• Building a Framework for Process-Oriented Evaluation of Regional Climate Outlook Forums

      Gerlak, Andrea K.; Guido, Zack; Vaughan, Catherine; Rountree, Valerie; Greene, Christina; Liverman, Diana; Trotman, Adrian R.; Mahon, Roché; Cox, Shelly-Ann; Mason, Simon J.; et al. (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2018-04)
      In many regions around the world, Regional Climate Outlook Forums (RCOFs) provide seasonal climate information and forecasts to decision-makers at regional and national levels. Despite having two decades of experience, the forums have not been systematically monitored or evaluated. To address this gap, and to better inform nascent and widespread efforts in climate services, the authors propose a process-oriented evaluation framework derived from literature on decision support and climate communication around the production and use of scientific information. The authors apply this framework to a case study of the Caribbean RCOF (CariCOF), where they have been engaged in a collaborative effort to integrate climate information and decision processes to enhance regional climate resilience. The authors' examination of the CariCOF shows an evolution toward the use of more advanced and more diverse climate products, as well as greater awareness of user feedback. It also reveals shortfalls of the CariCOF, including a lack of diverse stakeholder participation, a need for better understanding of best practices to tailor information, undeveloped market research of climate products, insufficient experimentation and vetting of communication mechanisms, and the absence of a way to steward a diverse network of regional actors. The authors' analysis also provides insight that allowed for improvements in the climate services framework to include mechanisms to respond to changing needs and conditions. The authors' process-oriented framework can serve as a starting point for evaluating RCOFs and other organizations charged with the provision of climate services.
    • Cognitive Biases about Climate Variability in Smallholder Farming Systems in Zambia

      Waldman, Kurt B.; Vergopolan, Noemi; Attari, Shahzeen Z.; Sheffield, Justin; Estes, Lyndon D.; Caylor, Kelly K.; Evans, Tom P.; Univ Arizona, Sch Geog & Dev (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2019-04)
      Given the varying manifestations of climate change over time and the influence of climate perceptions on adaptation, it is important to understand whether farmer perceptions match patterns of environmental change from observational data. We use a combination of social and environmental data to understand farmer perceptions related to rainy season onset. Household surveys were conducted with 1171 farmers across Zambia at the end of the 2015/16 growing season eliciting their perceptions of historic changes in rainy season onset and their heuristics about when rain onset occurs. We compare farmers' perceptions with satellite-gauge-derived rainfall data from the Climate Hazards Group Infrared Precipitation with Station dataset and hyper-resolution soil moisture estimates from the HydroBlocks land surface model. We find evidence of a cognitive bias, where farmers perceive the rains to be arriving later, although the physical data do not wholly support this. We also find that farmers' heuristics about rainy season onset influence maize planting dates, a key determinant of maize yield and food security in sub-Saharan Africa. Our findings suggest that policy makers should focus more on current climate variability than future climate change.
    • Evaluating Knowledge to Support Climate Action: A Framework for Sustained Assessment. Report of an Independent Advisory Committee on Applied Climate Assessment

      Moss, R. H.; Avery, S.; Baja, K.; Burkett, M.; Chischilly, A. M.; Dell, J.; Fleming, P. A.; Geil, K.; Jacobs, K.; Jones, A.; et al. (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2019-07)
      As states, cities, tribes, and private interests cope with climate damages and seek to increase preparedness and resilience, they will need to navigate myriad choices and options available to them. Making these choices in ways that identify pathways for climate action that support their development objectives will require constructive public dialogue, community participation, and flexible and ongoing access to science- and experience-based knowledge. In 2016, a Federal Advisory Committee (FAC) was convened to recommend how to conduct a sustained National Climate Assessment (NCA) to increase the relevance and usability of assessments for informing action. The FAC was disbanded in 2017, but members and additional experts reconvened to complete the report that is presented here. A key recommendation is establishing a new nonfederal "climate assessment consortium" to increase the role of state/local/tribal government and civil society in assessments. The expanded process would 1) focus on applied problems faced by practitioners, 2) organize sustained partnerships for collaborative learning across similar projects and case studies to identify effective tested practices, and 3) assess and improve knowledge-based methods for project implementation. Specific recommendations include evaluating climate models and data using user-defined metrics; improving benefit-cost assessment and supporting decision-making under uncertainty; and accelerating application of tools and methods such as citizen science, artificial intelligence, indicators, and geospatial analysis. The recommendations are the result of broad consultation and present an ambitious agenda for federal agencies, state/local/tribal jurisdictions, universities and the research sector, professional associations, nongovernmental and community-based organizations, and private-sector firms.
    • Implications of Regulatory Drought for farmer Use of Climate Information in the Klamath Basin

      VanderMolen, Kristin; Horangic, Alexandra; Univ Arizona, Inst Environm (AMER METEOROLOGICAL SOC, 2018-04)
      Despite the risk of climate variability to agriculture, farmer use of climate information in agricultural decision-making generally remains low. Research has suggested that where farmers already have robust "repertoires'' of decision-making resources adapted to some degree of climate variability, such new information may simply factor less saliently. This study asks whether farmer use of climate information increases under the occurrence of more extreme climatic events for which those repertoires lack referent-in this case, severe hydrological and related regulatory drought in the Klamath basin. Semistructured interviews with key informants of Klamath basin agriculture indicate a marked increase in farmer use of climate and climate-related information since the onset of drought in 2001. What information farmers utilize, however, depends on whether it retains its predictive and explanatory value under both types of drought. Findings highlight the need for consideration of coproduction approaches to the development of climate information if it is to serve farmers where the extremity of climate events produces changes not only in availability of but also in access to key agricultural resources.