The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program was created in 1995 to pioneer innovative mechanisms for enhancing the value of climate information and products for understanding and responding to a variety of challenges associated with climate variability and change at the regional scale. Currently, there are ten region-specific RISA teams (see box) working in sustained partnerships with local decision-makers.
At the core of the RISA philosophy is the observation that climate variability and change are global phenomena, but impacts primarily manifest at regional scales in issues related to changing hydrologic cycles, increasing vulnerability to natural hazards, agricultural disruptions, environmental disturbances, and sea level rise. Often, these climate challenges combine with and exacerbate other stressors, such as population growth, energy development, and transitions in local economies, culture, and social relationships. The types of products and management efforts undertaken by the RISAs vary widely, but share the common feature of emerging from real-world challenges faced by stakeholders.
The “RISA model” of climate services that has emerged relies heavily on participatory approaches featuring two-way dialogues between researchers and user groups, uses iterative and sustained relationships to build mutual understanding and trust, and is implemented through collaborative, multi-disciplinary and multi-partner teams delineated by decision-relevant contexts shaped by geography, sector, and timing. Additionally, the approach is evolutionary and opportunistic, adapting to the influx of new constituencies—many of which are actively “cultivated” by the RISA teams—new advances in science and technology, an improved understanding of decision contexts, and responsive to the opportunities associated with climate events (e.g., droughts) and emerging policy initiatives.
Lessons from the RISA Experience
The RISA experience provides valuable “lessons learned” that have direct relevance to regional and national climate services:
– Building trust requires a sustained effort.
– Integrated and interdisciplinary climate information and research is required.
– Information must be contextual and relevant.
– Proactive engagement is required.
– A dynamic and flexible organization is required.
RISA Regions and Research
|RISA||States/Areas Covered||URL||Current Areas of Research|
|Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP)||Alaska and the U.S. Arctic||http://www.uaf.edu/accap/||Water resource management, transportation|
|California-Nevada Applications Program (CNAP)||California and Nevada||http://meteora.ucsd.edu/cap/||Water resource management, forest fires, snowpack, human health|
|Carolinas Integrated Sciences and Assessments (CISA)||North and South Carolina||http://www.cisa.sc.edu/||Water resource management, forestry, coastal impacts|
|Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS)||Arizona, New Mexico||http://www.climas.arizona.edu/||Water resource management, forestry, forest fires, snowpack, human health, agriculture|
|Climate Decision Support Consortium (CDSC)||Washington, Oregon, Idaho||http://pnwclimate.org/||Water resource management, forestry, snowpack, fish, coastal impacts|
|Consortium on Climate Risk in the Urban NE (CCRUN)||http://ccrun.org/|
|Great Lakes Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA)||Michigan, Ohio and Ontario (Great Lakes Basin)||http://www.graham.umich.edu/centers/glisa.php||Agriculture, watershed management, and natural resources-based recreation and tourism|
|Pacific RISA||Hawaii, Marshall Islands, Northern Mariana Islands, Guam, Federated States of Micronesia, Palau, American Samoa||https://www.pacificrisa.org||Water resources management, coastal impacts, disaster risk management|
|The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)||Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Arkansas, Tennessee, and Mississippi||http://www.southernclimate.org||Hazard & Risk Management|
|Western Water Assessment (WWA)||Colorado, Utah, Wyoming||http://wwa.colorado.edu||Water resource management, agriculture, snowpack|