Study: Climate science needs to start focusing more on adaptation strategies

Science can inform response to climate-change impacts

A mile-long pipeline delivers sand to bolster a beach that’s losing ground to rising seas.

By Summit Voice

FRISCO — Climate scientists need to deliver their information in a context that  can help find practical applications to deal with global warming impacts, according to a new paper published by an international team of scientists.

That could show that the scientific capability and organizational structure to begin responding to emerging climate-related issues already exists — what’s missing is better engagement between the scientific community and the stakeholders they are seeking to inform, the researchers wrote in the Policy Forum section of the journal Science.

“Adaptation is required in virtually all sectors of the economy and regions of the globe,” they wrote. “However, without the appropriate science delivered in a decision-relevant context, it will become increasingly difficult – if not impossible – to prepare adequately.”

“What we need is more visibility to gain more inclusiveness … to bring into play the private sector, resource managers, universities and a host of decision-makers and other stakeholders,” said Philip Mote, an Oregon State University climate scientist and co-author on the paper.

Climate adaptation science involves trans-disciplinary research to understand the challenges and opportunities of climate change, and how best to respond to them, Mote explained.

“The stakeholders need to know our scientific capabilities, and we need to better understand their priorities and decision-making processes,” said Mote, who directs the Oregon Climate Change Research Institute at Oregon State.

Richard Moss, a senior scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy‘s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, said the Science article grew out of a NASA-funded workshop held in 2012 at the Aspen Global Change Institute in Colorado, which focused on how to improve support for decision-making in the face of a changing climate.

“Traditionally, we think that what society needs is better predictions,” said Moss, who was lead author on the Science article. “But at this workshop, all of us – climate and social scientists alike – recognized the need to consider how decisions get implemented and that climate is only one of many factors that will determine how people will adapt.”

OSU’s Mote said examples abound of issues that need the marriage of stakeholders and climate scientists. Changing snowmelt runoff is creating concerns for late-season urban water supplies, irrigation for agriculture, and migration of fish.

An increasing number of plant and animal species are becoming stressed by climate change, including the white bark pine and the sage grouse. Rising sea levels and more intense storms threaten the infrastructure of coastal communities, which need to examine water and sewer systems, as well as placement of hospitals, schools and nursing homes.

Mote, Moss and their colleagues outline a comprehensive approach to research in the social, physical, environmental, engineering and other sciences. Among their recommendations for improvement:

  • Understand decision processes and knowledge requirements;
  • Identify vulnerabilities to climate change;
  • Improve foresight about exposure to climate hazards and other stressors;
  • Broaden the range of adaptation options and promote learning;
  • Provide examples of adaptation science in application;
  • Develop measures to establish adaptation science.

One such measure could be the development of a national institution of climate preparedness in the United States comprised of centers for adaptation science aimed at priority sectors.


2 thoughts on “Study: Climate science needs to start focusing more on adaptation strategies

  1. If a national institution of climate preparedness in the United States is established, how can I be a part of it? There is not enough focus for preparedness and rather work on this individually, to have a center or institution that works as a group for climate adaption is something I want to be a part of.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s