6.3 Towards a scalable climate adaptation approach – it's all about the decision

Tuesday, 8 January 2013: 4:00 PM
Room 19A (Austin Convention Center)
James F. Fox, Univ. of North Carolina, Asheville, NC; and J. G. Dobson, K. L. Rogers, M. W. Hutchins, and J. D. Morgan

UNC Asheville's National Environmental Modeling and Analysis Center (NEMAC) has worked on a variety of projects over the past two years dealing with climate change impacts and related adaptation activities. These projects have been with different groups of decision makers, and we have found that the type of climate data needed and the way to visualize this data is directly tied to the scale and type of decision that is being made. The finer the scale, the more action is likely. This is true for both spatial and temporal scales. Larger scales require much more planning and prioritization, and decision makers find it more difficult to deal with the uncertainty.

In addition to temporal and spatial scales, the decision making process becomes more complex when there is a combination of sectors that are dealing with climate adaptation. Different sectors (e.g. transportation, energy, natural resources, etc.) require different types of climate and related information. While climate is one important part of the equation, often it is not the most important driver. Impacts are typically the result of a climate variable interacting with non-climate variables (e.g. development, infrastructure, topography, land use/land cover, etc.) that in combination cause a true impact to a system.

Finally, data dissemination is critical. Decision makers and other stakeholders wish to receive data in different formats (e.g. standard tabular data, static maps) through such outlets as interactive web maps, online portals, and online viewers. The geospatial component is a key part of the data distribution, and NEMAC has developed numerous tools to provide this information across a wide range of platforms.

This paper will present how the above-mentioned factors came together for five projects at different scales:

• City of Asheville, North Carolina – flood management issues on a local watershed scale.

• North Carolina Mountain Resource Commission - climate information integrated with other threats and opportunities to address long term planning issues and examine new opportunities.

• Southeast Natural Resource Leaders Group – 20 counties around the Albemarle-Pamlico region in Eastern North Carolina with specific focus on sea level rise adaptation.

• North Carolina Interagency Leadership Team and its North Carolina's Climate Adaptation Plan – long term planning and sensitivity of long range exposure of state assets to climate change.

• National Cohesive Wildfire Strategy – Controlling fuels and ignitions while reacting to weather. As the climate changes, more action will be needed related to fuels and ignitions.

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