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Addressing the “Practitioners’ Dilemma”: Climate Information Evaluation for Practical Applications in the Water Sector

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Session Description: 

Users of climate information are often faced with the difficult task of understanding which data, potentially drawn from a wide range of available models and methodologies, are appropriate for their particular applications, a problem that has been coined “The Practitioner’s Dilemma.” Climate features that are of greatest interest to decision makers (such as changes in atmospheric conditions, hydrology, and ecosystems), are often highly local and unique. Yet, the principal tools developed by the science community for understanding climate change were not designed with these information needs in mind.

There has been a proliferation of methods and tools for translating global climate model information from coarser- to finer-scale resolution to inform decision making. But practitioners still face the challenges of determining which method is most fit to address a particular issue and understanding the range of possible climate outcomes using uncertainty information that is compatible with a given decision-making approach.

Calls to address this challenge are not new but are becoming increasingly more urgent and necessary as practitioners are seeing climate impacts and taking action. To make sustained progress in addressing this challenge, we are looking to engage practitioners and scientists in an ongoing effort to more collectively understand the scientific and institutional issues involved in evaluating the ability of climate information to provide actionable knowledge for specific decision applications.

This virtual workshop will provide perspective to date on this effort, share challenges and potential solutions for more effectively using climate science in decision making and discuss how efforts to continually connect ongoing research and ever-adapting applications can be sustained.

Participants will share approaches and lessons in different aspects of this work including co-production/actionable knowledge production; climate science evaluation methods; decision support and applications. We also aim to build support for a larger effort to address the "practitioners' dilemma" through a commitment to cross-institutional collaboration. We think a sustained engagement process is needed to make progress and ensure we learn from ongoing work and innovate, facilitate collaboration among climate experts and practitioners, and develop cross-cutting scalable solutions and insights.

This set of workshops is the first step in a project co-convened with the Science for Climate Action Network (SCAN) intended to take stock of ongoing efforts to produce decision-relevant climate information, evaluate fitness, and characterize uncertainty that facilitate implementation of adaptation and mitigation measures. The project will consider climate information for other domains such as land management, renewable energy, urban/regional planning, and energy infrastructure. It seeks to promote collaborative learning and a more systematic approach to assessment of climate science for applications.