Decision makers in those sectors should therefore be among the major beneficiaries of accurate and timely climate information and predictions.
As stated in the November 2006 program proposal (Vaughan and Beller-Simms, 2006:1), NOAA established SARP in 2005 to provide a focused pathway to generate new research-based insights and applications for climate information in support of decision making in high-priority, climate-sensitive socioeconomic sectors. Research supported by SARP’s three predecessor programs—Climate Variability and Human Health; Environment, Science, and Development (initially, the Research Applications Program); and Human Dimensions of Global Change Research—as well as other ongoing NOAA-sponsored efforts, such as the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) and the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) Program, has demonstrated the significant impacts and potential value of climate information. Climate information may be useful “in a number of diverse sectors, regions, and streams of economic activities, including those associated with human health, water resources, agriculture, disaster mitigation and management, and coastal and marine resource management, among others.”
As the program proposal also notes, “NOAA’s first decade of focused applications research provides insight into the role of climate and climate information in societal decision making; in addition, this experience also offers valuable lessons regarding effective programmatic approaches for building bridges” between climate-related science and decision making. This process of making science decision relevant (see, e.g., National Research Council, 1996b, 1999) has been variously described by scholars in terms of developing knowledge-action systems or networks (e.g., Cash et al., 2003), crossing boundaries between science and policy (e.g., Jasanoff, 1987; Gieryn, 1995), coproduction of science and policy (e.g., Lemos and Morehouse, 2005), and reconciling the supply of climate science with the demand for it (McNie, 2007; Sarewitz and Pielke, 2007). As noted in these sources and discussed in more detail below, decision-relevant climate information comes from both the natural sciences and the social sciences, and “building bridges” is best accomplished through processes that engage both the producers and consumers of information.
A review of social science in NOAA completed in 2003 noted the importance for NOAA’s mission of an adequate investment in social science, as well as the absence of such investment (Anderson et al., 2003). The review noted the absence within NOAA of widespread understanding of what social science is and can contribute. It also noted the need for collecting and archiving mission-relevant social science data, investing in social science staffing (including at senior levels of administration), and incorporating social science research objectives in the strategic planning of NOAA line offices. The review recommended an increase in funding