Research Interests and Current Projects

Climate Change Communication and Social Change

While actions relevant to climate change are now occurring at a variety of scales in the public and private sectors, evidence shows that traditional means of communicating climate science continue to be largely ineffective at reaching the broader public and stimulating behavioral/personal, organization/institutional change in the United States. What can we learn from practitioners and experts in a variety of fields about more effective communication strategies in order to facilitate and support societal response to this global problem?

I convened and lead (with Lisa Dilling, University of Colorado) an interdisciplinary workshop in June 2004 on this complex topic (for more information click here). The workshop has since resulted in an article for Environment, and an edited volume just published by Cambridge University Press.

The project was funded by the MacArthur Foundation; NCAR's Environmental and Societal Impacts Group (now ISSE) and Walter Orr Roberts Institute; and the National Science Foundation.

For more information about the project, click here.

Science–Policy Interactions

Building on my previous research on science—policy interactions in the Global Environmental Assessment Project at Harvard, and on my research regarding the assessment and management of uncertainties in the human dimensions of global change, I continue to work on the question how science can best serve society (stakeholders, policy- and decision-makers at various levels of government).

Contributing to NCAR's Weather and Climate Impacts Assessment Science Program, I recently developed a stepwise procedure to determine where and when scientific information (and information about the uncertainty associated with that science) is needed in the decision-making process. DUST – the Decision Uncertainty Screening Tool – is meant to serve as a heuristic that can help scientists and decision-makers communicate and interact more effectively.

In a second project, I was recently invited by the National Research Council to participate in the NRC project Public Participation in Environmental Assessment and Decision Making. My contribution is a post-hoc evaluation of the stakeholder participation in the First U.S. National Assessment of the Potential Consequences of Climate Variability and Change (1997-2001).

Coastal Impacts of Climate Change and Adaptation Strategies

How will communities, states, and nations respond to the growing threat from sea-level rise and associated coastal hazards? How can science best inform choices among adaptation strategies? Common response options include shoreline engineering (beach nourishment or hardening of the shoreline), changes in design, planning, and development along the coast, and retreating from the encroaching sea.

I recently conducted an assessment of California coastal managers' current state of preparedness and planning for adaptation strategies to deal with the impacts from climate change and sea-level rise.

For further information click here.

Key Collaborators in California : Amy Luers (UCS-Berkeley), John Tribbia (University of Colorado-Boulder), Michael Hanemann (UC-Berkeley), and Dan Cayan and Peter Bromirski (Scripps).

I am also involved in a broader assessment of adaptation options for resource managers in various sectors in the U.S. Northeast. There I am particularly interested in the social processes underlying adaptation, the barriers managers encounter, and the differential vulnerability of different places, communities, and economic sectors.

Key collaborators: Roger Kasperson (Clark University), Gary Yohe (Wesleyan University), Julian Agyeman (Tufts University).

For further information click here.

NCAR-RISA Collaboration

I am working with ISSE Director Linda Mearns to build collaborative ties with NOAA's Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) Program. One of the projects I am involved in is an evaluation of the RISA experience, with special emphasis on the science-practice interaction; Pilot projects with the Hawai'i/Pacific Island and Alaska RISA centers have been initiated. For more information, click here.

Other recent research projects have focused on:

  • The impacts of extreme heat on human health (in California )
  • Community response to coastal erosion (various U.S. locations)
  • Cross-scale interaction between science and policy-makers in dealing with sea-level rise ( Maine and Hawai'i )