Identifying Stakeholder-relevant Climate Change Impacts: A Case Study in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA
Designing climate-related research so that study results will be useful to natural resource managers is a unique challenge. While decision makers increasingly recognize the need to consider climate change in their resource management plans, and climate scientists recognize the importance of providing locally-relevant climate data and projections, there often remains a gap between management needs and the information that is available or is being collected. We used decision analysis concepts to bring decision-maker and stakeholder perspectives into the applied research planning process. In 2009 we initiated a series of studies on the impacts of climate change in the Yakima River Basin (YRB) with a four-day stakeholder workshop, bringing together managers, stakeholders, and scientists to develop an integrated conceptual model of climate change and climate change impacts in the YRB. The conceptual model development highlighted areas of uncertainty that limit the understanding of the potential impacts of climate change and decision alternatives by those who will be most directly affected by those changes, and pointed to areas where additional study and engagement of stakeholders would be beneficial. The workshop and resulting conceptual model highlighted the importance of numerous different outcomes to stakeholders in the basin, including social and economic outcomes that go beyond the physical and biological outcomes typically reported in climate impacts studies. Subsequent studies addressed several of those areas of uncertainty, including changes in water temperatures, habitat quality, and bioenergetics of salmonid populations.
Jenni, K., D. Graves, J. Hardiman, J. Hatten, M. Mastin, M. Mesa, J. Montag, and A. Maule. 2014. Identifying stakeholder-relevant climate change impacts: A case study in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA. Climatic Change 124:371-384.