From Data to Doing

Terra Idaho MapBy Lee Anna Sherman

Adapting to climate change requires two key things: good data and boots on the ground. As oceans rise, icecaps melt, snowpack diminishes, wildfires rage and aquifers dry up, coupling science to action becomes ever more urgent. But the barriers to linking science to practical action are formidable, often springing from deep disparities in worldview among researchers and “information users,” says Oregon State sociologist Denise Lach. Scientists and decision makers, she notes, may hold “different notions of truth and knowledge.”

Breaking through these barriers is the intent behind a pilot project in Idaho’s Big Wood River Basin, where a diverse group of local stakeholders has been meeting regularly with OSU climate and social scientists to talk about and plan for climate-driven changes in water quality and availability. Convening and hosting this “knowledge-to-action network” is the Climate Impacts Research Consortium (CIRC) based at Oregon State. By fall, the network will have developed and analyzed alternative scenarios based on climate models, land-use practices and population growth.