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Jessica Bolson and Kenneth Broad

Abstract

Seasonal climate forecasting skill has improved over the past decades, accompanied by expectations that these forecasts, along with other climate information, will be increasingly used by water managers in certain regions of the United States. Most research efforts focus on why adoption does not occur; however, the important question of why adoption does occur has received little attention. Barriers to the use of climate information by this sector frequently identified include risk aversion, institutional constraints, and low forecast reliability. Relatively fewer researchers have focused on the identification and analysis of cases of adoption of climate information in the water management sector. Relying upon the results from observations and semistructured interviews conducted between 2006 and 2010 in South Florida, this research identifies the characteristics that enabled the early adoption of climate information by the South Florida Water Management District, one of the largest water management organizations in the United States. The findings herein are analyzed in relation to existing theories on technology transfer and innovation diffusion. Lessons from this specific case are situated in the context of the broader U.S. water management landscape. The research finds that the existence of in-house climate expertise, innovative agency culture, social networks linking water and climate science researchers, and serendipitous policy windows were critical factors enabling adoption. Additionally, models and information, including a long-range hydrologic model and a national government–issued seasonal climate forecast were readily available and could be incorporated into preexisting and trusted decision-support tools. Implications for climate services in the U.S. water sector are discussed.

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Todd A. Crane, Carla Roncoli, Joel Paz, Norman Breuer, Kenneth Broad, Keith T. Ingram, and Gerrit Hoogenboom
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Barbara Millet, Andrew P. Carter, Kenneth Broad, Alberto Cairo, Scotney D. Evans, and Sharanya J. Majumdar

Abstract

Increasingly, the risk assessment community has recognized the social and cultural aspects of vulnerability to hurricanes and other hazards that impact planning and public communication. How individuals and communities understand and react to natural hazard risk communications can be driven by a number of different cognitive, cultural, economic, and political factors. The social sciences have seen an increased focus over the last decade on studying hurricane understanding and responses from a social, cognitive, or decision science perspective, which, broadly defined, includes a number of disparate fields. This paper is a cross-disciplinary and critical review of those efforts as they are relevant to hurricane risk communication development. We focus on two areas that, on the basis of a comprehensive literature review and discussions with experts in the field, have received comparatively little attention from the hazards community: 1) research concerning visual communications and the way in which individuals process, understand, and make decisions regarding them and 2) the way in which vulnerable communities understand and interact with hurricane warning communications. We go on to suggest areas that merit increased research and draw lessons or guidance from the broader hazards/social science research realm that has implications for hurricane planning and risk communication, particularly the development and dissemination of hurricane forecast products.

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Todd A. Crane, Carla Roncoli, Joel Paz, Norman Breuer, Kenneth Broad, Keith T. Ingram, and Gerrit Hoogenboom

Abstract

During the last 10 yr, research on seasonal climate forecasts as an agricultural risk management tool has pursued three directions: modeling potential impacts and responses, identifying opportunities and constraints, and analyzing risk communication aspects. Most of these approaches tend to frame seasonal climate forecasts as a discrete product with direct and linear effects. In contrast, the authors propose that agricultural management is a performative process, constituted by a combination of planning, experimentation, and improvisation and drawing on a mix of technical expertise, situated knowledge, cumulative experience, and intuitive skill as farmers navigate a myriad of risks in the pursuit of livelihood goals and economic opportunities. This study draws on ethnographic interviews conducted with 38 family farmers in southern Georgia, examining their livelihood goals and social values, strategies for managing risk, and interactions with weather and climate information, specifically their responses to seasonal climate forecasts. Findings highlight the social nature of information processing and risk management, indicating that both material conditions and value-based attitudes bear upon the ways farmers may integrate climate predictions into their agricultural management practices. These insights translate into specific recommendations that will enhance the salience, credibility, and legitimacy of seasonal climate forecasts among farmers and will promote the incorporation of such information into a skillful performance in the face of climate uncertainty.

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