Practice-Relevant Adaptation Science across Climate Timescales: We are Doing, but What are We Learning?

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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 10:30 AM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Roger Pulwarty, NOAA, Boulder, CO; and C. Nierenberg and R. Webb

Climate variability and change impacts regions and nations, within and across sectors and communities.. The IPCC Special Report on Climate Extremes (2012), the UN Global Assessment of Disaster Risk Reduction (2011, 2013) and the IPCC AR5 and various national assessments outline the impacts, vulnerabilities and adaptations to extremes (drought, floods, high temperatures) underway and proposed in several countries and communities. Recent experiences around the world reflect the multidimensional challenges of response, recovery, planning and preparation. In recognition of such risks, the global community is developing a Global Framework for Climate Services, the post-2015 Hyogo disaster risk reduction Framework, and climate-sensitive development strategies. Developing and communicating climate and climate impacts information under changing baselines and extremes, represent critical emergent needs. Failure to adapt adequately to existing climate risks largely accounts for what has been called “the adaptation deficit ” between the present and what is needed for future or emergent conditions. In this presentation, we map the evolution of adaptation plans and service experiences to date and those needed for contributing to improved decision-making processes in a changing climate. Because the coordination of timely production and delivery of useful climate data, information and knowledge to nations, communities and decision makers engages multiple networks and information services infrastructure to support these plans and their implementation, it is a social process as much as it is a technical or scientific one. Services, as a collaborative endeavor, build on and establish relationships that inspire appreciation for climate risk management and stimulate innovation in adaptation planning. While existing "service-type" activities can be identified in many settings (e.g. federal, academic, private), we show that the challenge becomes one of crafting effective implementation strategies for improving decision quality (not just meeting "user needs"). Where service-type activities overlap and can best contribute is in coordinating innovation mapping and diffusion, and most importantly highlighting common interests among the different groups. Early warnings of changes in the physical system and of social and economic thresholds can reveal critical points that affect management priorities. To develop the necessary risk communication, procedures and tools requires continued scientific, technical and operational efforts using measures which can be altered or revised or are robust to changing conditions, and, importantly, align with or stimulate institutional capacities. Linking risk management to resilience involves a portfolio of actions to reduce and transfer risk and to respond to climate events and disasters. However, the need for planning consistency, robustness of networks, and legal requirements militate against the rush to transition. In too many instances, “co-production” is advocated as a panacea, without careful consideration of co-optation, loss of credibility and most importantly, the consequence of valuing some communities over others. Adaptation practices include developing entrepreneurship and anticipatory coordination for proactive risk management and early warning information systems across temporal and spatial scales. Specific examples from international and nation efforts in which the authors have been engaged will show that such knowledge and capacity is most effectively acted upon during windows of opportunity, where collaborative frameworks between research and management exist, and deliberate mechanisms and networks to monitor and inform learning are supported and sustained.