87th AMS Annual Meeting

Tuesday, 16 January 2007: 4:45 PM
Shifting Research Priorities: The Role of Human Dimensions of Global Change Research
209 (Henry B. Gonzalez Convention Center)
Genevieve E. Maricle, Arizona State Univ., Tempe, AZ
For several years, the only known dimension of global change research was in the natural sciences. It was the purview of geologists, biologists, and atmospheric scientists, not of sociologists, economists, or political scientists. But in the 1980's, things began to change. Climate-sensitive communities around the world began to recognize their vulnerability to changes in climate. They wanted to know more: to understand the societal impacts of global change.

Consequently, 1990 saw the advent of several formal human dimensions of global change research programs around the world. These programs continually aim to understand the human causes, consequences, and responses to global environmental change. They also seek to inform and influence program managers' decisions about what research to fund, and therefore what climate information to produce. For example, if human dimensions research reveals that seasonal climate forecasts can increase the resilience of farmers, it promotes further research and development of seasonal climate forecasts.

Thus, human dimensions research aims to impact the kind of science that we fund and the kind of products that we produce. Now after 16 years of human dimensions research, this paper assesses its impacts, its successes, and its failures. It asks: how did climate science change with the funding of human dimensions research? Does human dimensions research, in fact, influence the climate products we produce and the research we do? Does it achieve its goals? This paper will attempt to answer these questions, and to suggest next steps for this type of research.

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