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Fredric Lipschultz
,
David D. Herring
,
Andrea J. Ray
,
Jay R. Alder
,
LuAnn Dahlman
,
Arthur T. DeGaetano
,
James F. Fox
,
Edward P. Gardiner
,
Jamie Herring
,
Jeff Hicks
,
Forrest Melton
,
Philip E. Morefield
, and
William V. Sweet

Abstract

The goal of the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit’s (CRT) Climate Explorer (CE) is to provide information at appropriate spatial and temporal scales to help practitioners gain insights into the risks posed by climate change. Ultimately, these insights can lead to groups of local stakeholders taking action to build their resilience to a changing climate. Using CE, decision-makers can visualize decade-by-decade changes in climate conditions in their county and the magnitude of changes projected for the end of this century under two plausible emissions pathways. They can also check how projected changes relate to user-defined thresholds that represent points at which valued assets may become stressed, damaged, or destroyed. By providing easy access to authoritative information in an elegant interface, the Climate Explorer can help communities recognize—and prepare to avoid or respond to—emerging climate hazards. Another important step in the evolution of CE builds on the purposeful alignment of the CRT with the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s (USGCRP) National Climate Assessment (NCA). By closely linking these two authoritative resources, we envision that users can easily transition from static maps and graphs within NCA reports to dynamic, interactive versions of the same data within CE and other resources within the CRT, which they can explore at higher spatial scales or customize for their own purposes. The provision of consistent climate data and information—a result of collaboration among USGCRP’s federal agencies—will assist decision-making by other governmental entities, nongovernmental organizations, businesses, and individuals.

Free access
Graeme Stephens
,
Anthony Freeman
,
Erik Richard
,
Peter Pilewskie
,
Philip Larkin
,
Clara Chew
,
Simone Tanelli
,
Shannon Brown
,
Derek Posselt
, and
Eva Peral

Abstract

A technology revolution in Earth observation sensor design is occurring. This revolution in part is associated with the emergence of CubeSat platforms that have forced a de facto standardization on the volume and power into which sensors have to fit. The extent that small sensors can indeed provide similar or replacement capabilities compared to larger and more expensive counterparts has barely been demonstrated and any loss of capability of smaller systems weighed against the gains in costs and new potential capabilities offered by implementing them with a more distributed observing strategy also has not yet been embraced. This paper provides four examples of observations made with prototype miniaturized observing systems, including from CubeSats, that offer a glimpse of this emerging sensor revolution and a hint at future observing system design.

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Louis-Philippe Caron
,
François Massonnet
,
Philip J. Klotzbach
,
Tom J. Philp
, and
Julienne Stroeve
Free access
Natalie A. Umphlett
,
Warren Pettee
,
William Sorensen
, and
Crystal J. Stiles

Abstract

Since 2003, the High Plains Regional Climate Center (HPRCC) has been producing the Applied Climate Information System (ACIS) Climate Summary Maps for users all across the country. The maps allow users to quickly and easily assess climate conditions for various time scales that range from weeks to months to years, as well as spatial scales varying from state to regional and national levels. Although popular among the climate and drought monitoring community, the maps are utilized by a number of sectors, including academia, agriculture, government, resource management, and utilities. Over the years, the HPRCC has received a number of requests from users looking to customize and enhance the ACIS Climate Summary Maps. With funding provided by the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), the Center is now able to produce and distribute GIS versions of the ACIS Climate Summary Maps. Maps in GIS formats help to meet user needs by allowing them the opportunity to create custom color scales, choose specific regions, and combine information from various sources with the data available in the mapped products. The GIS data are available via a GIS Portal and GeoServer, which are accessible from the HPRCC website.

