Informing Decisions in a Changing Climate

From the National Academies Press, this expansive report examines the growing need for organized efforts to produce, disseminate, and facilitate the use of data and information in order to improve climate-related decisions. Drawing on evidence from past efforts to organize science for improved decision making, the report develops guidance for government agencies at all levels, as well as private organizations, that will have to cope with the world's changing climate.

Given continuing increases in the demand for climate change “decision support,” the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration asked the National Academies to undertake this study, to provide a framework and a set of strategies and methods for organizing and evaluating decision support activities related to climate change. The summary presents nine strategic recommendations that primarily focus on the institutional and process, or operational, approaches by the federal government, with some specifically directed at federal agencies, to meet future demand for information and services pertaining to climate change from state and local governments, private industry, educational institutions, and non-profit entities.

Chapter 1 presents the need for climate-related decision support and defines four roles for federal agencies. Chapters 2, 3 and 4 suggest ways to perform those roles. Specifically, Chapter 2 explains what is meant by climate-related decisions and by decision support; and then defines six key principles that characterize effective decision support systems and the benefits of following them. Chapter 3 addresses the challenges of learning in the context of climate-related decision support, presents four modes of learning and explain the one that is most appropriate for meeting the challenges of response to climate change. The chapter also recommend ways that the federal government can apply this mode of learning in its own decision support activities. Chapter 4 chapter focuses on information needs for decision support, seen from the perspectives of decision makers. It emphasizes the need for research for decision support—that is, research that provides various types of decision-relevant information not currently provided by U.S. climate science programs—and basic and applied research on decision support. Chapter 5 details a recommendation for a National Initiative, an integrated, interagency model to best enable the other recommendations. Appendix A provides a case study of he New York metropolitan region.


Publication Date: 2009

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