5B.6A Communicating Climate Information across Binational Boundaries at the Regional Scale—Lessons Learned from North America

Tuesday, 9 January 2018: 11:45 AM
Room 6B (ACC) (Austin, Texas)
Meredith Muth, NOAA, Silver Spring, MD; and B. Appleby, S. Borisoff, B. R. Brettschneider, D. P. Brown, J. Saldaña Colín, S. Deland, R. J. Fleetwood, G. M. Garfin, E. De Groot, M. Ibarra, D. R. Kluck, S. Leroy, E. Mecray, J. L. Partain Jr., R. Thoman, and M. E. Woloszyn

Communities are increasingly requesting climate information that is tailored at regional scales to better understand unique, local impacts and risks. To meet this demand, NOAA and other partners are producing periodic synthesis reports that efficiently communicate critical information about climate conditions and impacts for specific regions. This effort, which began in 2012, now includes many specialized regional products that are all produced collaboratively with numerous partner organizations. Four of these ‘Regional Climate Impacts and Outlook Reports’ are now being developed jointly on a regular basis with Canada (Gulf of Maine, Great Lakes, Alaska and Northwest Canada) and Mexico (Rio Grande-Rio Bravo). Produced on either a quarterly or monthly basis, these reports describe seasonal weather and climate variations and impacts during the previous three-month period, and a climate forecast for the coming three-month season. This binational coordination results in seamless, bilingual (when necessary), highly coordinated products that are transferrable across boundaries.

While the development and partnership process varies between regions, there are shared lessons for addressing obstacles unique to the binational context; these include differing languages, merging of seasonal outlooks based on different forecast models and release schedules, measurement units, topical foci, and web hosting challenges. Despite various challenges, the collaborative efforts have demonstrated mutual benefits for the U.S., Canada, and Mexico. Contributors and audiences for each of the countries have found the reports useful for increasing decision-makers’ awareness of their region’s climate and its impacts, and at different governmental scales (local, state, provincial, and federal). Moreover, regularly produced online products serve as a starting point for discussions with stakeholders about their needs for more specific and more process- or research-based climate services, such as adaptation or drought plans, workshops, and forecasts for specific parameters and lead-times.

At the technical level, joint bilateral efforts encourage each country to review and blend climate information from both sides of the border into single sets of products, and to explain discrepancies between forecasts. Having an organized binational group at a regional scale has aided in the assessment and communication of other potential climate events of interest in a specific region (e.g., El Niño Impacts on the Great Lakes, seasonal drivers in the Gulf of Maine). These collaborations have led to the improvements of existing products, such as developing 30-year climate averages for the Great Lakes region, that synchronize with U.S. averages to produce a geographically uninterrupted map across the international border.

Evaluation of these products has occurred both formally (e.g., surveys) and informally (e.g., email, word of mouth, workshops). Feedback has been positive, with product users approving of the content, the length, and the level of complexity of the narrative. A key component to the success of these international collaborations is developing and encouraging a sustained dialogue on climate issues, which can be especially valuable during major extreme events. Initiatives such as the North American Climate Services Partnership (NACSP) can provide platforms for the exchange of knowledge, experiences, and lessons learned across the different regions.

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