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Research and Networks for Decision Support: In the NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program
two quite distinct implicit definitions are in use in the program. In one, it means translating the products of climate science into forms that are useful for decision makers; in the other, it centrally includes establishing communication between climate information producers and users that ensures that the information produced addresses users’ decision needs and gets to them in useful ways. Evidence from multiple fields demonstrates that potentially valuable scientific information often goes unused, largely because of inadequate prior communication between the producers and users of the information. Considering this evidence, we recommend that SARP and NOAA adopt a broad definition of “decision support” that emphasizes communication.
The first question above states a mission goal far too ambitious for any program as small as SARP ($2.6 million in fiscal 2006). That mission is too large even with the combined budgets of SARP and two related programs, Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) and Transition of Research to Applications for Climate Services (TRACS) (about $7 million in fiscal 2006). SARP must therefore focus its efforts to make the best use of the limited resources available.
With SARP’s very limited current and likely future budgets, we recommend that the program emphasize a few critical activities over the next several years. We recommend use-inspired science, workshops, and pilot programs, all directed to the basic need to make climate-related information more useful and to get it used appropriately.
We recommend that the Sectoral Applications Research Programsupport research to identify and foster the innovations neededto make information about climate variability and change moreusable in specific sectors, including research on the processes thatinfluence success or failure in the creation of knowledge-actionnetworks for making climate information useful for decision making. This should be the major focus of the Sectoral ApplicationsResearch Program support over the next 3-5 years. Support shouldgo to research that offers the largest potential benefit to decisionmaking across sectors.
We recommend that the Sectoral Applications Research Programsupport several workshops each year for the next 3 years to identify,catalyze, and assess the potential of knowledge-action networksin sectors, defined by resource areas (e.g., water, coastal resources)or decision-making domains (e.g., emergency response, insurance,