First Symposium on Policy Research


In search of new options: characterizing and defining atmospheric science policy research

Genevieve E. Maricle, Univ. of Colorado, Boulder, CO; and L. Dilling and R. A. Pielke

Over the past several decades, issues related to atmospheric science research increasingly appear on the radar of decision makers from the local to the international level. Communities and businesses feel vulnerable to extreme weather events, urban air quality problems, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change; and they must make policy decisions about these issues. Consequently, people inside and outside of the atmospheric science community continually call for better knowledge of the interaction between atmospheric science and decisions.

For example, in the context of weather enterprise discussions, Cliff Mass and the NRC suggest that “today, there is reason for considerable concern about planning for atmospheric research. No one sets the priorities; no one fashions the agenda. ... Thus, BASC believe that a national research environment requires a strong disciplinary planning mechanism.” Similarly, in regard to seasonal climate forecasts, the National Research Council (NRC) suggests that “while there is a growing literature and accumulating practical experience on what contributes to successful application efforts, there has been little synthesis in the field and few efforts to extract common, overarching, complementary, or collective lessons learned from these multiple activities and practical efforts in different regions.”

To achieve this, the AMS Atmospheric Policy Program recommends a comprehensive approach to atmospheric policy studies. And on a broader scale, John Marburger, the President's science advisor, recommends that we develop “a science of science policy.” Put simply, these groups are calling for science policy research.

Yet, despite these resounding calls for atmospheric science policy research, we do not have a clear definition of what it is and thus cannot systematically move toward it. This talk, therefore, examines and synthesizes current approaches to atmospheric science policy research in order to develop such a definition. It sets policy research apart from social science research, and suggests that its goal is to equip decision makers with a range of options for action. The talk will also discuss the role - and the value - of policy research in policy-making. To do so, it will explore examples of policy research in various settings in the atmospheric science community. A separate paper, Dilling et al., will provide a more in-depth case study of these ideas in action in carbon cycle science.


Session 1, Policy Research in the Earth System Sciences
Wednesday, 1 February 2006, 8:30 AM-5:30 PM, A307

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