Renee Mcpherson (United States of America) 1; Emma Kuster (United States of America) 2; Mike Langston (United States of America) 3; Atherton Phleger (United States of America) 2; Derek Rosendahl (United States of America) 2; April Taylor (United States of America) 4
1 - University of Oklahoma; 2 - South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center; 3 - U.S. Geological Survey; 4 - The Chickasaw Nation
Through the U.S. Geological Survey, the United States (U.S.) Department of the Interior funds eight regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers (formerly Climate Science Centers) across the U.S., its territories, and U.S.-affiliated Pacific Islands. These regional Climate Adaptation Science Centers focus on helping natural and cultural resource managers adapt to climate variability, change, and extremes. These decision makers typically are from other U.S. Department of the Interior agencies (e.g., National Park Service, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Bureau of Indian Affairs), state fish and wildlife agencies, and federally recognized tribes (i.e., Native American tribes that are legally recognized by the United States as sovereign nations).
The Climate Adaptation Science Centers employ science managers, researchers, communications specialists, and university students to listen to stakeholder science needs, team with a subset of stakeholders to conduct research to address these needs, and translate the research results and other technical knowledge to decision makers in a manner that supports local action (i.e., ‘actionable science’). Each center develops its own process to engage the decision makers in their region. In the south-central United States, decision makers have only recently started to consider climate in their planning activities. In fact, many natural and cultural resource managers have only a cursory understanding of how climate variability, change, and extremes affect their jurisdiction. Similarly, researchers in the south-central U.S. tend to have minimal experience, if any, working directly with stakeholders, thus minimizing how their scientific research can positively affect society.
This presentation will highlight examples of how the South Central Climate Adaptation Science Center facilitates activities to develop researcher-stakeholder relationships. This relationship-building process has the goal of preparing both workforces (practitioners and researchers) to co-produce research that leads to actionable science and more robust climate adaptation. Examples will include the Center’s tribal engagement strategy, its early-career researcher training, technical working groups, and student internships. Many of these examples can be adapted to other geographies and types of decision makers.