Informing Emergency and Risk Management With Climate Knowledge in Arid Urban Areas
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Wednesday, 7 January 2015: 11:30 AM
226C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Urban decision makers in Arizona's growing megapolitan area and the Southwestern United States as a whole are faced with myriad challenges related to prolonged drought and extreme heat events, extreme monsoon rain events, and other potential climate extremes. Of particular concern are the direct impacts on water resources, wildfire management, flash flood and erosion management, the health implications of these events, and other societal impacts such as those on agriculture, energy production and manufacturing. This talk overviews the preliminary work of a cross-disciplinary team of social, decision, and climate scientists at Arizona State University that have come together to work closely with local and regional hazard mitigation and preparedness planners to understand what long term decisions will be influenced by climate knowledge and how they relate within the whole physical-social system. Previous work with these communities has emphasized the presentation of complex science facts and trying to ascertain requirements with and assumed or implicit motivation to consider climate change. In this project, we acknowledge two levels of knowledge needs, the rationale centered on facts, and the beliefs/values derived by individual or group experiences and influences. Beliefs and values are dominant in decisions making it essential to understand what influences and changes beliefs in particular when it comes to the controversies portrayed about climate. This talk will discuss the initial phase of work with local and regional emergency management (EM) communities to understand viewpoints and beliefs about climate science and barriers to rational information being actionable by overcoming beliefs and values. The perspectives outlined in this project are those of the mitigation and preparedness planners across a diverse set of domains including health, public works, emergency management, water resources, air quality, transportation and others who have long lead time requirements in their planning. The first phase is focused on establishing a baseline of beliefs that foster and inhibits climate actions, and identifying current information streams that establish these beliefs. The talk will outline the second phase that will iterative process that will shape the discovery of the influences or overage points in the system that can help infuse new climate knowledge into decision processes.
The nature of climate understanding and how it needs to be infused into the emergency management community to effectively handle risk management, mitigation and adaptation implementations must be determined first before new products or services of climate information can be determined. Through an iterative use of focus groups of community, state and local entities, the complexity and critical knowledge needs are exposed and confirmed. We have adapted a social analysis framework, WxEM, previously used to link weather knowledge to emergency management needs, to now connect climate science with potential local and regional risk managers in emergency preparedness and planning. Within this framework, we have identified preliminary critical knowledge needed to prioritize preparation, mitigation and adaptation efforts across a range of extremes such as prolonged drought and extreme heat events. A key of our approach is to allow the community of decision makers to lead us to what they need to understand within their decision processes and work backwards to how that knowledge can be effectively provided. The framework is a proven 4-step method that includes 1) iteratively using focus groups, surveys, and interviews to establish a baseline for understanding social network of planners, decision making priorities, and socio-economic influences, 2) defining current practices and characterizing risk and uncertainty that lead to beliefs, 3) comparing the EM communities needs with the products and services offered by NOAA and identifying knowledge gaps, and 4) prototyping solutions to the gaps within the context of climate extremes.