About the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program
Expanding Capacity to Adapt to Change
NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) program supports research teams that help expand and build the nation's capacity to prepare for and adapt to climate variability and change. Central to the RISA approach are commitments to process, partnership, and trust building. RISA teams work with public and private user communities to:
● advance understanding of policy, planning and management contexts;
● develop knowledge on impacts, vulnerabilities, and response options through interdisciplinary research and participatory processes;
● innovate products and tools to enhance the use of science in decision making; and
● test diverse governance structures for managing scientific research.
Understanding Policy, Planning and Management Contexts
Climate information can inform decisions to adapt to a changing environment, but only if the climate research community and decision makers work together to understand each other’s needs and limitations. RISA teams are effective because they have been able to create lasting relationships with decision makers from the public and private sectors including local, regional, and state governments, federal agencies, tribal governments, utilities, the business community, and national and international non-profit organizations. Through these relationships, RISAs learn about specific decision contexts within and across different sectors of society, advancing our overall understanding of the use of science.
RISA teams use their understanding of different decision contexts to develop knowledge tailored to suit specific needs for climate information across different timescales and, more broadly, for context-specific scientific knowledge. RISAs characterize climate extremes, variability and change using paleoclimatic records, instrumental data, and climate predictions and projections. RISAs integrate climate science with interdisciplinary knowledge to assess impacts, vulnerability, and risks and to inform and evaluate adaptive response options and trade-offs. RISA’s interdisciplinary knowledge base helps understand the interaction between climatic and non-climatic stressors.
Supporting Knowledge to Action Networks
RISAs advance of a variety of approaches for applying knowledge to action including scenario planning, participatory assessment, and experimental service development. Many of these approaches support the translation of science into actionable knowledge and increase capacity for making decisions in a rapidly changing environment. As societal awareness of climate risk grows, climate information is being infused into public spheres in richer ways placing more emphasis on innovation of different methods for providing actionable knowledge. The experimental and innovative nature of RISAs extends beyond “snapshot” assessments or tools or products alone. The dialogue between scientists and stakeholders also provides the perfect setting for social scientists and outreach experts to evaluate how well science is informing societal outcomes.
Innovating and Developing Services
RISA teams strengthen the development of climate services in the public and private sectors by bridging science and service communities. RISAs innovate and enhance capabilities that can be incorporated into successful tools and practices into ongoing services. RISAs work closely with applied scientists who provide predictions and projections of weather and climate, with cooperative extension and outreach professionals, and communications experts. These experimental services include, but are not limited to:
■ Climate impacts training;
■ Climate outlooks and outlook fora;
■ Climate extension;
■ Communication tools (visualization, white papers, report, etc.); and
■ Decision support tools and information systems for drought, climate, water supply and availability, agriculture and other impacts.
Advancing Science Policy
RISA teams maintain diverse structures for program leadership and management. This diversity is critical for maintaining healthy relationships between multiple institutions, leveraging scientific capabilities within regions, and learning new ways to develop science in support of society. RISA teams have demonstrated the importance of flexible governance structures for responding to factors that motivate interactions between scientists and decision makers including, among others, natural disasters, institutional change, climate literacy, and breakthroughs in science.