670 Structured Partnerships and Communicating Science: The Case of Tailored Weather Products for Fire and Smoke Management

Wednesday, 26 January 2011
Washington State Convention Center
Timothy J. Brown, DRI, Reno, Nevada; and B. J. Morehouse and C. A. Kolden

Growing interest in the potential for science-society collaborations to address pressing societal issues, including weather and climate impacts, has led to a body of research focused on collaborative production of science and policy. One large initiative in this realm is, for example, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Regional Integrated Science and Assessment (RISA) program. The precise nature and longevity of such initiatives largely depends upon the level of time and resources required to achieve mutually agreed upon results, the complexity and magnitude of the task and the willingness and capacity of the participants to remain engaged throughout the process. Where end results require either new research or transformation of science into usable forms, intensive collaboration, such as that offered by well-structured partnerships, may be especially needed. Partnerships, by nature of their more formal structure and attributes, present a useful alternative for addressing problems that require long-term cooperation, dedicated funding, committed personnel, and focused oversight and management. The California and Nevada Smoke and Air Committee (CANSAC) is an example of the types of partnerships that are emerging to link best-available meteorological science with pressing societal needs, in this case wildland fire and related smoke management. We chose to analyze the success of CANSAC based on its stated goals of co-producing science for decision-making, the types of partners involved and its administrative structure. A CANSAC survey was designed to elicit evaluative responses from participants about the extent to which the CANSAC partnership meets the fundamental criteria for achieving and sustaining effective partnership status. CANSAC members surveyed see their roles as communicating with partners, evaluating results, providing advice, communicating with other entities and formulating plans. The survey evaluative questions were organized around six general categories: partnership structure, organizational design, availability of resources, CANSAC management, CANSAC leadership and CANSAC progress. It is clear that communicating science is a critical component of this partnership. In this presentation, we offer a discussion on science-society collaborations and partnerships, a brief background on CANSAC, and a report on the results of the survey and a re-survey of its members, which were designed to elicit members' evaluation of criteria essential to achieving and sustaining formal partnership status. Emphasis will be given to communicating science within the CANSAC partnership and outside entities that utilize the produced information.
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