This paper was excerpted by the WaPo here.
But a new study projects that in about 35 to 60 years, mountainous states may be nearly snowless for years at a time if greenhouse gas emissions continue unchecked and climate change does not slow. The resulting lack of water would be “potentially catastrophic,” according to the study’s authors.
It’s a really interesting paper with lots of great graphics and explanations of sources of uncertainty. For RCP watchers, it’s a review paper and there is some 8.5 and some 4.5 in the studies used, with a chart in the supplemental information page.
My favorite part was about planning, though. The numbers are citations.
Thus, at the same time that science evolves to increase predictive understanding of the mechanisms of hydroclimatic change, management practice must evolve to accommodate uncertainty regarding the changing patterns of current and future hydrologic variability. Developing a robust strategy and selecting investment options that balance competing societal objectives and multisectoral interactions (such as the interaction among water and energy 186 or water and carbon 207 reduction goals) requires new approaches to integrate water resource planning. Frameworks and planning methods for decision- making under deep uncertainty that acknowledge and accommodate imperfect knowledge regarding the probabilistic range of possible future conditions such as decision scaling 241, robust decision- making, dynamic adaptation pathways 242 and scenario planning can identify scientifically informed adaptive strategies that leverage best available science without overstating its confidence 243.
For instance, the United States Bureau of Reclamation and water management agencies within the Colorado River Basin engaged in a robust decision- making study that identified a range of potential future climate conditions under which water delivery obligations would be vulnerable. Portfolios of adaptation strategies aimed at demand reduction (including agricultural, municipal and industrial conservation) and supply augmentation (including reuse, desalination and water import) were evaluated for their ability to alleviate these vulnerabilities and for their trade- offs in cost, yield, technical feasibility, legal risk and other criteria. The portfolios generally increase system robustness but have a wide range of implementation costs, especially under the declining supply conditions, and vary between the Upper Basin and the Lower Basin 244. Making science usable for decision- making requires strong trust between the parties 245. This trust often develops over deliberate, long- term collaboration 246, with mutual understanding of the science, models and tools being discussed and demonstration of the credibility, saliency and legitimacy of the new approach(es) 247. Institutional, technical and financial capacity to implement these approaches must also be overcome 233. Scientists must also recognize that practitioners are often directly responsible, sometimes even personally liable, for the outcomes of decisions made, which makes them hesitant in the application of new climate science 236, especially if perceived as not fitting with existing knowledge or policy goals 233,248.A path forward can be made by including Earth scientists, infrastructure experts, decision scientists, water management practitioners and community stakeholders, in a collaborative, iterative process of scientific knowledge creation through a co- production framework 41,42,249,250. This process helps to ensure that new science is suited to challenges at hand and can provide meaningful input into decision- making processes.
I picked out some interesting-looking citations below:
Arnott, J. C., Mach, K. J. & Wong- Parodi, G. Editorial overview: The science of actionable knowledge. Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 42, A1–A5 (2020).246.
Meadow, A. M. etal. Moving toward the deliberate coproduction of climate science knowledge. Weather Clim. Soc. 7, 179–191 (2015).247.
Cash, D. W. etal. Knowledge systems for sustainable development. Proc. Natl Acad. Sci. USA 100, 8086–8091 (2003).248.
Dilling, L. & Lemos, M. C. Creating usable science: opportunities and constraints for climate knowledge use and their implications for science policy. Glob. Environ. Change 21, 680–689 (2011).249. Lemos, M. C. etal. To co- produce or not to co- produce. Nat. Sustain. 1, 722–724 (2018).250.
Cash, D. etal. Salience, credibility, legitimacy and boundaries: linking research, assessment and decision making. SSRN https://doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.372280 (2002).251. Cash, D. W., Borck, J. C. & Patt, A. G. Countering the loading- dock approach to linking science and decision making: comparative analysis of El Niño/Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasting systems. Sci. Technol. Hum. Values 31, 465–494 (2006).252.
Goodrich, K. A. etal. Who are boundary spanners and how can we support them in making knowledge more actionable in sustainability fields? Curr. Opin. Environ. Sustain. 42, 45–51 (2020).
4 thoughts on “Snowless Western Mountains and Co-Design and Co-Production of Useful Scientific Knowledge”
While I appreciate the optimism presented by this paper (and others like it), the slow evolution of this type of collaborative deliberation is frustrating to watch. I unfortunately am not seeing this develop as rapidly as it needs to occur to avert real harm. It doesn’t mean we all shouldn’t try, but the path will be bumpy and may not provide what we need right now.
I think there are two ideas going on… “avert real harm” is a mitigation question. What to do is an adaptation question. I think they are saying for adaptation they need info useful to the folks who are doing the adapting.
I thought you were going to go somewhere else with this when you highlighted “planning.” That would have been, “Frameworks and planning methods for decision- making under deep uncertainty that acknowledge and accommodate imperfect knowledge regarding the probabilistic range of possible future conditions such as decision scaling 241, robust decision- making, dynamic adaptation pathways 242 and scenario planning can identify scientifically informed adaptive strategies that leverage best available science without overstating its confidence 243.” This would be my response every time you imply that, since we don’t “know” what is going to happen, we shouldn’t try to plan. I think these are also possible within the NFMA forest planning framework, but the Forest Service doesn’t seem very interested in doing that.
Yes, that was what I was getting at. But I don’t see how that would fit with the analyses in the 2012 Rule. Maybe that’s a lack of imagination and you can.
As to scenario planning, the FS is using it at several scales in designing and prioritizing fuel treatments.. will follow up with other posts.