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Tonya Haigh, Lois Wright Morton, Maria Carmen Lemos, Cody Knutson, Linda Stalker Prokopy, Yun Jia Lo, and Jim Angel

Abstract

Although agricultural production faces chronic stress associated with extreme precipitation events, high temperatures, drought, and shifts in climate conditions, adoption of climate information into agricultural decision making has been relatively limited. Agricultural advisors have been shown to play important roles as information intermediaries between scientists and farmers, brokering, translating, and adding value to agronomic and economic information of use in agricultural management decision making. Yet little is known about the readiness of different types of agricultural advisors to use weather and climate information to help their clients manage risk under increasing climate uncertainty. More than 1700 agricultural advisors in four midwestern states (Nebraska, Indiana, Iowa, and Michigan) completed a web-based survey during the spring of 2012 about their use of weather and climate information, public or private sector employment, and roles as information intermediaries in three advising specializations: agronomic, conservation, and financial. Key findings reveal that advisors who specialize in providing agronomic information are positively inclined toward acting as weather and climate information intermediaries, based on influence and willingness to use climate information in providing many types of operational and tactical advice. Advisors who provide conservation advice appear to be considering weather and climate information when providing tactical and strategic land-use advice, but advisors who provide financial advice seem less inclined to act as climate information intermediaries. These findings highlight opportunities to increase the capacity of different types of advisors to enable them to be effective weather and climate information intermediaries.

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Stephen Russell Fragaszy, Theresa Jedd, Nicole Wall, Cody Knutson, Makram Belhaj Fraj, Karim Bergaoui, Mark Svoboda, Michael Hayes, and Rachael McDonnell
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Stephen Russell Fragaszy, Theresa Jedd, Nicole Wall, Cody Knutson, Makram Belhaj Fraj, Karim Bergaoui, Mark Svoboda, Michael Hayes, and Rachael McDonnell

Abstract

When drought hits water-scarce regions, there are significant repercussions for food and water security, as well as serious issues for the stability of broader social and environmental systems. To mitigate these effects, environmental monitoring and early warning systems aimed at detecting the onset of drought conditions can facilitate timely and effective responses from government and private sector stakeholders. This study uses multistage, participatory research methods across more than 135 interviews, focus groups, and workshops to assess extant climatic, agricultural, hydrological, and drought monitoring systems; key cross-sector drought impacts; and drought monitoring needs in four countries in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region: Morocco, Tunisia, Lebanon, and Jordan. This extensive study of user needs for drought monitoring across the MENA region is informing and shaping the ongoing development of drought early warning systems, a composite drought indicator (CDI), and wider drought management systems in each country. Overarching themes of drought monitoring needs include technical definitions of drought for policy purposes; information-sharing regimes and data-sharing platforms; ground-truthing of remotely sensed and modeled data; improved data quality in observation networks; and two-way engagement with farmers, organizations, and end-users of drought monitoring products. This research establishes a basis for informing enhanced drought monitoring and management in the countries, and the broad stakeholder engagement can help foster the emergence of effective environmental monitoring coalitions.

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Kevin Collins, Jamie Hannaford, Mark Svoboda, Cody Knutson, Nicole Wall, Tonya Bernadt, Neville Crossman, Ian Overton, Mike Acreman, Sophie Bachmair, and Kerstin Stahl
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Vikram M. Mehta, Cody L. Knutson, Norman J. Rosenberg, J. Rolf Olsen, Nicole A. Wall, Tonya K. Bernadt, and Michael J. Hayes

Abstract

Many decadal climate prediction efforts have been initiated under phase 5 of the World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. There is considerable ongoing discussion about model deficiencies, initialization techniques, and data requirements, but not much attention is being given to decadal climate information (DCI) needs of stakeholders for decision support. Here, the authors report the results of exploratory activities undertaken to assess DCI needs in water resources and agriculture sectors, using the Missouri River basin as a case study. This assessment was achieved through discussions with 120 stakeholders.

Stakeholders’ awareness of decadal dry and wet spells and their societal impacts in the basin are described, and stakeholders’ DCI needs and potential barriers to their use of DCI are enumerated. The authors find that impacts, including economic impacts, of decadal climate variability (DCV) on water and agricultural production in the basin are distinctly identifiable and characterizable. Stakeholders have clear notions about their needs for DCI and have offered specific suggestions as to how these might be met. However, while stakeholders are eager to have climate information, including decadal climate outlooks (DCOs), there are many barriers to the use of such information. The first and foremost barrier is that the credibility of DCOs is yet to be established. Second, the nature of institutional rules and regulations, laws, and legal precedents that pose obstacles to the use of DCOs must be better understood and means to modify these, where possible, must be sought. For the benefit of climate scientists, these and other stakeholder needs are also articulated in this paper.

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Linda Stalker Prokopy, Tonya Haigh, Amber Saylor Mase, Jim Angel, Chad Hart, Cody Knutson, Maria Carmen Lemos, Yun-Jia Lo, Jean McGuire, Lois Wright Morton, Jennifer Perron, Dennis Todey, and Melissa Widhalm

Abstract

As the climate in the midwestern United States becomes increasingly variable because of global climate change, it is critical to provide tools to the agricultural community to ensure adaptability and profitability of agricultural cropping systems. When used by farmers and their advisors, agricultural decision support tools can reduce uncertainty and risks in the planning, operation, and management decisions of the farm enterprise. Agricultural advisors have historically played a key role in providing information and guidance in these decisions. However, little is known about what these advisors know or think about weather and climate information and their willingness to incorporate this type of information into their advice to farmers. In this exploratory study, a diverse set of professionals who advise corn growers, including government, nonprofit, for-profit, and agricultural extension personnel, were surveyed in four states in the midwestern Corn Belt. Results from the survey indicate that advisors are more influenced by current weather conditions and 1–7-day forecasts than longer-term climate outlooks. Advisors predominantly consider historical weather trends and/or forecasts in their advice to farmers on short-term operational decisions versus longer-term tactical and strategic decisions. The main conclusion from this analysis is that opportunities exist to further engage the advisor community on weather and climate issues and, through them, the farmers who are managing the land.

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