, prototypes showing information such as short-range weather outlooks and weekly drought status updates were developed and refined through focus group discussions, eye tracking studies, and other mechanisms. Beginning in spring 2019, these resources were then pilot tested with a sample user group to assess usability and utility during a drought event.

This presentation will cover key findings from our user engagement, including the need to translate scientific information such as CPC outlooks into less-technical and sector-specific guidance, and the process used to convert feedback from needs assessments into actionable resources delivered in users’ preferred formats.

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