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Christine J. Kirchhoff
,
Joseph J. Barsugli
,
Gillian L. Galford
,
Ambarish V. Karmalkar
,
Kelly Lombardo
,
Scott R. Stephenson
,
Mathew Barlow
,
Anji Seth
,
Guiling Wang
, and
Austin Frank

Abstract

Global and national climate assessments are comprehensive, authoritative sources of information about observed and projected climate changes and their impacts on society. These assessments follow well-known, accepted procedures to create credible, legitimate, salient sources of information for policy- and decision-making, build capacity for action, and educate the public. While there is a great deal of research on assessments at global and national scales, there is little research or guidance for assessment at the U.S. state scale. To address the need for guidance for state climate assessments (SCAs), the authors combined insights from the literature, firsthand experience with four SCAs, and interviews with individuals involved in 10 other SCAs to identify challenges, draw lessons, and point out future research needs to guide SCAs. SCAs are challenged by sparseness of literature and data, insufficient support for ongoing assessment, short time lines, limited funding, and surprisingly, little deliberate effort to address legitimacy as a concern. Lessons learned suggest SCAs should consider credibility, legitimacy, and salience as core criteria; happen at regular intervals; identify assessment scope, resource allocation, and trade-offs between generation of new knowledge, engagement, and communication up front; and leverage boundary organizations. Future research should build on ongoing efforts to advance assessments, examine the effectiveness of different SCA approaches, and seek to inform both broad and specific guidance for SCAs.

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T. J. Immel
and
R. W. Eastes
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Jase Bernhardt
,
Jackson Snellings
,
Alexander Smiros
,
Ivan Bermejo
,
Angela Rienzo
, and
Carys Swan

Abstract

Landfalling hurricanes in the United States can inflict extreme damage and loss of life. The latter, particularly, can be caused by a host of socioeconomic factors, including insufficient understanding of risk by individuals expected to be impacted by the storm. Thus, we test the use of an emerging technology, virtual reality (VR), to enhance the communication of real-time risk from a hurricane forecast to make landfall. In this pilot study, individuals are presented with a hypothetical scenario where a major hurricane is forecast to impact their community within 48–72 h. The survey includes two different types of warning products related to the hypothetical hurricane: static text and maps emulating those traditionally used by media outlets and local officials to communicate risk, and a VR video simulating a hurricane landfall in a residential neighborhood. We survey two groups of equal size (each n = 62), one viewing both the VR simulation and traditional products, and the other only the latter. Each group was then asked a series of Likert-scale and open-ended questions to assess the effectiveness of both products. We determine that participants viewing both the VR and traditional products are significantly more likely to take action in preparation for the hypothetical landfall than those being exposed to just the traditional products. These results demonstrate that VR can be a useful component of hurricane warning products, and further work can be done to improve the effectiveness of such products and assess how broader segments of the population can access this information.

Free access
Rowan T. Sutton

Abstract

For decision-makers, climate change is a problem in risk assessment and risk management. It is, therefore, surprising that the needs and lessons of risk assessment have not featured more centrally in the consideration of priorities for physical climate science research, or in the Working Group I contributions to the major assessment reports of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. This article considers the reasons, which include a widespread view that the job of physical climate science is to provide predictions and projections—with a focus on likelihood rather than risk—and that risk assessment is a job for others. This view, it is argued, is incorrect. There is an urgent need for physical climate science to take the needs of risk assessment much more seriously. The challenge of meeting this need has important implications for priorities in climate research, climate modeling, and climate assessments.

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Janel Hanrahan
and
Jason Shafer

Abstract

Mitigation of human-caused climate change is essential to lessen the extent of future negative impacts, but many people are not aware of the urgency of the situation. For meaningful climate change action to be realized, accurate information must be conveyed by experts to nonexperts. Improved climate change literacy may thus be achieved in two ways. First, we must increase the number of scientists who are knowledgeable about climate change, and second, we must encourage these experts to engage with nonexperts and provide them with adequate resources to do so. Such efforts are currently being implemented in the undergraduate Atmospheric Sciences/Meteorology program (ATM) at Northern Vermont University–Lyndon. To increase knowledge, all ATM students regardless of career pathway are required to take courses that cover the science of human-caused climate change. They are then encouraged to communicate this knowledge to the public. Students are creating informational content for a department-run website and are regularly given opportunities to engage with the public at local schools and events. The results of these curricular and extracurricular changes are promising. Student interest in the topic of climate change has increased and they have demonstrated a heighted sense of responsibility to engage with the public about this challenging topic.

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