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

1University of Colorado at Boulder, NOAA, Western Water Assessment, 216 UCB, Boulder, Colorado 80309, USA
2NOAA Earth System Research Laboratory, R/PSD1, 325 Broadway, Boulder, Colorado 80305, USA
3Present address: 625 Glenwood Drive, Lafayette, Colorado 80026, USA

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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Cite this article as: Lowrey JL, Ray AJ, Webb RS (2009) Factors influencing the use of climate information by Colorado municipal water managers. Clim Res 40:103-119

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