2.2 Communicating Climate Science for Agricultural Management in Corn-Based Cropping Systems

Monday, 7 January 2013: 1:45 PM
Room 19A (Austin Convention Center)
Adam K. Wilke, Iowa State Univ., Ames, IA; and L. W. Morton

State Climate Offices have a unique position in their ability to provide weather and climate information to the American public, including agriculture producers. In order to create effective risk management portfolios for adapting to and mitigating increasingly variable weather conditions, farmers need access to reliable and site-specific long term weather information. However, scientific climate information is rarely translated for application in developing useable agriculture management decision support tools. This may be a result of social and political factors that influence contrasting perceptions of global climate change and hinder the ability of scientific experts to infuse science into the climate discourse throughout the public community. In order to investigate the social barriers and opportunities to climate science information diffusion, 22 State and Extension Climatologists in the North Central Region of the United States were surveyed and interviewed regarding their interactions with the agriculture sector. Quantitative findings offer complementary data to a random sample survey of nearly 5,000 agriculture producers in this Corn Belt region, and provide insight into perceptions of availability and usefulness of climate information between Climatologists and Farmers. Qualitative interview findings provide content to extend and illustrate survey results, and also further assess various techniques of communication employed among State Climate Offices. Data are analyzed using Fischoff's (1995) Stages of Communication framework, which assigns climate science information and communication to distinct phases. Preliminary results suggest that Climatologists must not only provide objective and accurate information, but also make the information relevant and important to the agriculture sector. Further, it appears to be important for climate science information to be communicated through local and trusted sources. Implications for engaging the public in weather observation to increase site-specific information will also be discussed. Results of this analysis will be useful for informing the development of appropriate agricultural management decision support tools to ensure that corn-based cropping systems in the North Central Region will remain productive and profitable in the face of increasing weather variability.
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