CR 58:29-41 (2013)  -  DOI: https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01181

Disconnect between science and end-users as a barrier to climate change adaptation

Anthony S. Kiem*, Emma K. Austin

Environmental and Climate Change Research Group, School of Environmental and Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Information Technology, University of Newcastle, Callaghan, NSW 2308, Australia

ABSTRACT: Much research into climate change impacts and adaptation has been, and continues to be, conducted. However, the well documented themes and recommendations continue to emerge with little evidence of effective climate change adaptation strategies being implemented. This is because while climate change adaptation strategies are not hard to develop, it is difficult to evaluate their effectiveness or, in some cases, even define effectiveness. Compounding this is the fact that implementing strategies that in theory, or in pilot studies, are potentially effective is complicated due to political, economic, legislative and science constraints and the difficulties associated with decision making under uncertainty. Here we focus on Australian rural communities and have found that a major barrier to implementation of effective adaptation strategies is the disconnect between the information that end-users need (or think they need) and the existing outcomes of climate change impacts and adaptation research. While previous research, and anecdotal evidence, qualitatively establishes that a ‘gap’ does exist, this study represents a preliminary attempt at quantifying the causes and magnitude of the disconnect: a necessary first step in addressing the challenge posed by this barrier to adaptation. The findings are relevant beyond Australia, beyond the agriculture sector, and beyond climate change science, and highlight the need for urgent work aimed at bridging the gap between scientists and decision makers (and other end-users).


KEY WORDS: Interdisciplinary studies · Adaptation · Decision making · Agriculture · Terminology


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Cite this article as: Kiem AS, Austin EK (2013) Disconnect between science and end-users as a barrier to climate change adaptation. Clim Res 58:29-41. https://doi.org/10.3354/cr01181

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