Federal lands in the United States have been identified as important areas where forests could be managed to enhance carbon storage and help mitigate climate change. However, there has been little work examining the context for decision making for carbon in a multiple-use public land environment, and how science can support decision making. This case study of the San Juan National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Tres Rios Field Office in southwestern Colorado examines whether land managers in these offices have adequate tools, information, and management flexibility to practice effective carbon stewardship. Read the article in Environmental Management.
Dilling, L., K. C. Kelsey, D. P. Fernandez, Y. D. Huang, J. B. Milford, and J. C. Neff (2016). Environmental Management.
Worldwide water governance failures undermine effective water management under uncertainty and change. Overcoming these failures requires employing more adaptive, resilient water management approaches; yet, while scholars have advance theory of what adaptive, resilient approaches should be, there is little empirical evidence to support those normative propositions. To fill this gap, Kirchhoff and Dilling reviewed the literature to derive theorized characteristics of adaptive, resilient water governance including knowledge generation and use, participation, clear rules for water use, and incorporating nonstationarity. Read the paper here.
Kirchhoff, C. and L. Dilling, 2016. Water Resources Research, Published April 17.
Workshop attendees discussed how improved projections of rainfall extremes as climate changes could help officials mitigate erosion of archaeologically and culturally important locations such as this one at North Dakota’s Knife River Indian Villages National Historic Site. The river has already eroded part of this 19th century Hidatsa village—only 31 visible earth lodge depressions remain. Read the article here.
Rangwala, I., C. Dewes, and J. Barsugli (2016). EOS, Vol. 97, March 25.
Improving the public value of science: A typology to inform discussion, design and implementation of research
Elizabeth McNie published a paper entitled “Improving the public value of science: A typology to inform discussion, design and implementation of research” with Adam Parris and Dan Sarewitz. In this paper, they describe a more complete view of research activities and expectations and introduce a multi-dimensional typology of research activities. Attributes of research are idealized on a spectrum, from science-centric to user-oriented. Using the typology can inform science-policy planning and decisions.
McNie, E. C., A. Parris, and D. Sarewitz, 2016. Research Policy, Vol. 45, Issue 4.
An Evaluation of the Upper Colorado River Basin Drought Early Warning System
WWA completed an evaluation of the Upper Colorado River Basin Drought Early Warning System (UCRB DEWS), which is part of the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) and is operated out of the Colorado Climate Center at Colorado State University. The UCRB DEWS was the first of nine DEWS across the United States, and is based around regular webinars and a website that communicate drought conditions to water managers, agricultural producers, and other decision-makers. WWA’s evaluation assessed whether the UCRB DEWS is meeting NIDIS’ goals for the DEWS and improving drought preparedness in the Upper Colorado River Basin. The evaluation report describes several areas where the UCRB DEWS is succeeding and recommends steps that could be taken to improve its effectiveness. WWA’s evaluation is currently being used to inform NIDIS strategic planning across all of the DEWS.
John Berggren Receives CIRES Graduate Student Research Fellowship
John Berggren received the CIRES Graduate Student Research Award for his project "Transitioning to a New Era in Western United States Water Governance: Examining Adaptive Capacity and Equitable Water Policy in the Colorado River Basin". This project uses a multi-method case study research design to theoretically and empirically determine criteria for sustainable and equitable water policy. It focuses on the Colorado River Basin as a case study to better understand how these criteria might be identified, contextualized, and put into operation. Additionally, this research will examine how water managers can use these criteria to help incorporate new scientific information and successfully adapt existing institutions to continually changing environmental conditions.
WWA Receives CU Innovative Seed Grant
Western Water Assessment was awarded an Innovative Seed Grant from the Office of the Vice Chancellor to work with the University of Colorado Grand Challenge project, Earth Lab. Earth Lab uses new data harmonization techniques and innovative visualization tools to identify and characterize changes in key processes in the earth system. Drawing on the experience of WWA, we will partner with Earth Lab researchers to pilot research co-production processes and training to fully harness the power of Earth Lab to improve societal decision making. This partnership will bring together some of the most innovative data science with new techniques to connect science with decision makers in private and public sectors and thus create impact beyond the university.