Providing Climate Science to Real-World Policy Decisions

A Scientist’s View from the Trenches

Authored by: Andrea J. Ray

Water Policy and Planning

Print publication date:  June  2016
Online publication date:  June  2016

Print ISBN: 9781482227970
eBook ISBN: 9781482227987
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter presents three cases of providing climate science for water policy decisions and the tangible challenges and opportunities encountered by scientists. These challenges include (1) different time frames typical to funding and implementing research projects versus the often short time frames of policy and legal processes; (2) the implications of divergent incentive structures for academic research compared to applied science and services; (3) the need to translate, synthesize, and interpret scientific results to serve the context of the decision or policy at hand; and (4) meeting the best available science criteria for many federal policy decisions. An additional critical function of scientists working in boundary organizations is identified—the framing of relevant climate questions. Finally, the efforts to participate in coproduction of policy-relevant science have value beyond the report or synthesis product itself. The outcomes of these stakeholder engagement efforts are described, and the benefits reaped by the science organization from the resources invested beyond the usual research models. Finally, it is argued that meeting the demands for usable science for policy requires ongoing support for the participation of research scientists and institutions in service functions.

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