Regional Environmental Change

, Volume 15, Issue 4, pp 657–667 | Cite as

What do stakeholders need to manage for climate change and variability? A document-based analysis from three mountain states in the Western USA

Original Article


Resource managers and governments at all scales are becoming more aware of the challenges and opportunities that climate change and variability pose for their operational goals. At the same time, providers of climate information are learning that simply creating and disseminating information without context does not necessarily serve the needs of decision makers. As a result, calls for new ways of supporting decision making and supplying information abound. Many of these calls suggest that much more consultation with stakeholders is necessary in order to effectively serve their needs and provide usable information. While this is undoubtedly true, there is also in many cases an existing wealth of experience understanding needs of stakeholders that could be assessed before additional interaction is warranted. The goal of this study was to produce a baseline of stakeholder needs with respect to climate-related decision making from existing documents in three interior western states in the USA to examine patterns of needs and avoid stakeholder fatigue. The results suggest that stakeholders express needs for additional data and research, improved communication and coordination among data and information providers, education of their various publics, and changes to policy and legal frameworks to better manage under a changing climate. Stakeholders express these needs in the context of trying to assess expected impacts, characterize their current and future vulnerability, and manage for future change. The needs and gaps identified suggest opportunities for additional interagency coordination, methods for prioritizing and funding data streams, and partnerships for understanding future climate scenarios.


Usable science Stakeholders Decision support Climate change 



We gratefully acknowledge all individuals who helped us identify documents for this study. We especially thank Tim Bardsley for assistance in locating documents in Utah. This project was funded by the NOAA Climate Program Office through the Western Water Assessment RISA at CIRES, University of Colorado Boulder. We thank Zach Johnson for help in document searching and analysis and Ami Nacu-Schmidt for graphics preparation. We also acknowledge our collaborators at the CISA and GLISA RISAs for assistance in developing the methodological protocol. We are grateful to Eric Gordon, Kristen Averyt, Elizabeth McNie, and Chad McNutt for comments on the manuscript.

Supplementary material

10113_2014_668_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (55 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 54 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Western Water Assessment, Center for Science and Technology Policy Research, Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences and Environmental Studies ProgramUniversity of Colorado BoulderBoulderUSA

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