TJ38.1 Reducing Barriers to the Use of Climate Data in Adaptation Planning (invited)

Wednesday, 9 January 2013: 1:30 PM
Room 12B (Austin Convention Center)
Richard B. Rood, Univ. of Michigan, Ann Arbor, MI

International programs, federal agencies, and the community of climate scientists have gone to great lengths to assure that climate data are freely available. This includes both observations and projections from climate models. Despite this availability, many studies point to the difficulty of using climate data in policy and planning. These studies cite large differences between what scientists think is useful information and what practitioners find usable. Many issues need to be addressed if the barriers between perceived usefulness and usability are to be reduced.

Analysis of the barriers reveals issues that are technical and non-technical, quantitative and qualitative. In the domain of technical barriers there are issues such as data formats, for example, the formats used by scientific communities and the formats used in GIS communities and web-based mapping applications. Other examples include presentation of climate variables that are not easily transformed to indices used for analysis by practitioners, fundamental misunderstandings of the role of scientific uncertainty in the development of policy and planning, inconsistent terms of use, and heterogeneous security policies.

One of the most robust conclusions from the study of the successful use of climate knowledge is the need for frequent iteration between the producers and consumers of climate information. For the climate information to be salient in policy and planning, the specific context of the application is often critical. Therefore, there is a scaling problem; namely, how can a relatively small community of scientist data providers scale to meet the demand of a very large community of climate data users. This talk advocates that one of the approaches of meeting this scaling challenge and reducing the technical barriers to use of climate information is through community-based development of translational tools. These tools need to be focused on interfaces between communities, developed as services, with adherence to the standards of the communities acting at the interfaces. Specific examples are given of emerging efforts with attention to strategies to encourage the evolution of more vigorous and effective participation in community tool building.

- Indicates paper has been withdrawn from meeting
- Indicates an Award Winner