92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 11:00 AM
Using Semi-Structured Interviews to Assess the Climate-Related Needs of Oklahoma Decision-Makers
Room 243 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Rachel E. Riley, Univ. of Oklahoma, Norman, OK; and K. L. Nemunaitis

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) conducted a weather and climate needs assessment in Oklahoma as part of the National Climate Assessment. Twenty-three semi-structured interviews were carried out with various federal, state, tribal, and local agencies across the following sectors: agricultural production, ecosystems, energy, health, society/public safety, transportation, and water resources. The data revealed the most significant climate-related issues that Oklahoma decision-makers are currently facing and anticipate they will face in the future, the spatial and temporal scales in which they make decisions, and their need for climate information, education, and decision-support tools.

This presentation will focus on the methodological choices used to gather data. The assessment was carried out with the mindset that building long-term relationships would be the most effective way to accurately understand and address the needs of each agency. Thus, semi-structured interviews were conducted in-person. The semi-structured approach allowed for consistent findings but also provided the opportunity for participants to focus on the climate-related issues they deemed most important. Participants were recruited by email and phone based on their participation in a December 2009 meeting on climate adaptation planning, a prior relationship with a SCIPP or Oklahoma Climatological Survey employee, or snowball sampling (i.e., one participant suggested another person to contact for an interview). The interview protocol was designed to answer four research questions but was comprised of about 20 questions overall. The questions were refined throughout the interview process to reveal the most relevant and appropriate protocol. The participants were given a copy of the protocol and consent form prior to the interview which gave them the opportunity to familiarize themselves with the questions. At the beginning of the interview, the interviewer described the purpose of the study, discussed the difference between weather and climate, and asked them to fill out a short demographic survey. Interviews were recorded and transcribed, and the data were analyzed thematically and according to the sectors that were consistent with the 2009 National Climate Assessment. Cross-sector analysis also occurred.

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