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Kevin Werner, Kristen Averyt, and Gigi Owen

Abstract

Managing water resources generally and managing reservoir operations specifically have been touted as opportunities for applying forecasts to improve decision making. Previous studies have shown that the application of forecasts into water management is not pervasive. This study uses a scenario-based approach to explore whether and how people implement forecast information into reservoir operations decisions in a workshop setting. Although it was found that participants do utilize both forecast and observed information, they generally do not utilize probabilistic forecast information in a manner to appropriately minimize risks associated with the tail end of the forecast distribution. This study found strong tendencies for participants to wait for observed information, as opposed to forecast information, before making decisions. In addition, study participants tended to make decisions based on median forecast values instead of considering forecast probability. These findings support the development of quantitative decision support systems to optimally utilize probabilistic forecasts as well as for forecast agencies such as NOAA/NWS to continue investments in work to better understand contexts and environments where forecasts are used or have the potential for use in supporting water management decisions.

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Alison M. Meadow, Daniel B. Ferguson, Zack Guido, Alexandra Horangic, Gigi Owen, and Tamara Wall

Abstract

Coproduction of knowledge is believed to be an effective way to produce usable climate science knowledge through a process of collaboration between scientists and decision makers. While the general principles of coproduction—establishing long-term relationships between scientists and stakeholders, ensuring two-way communication between both groups, and keeping the focus on the production of usable science—are well understood, the mechanisms for achieving those goals have been discussed less. It is proposed here that a more deliberate approach to building the relationships and communication channels between scientists and stakeholders will yield better outcomes. The authors present five approaches to collaborative research that can be used to structure a coproduction process that each suit different types of research or management questions, decision-making contexts, and resources and skills available to contribute to the process of engagement. By using established collaborative research approaches scientists can be more effective in learning from stakeholders, can be more confident when engaging with stakeholders because there are guideposts to follow, and can assess both the process and outcomes of collaborative projects, which will help the whole community of stakeholder-engaged climate-scientists learn about coproduction of knowledge.

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Gigi Owen, Jonathan D. McLeod, Crystal A. Kolden, Daniel B. Ferguson, and Timothy J. Brown

Abstract

Continuing progress in the fields of meteorology, climatology, and fire ecology has enabled more proactive and risk-tolerant wildland fire management practices in the United States. Recent institutional changes have also facilitated the incorporation of more advanced climate and weather research into wildland fire management. One of the most significant changes was the creation of Predictive Services in 1998, a federal interagency group composed, in part, of meteorologists who create climate- and weather-based fire outlooks tailored to fire manager needs. Despite the numerous forecast products now available to fire managers, few studies have examined how these products have affected their practices. In this paper the authors assess how fire managers in the Southwest region of the United States perceive and incorporate different types of information into their management practices. A social network analysis demonstrates that meteorologists have become central figures in disseminating information in the regional interagency fire management network. Interviews and survey data indicate that person-to-person communication during planning phases prior to the primary fire season is key to Predictive Services’ success in supporting fire managers’ decision making. Over several months leading up to the fire season, predictive forecasts based on complex climate, fuels, and fire-risk models are explained to fire managers and updated through frequent communication. The study’s findings suggest that a significant benefit of the information sharing process is the dialogue it fosters among fire managers, locally, regionally, and nationally, which better prepares them to cooperate and strategically plan for the fire season.

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