From Global Climate Projections to Regional Planning: Matching What Science Can Supply With Decision Maker Demands

Access to high-quality and comprehensible climate information is key if policy makers are to make well-informed decisions on a range of topics. When considering 21st-century climate projections, the multistep process of transferring and translating information and knowledge from the realm of large-scale climate science to regional scale impacts, or other policy-relevant interests, poses several scientific and communication challenges. Communication hurdles exist not only between scientists and policy makers, but also between different science and engineering communities. While transferring data sets is relatively simple, reliably translating knowledge across disciplines so that strengths, limitations, and contexts are appreciated is more difficult. However, such transfers are needed if a stakeholder’s information demands are to be matched with an appropriate supply of credible climate information. The quality of climate information available to policy makers can benefit both from improvements in the upstream source (i.e., climate science advancements in general, and especially improved projections) and from improved mechanisms that support cross-disciplinary information and knowledge exchanges. Accordingly, one can envision an increased role for policy-neutral boundary organizations — multidisciplinary entities designed to enhance collaboration, understanding, and communications among and between researchers and decision makers.