A Prototype Indicators System for U.S. Climate Changes, Impacts, Vulnerabilities, and Responses
Monday, 14 December 2015
Poster Hall (Moscone South)
Indicators are observations or calculations that are used to systematically report or forecast social and biophysical conditions over time. When the purpose of indicators is to, in part, provide complex scientific information that is understood by non-scientists and included in decision processes, the choice of indicators requires a structured process that includes co-production among a range of actors, including scientists, decision-makers, and a range of stakeholders. Here we describe recommendations on a vision and a prototype created for an indicators system, we term the National Climate Indicators System (NCIS). The goal of the NCIS is to create a system of physical, natural, and societal indicators to communicate and inform decisions about climate changes, impacts, vulnerabilities, and responses. The process of generating the indicator system involved input from over 200 subject-matter experts. Organized into 13 teams, experts created conceptual models of their respective sectors to generate an initial recommended set of indicators. A subset of indicators, which could be immediately implemented, were prototyped for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) a Federal program that coordinates and supports integration of global change research across the government. USGCRP reviewed the recommendations (Kenney et al., 2014) and prototypes provided by the scientific experts, and recently launched 14 indicators as proof-of-concept in support of a sustained National Climate Assessment and to solicit feedback from the users. Social science research is currently being undertaken in order to evaluate how well the prototype indicators communicate science to non-scientists, the usability of indicator system portal by scientists and decision-makers, and the development of information visualization guidelines to improve visual communication effectiveness. The goal of such efforts would be to provide input into the development of a more comprehensive USGCRP indicator set, building on recommendations from Kenney et al. (2014), and improve our understanding of the comprehension and use of indicators by non-scientists.