CR 40:103-119 (2009) - doi:10.3354/cr00827
Factors influencing the use of climate information by Colorado municipal water managers
Jessica L. Lowrey1,3,*, Andrea J. Ray2, Robert S. Webb2
ABSTRACT: Water supplies in Colorado are sensitive to climate variability. Throughout the study period (2004–2009), there was an increase in demand for climate products and climate education by water management decision makers, which we attribute to a severe drought beginning in 2002 that changed the decision makers’ perception of risk. Once decision makers recognized that they were vulnerable to water supply shortages, they sought out information and education from the Western Water Assessment (WWA). Building on relationships established prior to the 2002 drought, the WWA improved the climate literacy of water managers through enhanced interaction, which resulted in an increased use of climate information, outlooks (i.e. seasonal forecasts), and projections in water planning. In addition to the way that climate science can inform decision-making, we documented how decision makers can inform climate science of the need for additional research. In this article, we show the evolution of the use of different types of climate products and explain the connections among drought, perception of risk, climate literacy, and interactions with climate information providers.
KEY WORDS: Climate information · Climate products · Climate services · Water management · Western USA · Drought
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