The CASCs strive to produce science that can be used to help ecosystems and communities adapt to climate change. CASC researchers engage with a large network of partners in diverse ways to produce actionable science.
CASCs Prioritize Actionable Science
The CASC network strives to develop science that is useful and directly usable in supporting climate adaptation decisions, actions, and plans. In pursuit of this actionable science, CASC research is characterized by an emphasis on partnership engagement. CASCs support scientists in working iteratively with project stakeholders and projected end users to ensure that final products address salient management needs. This partnership engagement falls along a continuum depending on user needs and resources, ranging from simply providing partners with results (“inform”) to complete “co-production of knowledge,” where partners are fully engaged in the scientific process from start to finish. The CASCs place particular value on projects supporting high levels of partner involvement, as these collaborations often generate the most actionable science.
CASCs Work with Partners in Diverse Ways
The CASC network works with a broad array of partners representing diverse stakeholder needs. Here are just a few of the many approaches CASCs use to engage with partners.
CASCs explore effects of climate change on ecosystems through research collaborations. The CASCs fund research collaborations between university scientists, federal researchers, resource managers, conservation groups, and/or Native communities. These projects integrate partners into the research process, allowing them to identify priority research questions, design experiments, and contribute to data collection and analyses. These research products result in scientific knowledge that is directly applicable to on-the-ground decisions. For example, in a project supported by the Alaska CASC, a team led by a USDA researcher is conducting stream surveys to understand how climate change is affecting stream trophic dynamics and salmon productivity in Alaska. This work has been endorsed by the Southeast Alaska Fish Habitat Partnership, an organization that includes representatives from most federal, state, native corporation, NGO, and community stakeholders in Southeast Alaska, and will be used to prioritize conservation and restoration in the region.
CASCs communicate the effects of climate change on specific regions and resources. The CASC network produces regional climate data sets, such as downscaled climate projections, and synthesized fact sheets that resource managers and local communities can use to understand potential effects of climate change in their areas. For example, the Southeast CASC developed customized sea-level rise scenario fact sheets for 43 national wildlife refuges and 10 National Park Service lands across the coast of the Gulf of Mexico in response to requests from partners at the Northern Gulf of Mexico Sentinel Site Cooperative and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Gulf Restoration Program.
CASCs fill knowledge gaps. The CASCs work with partners to identify knowledge gaps in their management and stakeholder engagement strategies. By conducting research to fill these gaps, CASC researchers help partners improve their understanding of climate change effects, viable adaptation strategies, and stakeholder communication needs. For example, the CASCs periodically gather diverse groups of experts and stakeholders via workshops and working groups to synthesize knowledge about highly relevant but poorly understood topics, such as climate refugia (Southwest CASC) and biological thresholds (Northeast CASC).
CASCs provide technical expertise to inform decision making. The CASCs work with partners to help integrate climate data into planning and prioritization activities, such as Species Status Assessments, State Wildlife Action Plans, and climate scenario planning workshops. The CASCs also work with partners to create tools and decision making frameworks to help agencies create climate-informed adaptation strategies. For example, the North Central CASC created a tool for the National Park Service Climate Change Response Program to help download and parse climate data sets for climate futures scenario planning activities for national parks.
CASCs create professional development and educational opportunities. The CASCs harness federal, university, and tribal college resources to provide students and early-career researchers and managers with training and professional development opportunities, such as fellowships, workshops, and conferences. For example, the CASC network has supported over 200 students through its 10+ fellowship and training programs.
Advisory Committees Inform Priorities
The CASC network relies on stakeholder input to identify research needs, prioritize projects, and elevate research products. Each regional CASC has an Advisory Committee that meets several times a year to solicit stakeholder input into annual research priorities. These committees include participation from federal, state, local, regional, and tribal natural and cultural resource management entities and science providers. These regional committees provide direct input into CASC annual and longer-term science planning efforts and help develop regional science themes that comprise CASC funding opportunity announcements. View the Advisory Committee Terms of Reference below:
From 2013-2017, the national and regional CASCs were advised by the Advisory Committee on Climate Change and Natural Resource Science (ACCCNRS). ACCCNRS was comprised of 25 members representing federal agencies; state and local governments; nongovernmental organizations; Tribal Nations; Academia; and landowners, businesses, and organizations. The ACCCNRS charter expired in 2017.