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Identifying stakeholder-relevant climate change impacts: A case study in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA


Designing climate-related research so that study results will be useful to natural resource managers is a unique challenge. While decision makers increasingly recognize the need to consider climate change in their resource management plans, and climate scientists recognize the importance of providing locally-relevant climate data and projections, there often remains a gap between management needs and the information that is available or is being collected. We used decision analysis concepts to bring decision-maker and stakeholder perspectives into the applied research planning process. In 2009 we initiated a series of studies on the impacts of climate change in the Yakima River Basin (YRB) with a four-day stakeholder workshop, bringing together managers, stakeholders, and scientists to develop an integrated conceptual model of climate change and climate change impacts in the YRB. The conceptual model development highlighted areas of uncertainty that limit the understanding of the potential impacts of climate change and decision alternatives by those who will be most directly affected by those changes, and pointed to areas where additional study and engagement of stakeholders would be beneficial. The workshop and resulting conceptual model highlighted the importance of numerous different outcomes to stakeholders in the basin, including social and economic outcomes that go beyond the physical and biological outcomes typically reported in climate impacts studies. Subsequent studies addressed several of those areas of uncertainty, including changes in water temperatures, habitat quality, and bioenergetics of salmonid populations.

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We thank the workshop participants, Lynne Koontz, and Jennifer Thorvaldson for their support, and the reviewers for many helpful suggestions. Funding was provided by U.S. Geological Survey, Science Applications and Decision Support Program. Any use of trade, firm, or product names is for descriptive purposes only and does not imply endorsement of the U.S. Government.

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Correspondence to A. Maule.

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This article is part of a Special Topic on "Stakeholder Input to Climate Change Research in the Yakima River Basin, WA" edited by Alec Maule and Stephen Waste.

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Jenni, K., Graves, D., Hardiman, J. et al. Identifying stakeholder-relevant climate change impacts: A case study in the Yakima River Basin, Washington, USA. Climatic Change 124, 371–384 (2014).

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  • Climate Change Impact
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