Now more than ever, decision makers in the federal government and private industry need easy-to-find, locally relevant climate-change data. Our research revealed that, while credible data are available, they can be hard to find, and they may not be tailorable to specific locations.
In partnership with NOAA, NASA, and the White House’s OSTP, we explored what people are looking for in climate-change data and how they set about finding it. We interviewed folks across the country to get a comprehensive view of how they approach the decision-making and data-gathering processes, and we hope that our research inspires continued study.
We spoke to dozens of climate-change decision makers to get the most comprehensive picture we could of data availability and customizability. Our report covers the problems we addressed, our research goals, profiles of our user groups, a summary of our methods, and an in-depth discussion of our findings. It also provides next steps — topics that would benefit from further research.
What we found
Planning for climate change
Though climate-change planning varies from person to person and by location, the process typically involves four steps: a motivating event that spurs the planner to action, weighing the pros and cons of working with a science translator, deciding whether to work alone or partner with a translator, and then taking action.
Reliance on federal resources
One topic we researched in detail was which resources folks rely on as they plan for local climate change. We found that, while municipal analysts consult federal websites during the exploratory stages of planning, they use other resources to get more geographically granular data.
Tailorability and findability
Nearly all the municipal analysts we talked to noted that they’re not inherently opposed to using federal resources; rather, they’ve found that these resources aren’t as tailorable and easy to find as they’d like.
Curation and production tools
Currently, climate-change planners lack a single connecting website that helps them find locally relevant federal tools. For greatest success, such a site should provide locally relevant data, and should focus on curating resources rather than cataloguing everything that’s available.
For more detailed information on our research approach, recruitment techniques, and interview protocol, please read our methodology supplement.
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