During its first three years of operation, the Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS) Project, funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Office of Global Programs (NOAA-OGP), has employed an array of social science methodologies and techniques for assessing the impacts of climate variability on stakeholders in the southwestern United States. Among the techniques we use are surveys, personal interviews, in-depth ethnographic research, focus groups, workshops, and content analysis of newspaper stories and other such publications. This poster summarizes the ways in which the integrated team of CLIMAS natural science and social science researchers employ these approaches to identify and address climate vulnerability, adaptation strategies, and climate information needs.
CLIMAS has been working specifically with stakeholders engaged in water management, agriculture, ranching, public health services, and wildfire management Each of these sectors is characterized by certain kinds of climate vulnerability, adaptation strategies and information needs. For example, historical climate information provided at fine scales is important to ranchers, agriculturalists, and fire managers. Working in an integrated, cross-disciplinary fashion, CLIMAS team members have responded to this articulated need by downscaling historical climate data to 1 kilometer for Arizona and New Mexico. Parallel work is underway to downscale paleo climate information as well. We are currently initiating a pilot project to deliver these data to stakeholders via the Web. Water managers, as well as many other stakeholders, have expressed a strong desire to know the "track record" of the climate forecasts and water supply outlooks currently being issued. This constitutes another major area where the CLIMAS researchers are collaborating with each other and with stakeholders to address the articulated need. A Web-based, interactive product is being developed to allow users to obtain information about the skill of various operational and experimental forecasts and outlooks over time and space. In the public health arena, CLIMAS researchers have identified links between climatic conditions and Valley Fever, which is endemic to Arizona, the California Central Valley, and parts of Mexico. A model, developed to assist Arizona public health professionals anticipate unusual outbreaks of this disease, is being introduced and evaluated this year. An important component of all these pilot product development and delivery activities is evaluation of user capacity to interpret and use the data and of how well the product performs in meeting user needs.
The poster summarizes findings such as these, and outlines how the various social science approaches used, and the results obtained, contribute to CLIMAS as an interdisciplinary, integrated assessment and to building a foundation for establishing regionally based, stakeholder-oriented climate services.