Extending beyond stakeholder-driven climate research, CISA team members work to translate findings into useful, useable information for decision makers. This entails engagement with stakeholders from project development through final dissemination of findings in order that questions are answered in a way that is most relevant to the end user.
Several of CISA’s projects that seek to provide decision support services address questions about the impacts of climate variability and change on water supply and quality. CISA incorporates climate data into watershed-scale hydrologic models, develops resources to demonstrate the significance of water in the Carolinas, and provides information about water and climate interactions and impacts.
• Assessing climate sensitivity and long-term water supply reliability. In collaboration with utility representatives from the Orange Water and Sewer Authority (OWASA) in Carrboro, NC, team members are assessing the raw water supply available to determine its vulnerability to changing climatic conditions. The project is informed by the “decision scaling” approach where focus is placed on modeling a system’s response to climate in order to understand its vulnerability, rather than starting with a top-down impact assessment based on climate change projections. As a result, this project is expected to facilitate the consideration of climate change in the utility’s long-range planning.
• Future streamflow forecasts for a coastal plain river. There is considerable interest in forecasting future river-discharge levels and their downstream effects on blue crabs, one of the most important commercial fisheries in the Southeast but adversely affected by recent droughts. Low levels of freshwater discharge into the estuary changes the salinity profile which influences crab growth, movement, and survival. This project aims to identify and examine a range of possible changes in Edisto River discharge between now and 2030. Streamflow projections will be used as input for an individual-based blue crab model, developed by Michael Childress (Clemson University), to forecast future SC blue crab landings.
In partnership with the SC Sea Grant Consortium, CISA funds a coastal climate extension specialist who unites the expertise of CISA research on climate science with the outreach expertise of regional Sea Grant extension programs. Elizabeth (Liz) Fly currently holds the position and is based out of the SC Sea Grant Consortium offices in Charleston, SC.
Liz cultivates relationships with many stakeholder groups, including coastal zone management, local municipalities, and local non-government organizations in order to bridge the gap between coastal climate science and decision making. Liz serves as a scientific consultant to a citizen-driven sea level rise task force in Beaufort and Port Royal, SC. She plays a similar role for the Charleston Resilience Network, a regional working group consisting of public and private partners seeking to develop and foster a platform to share information, educate stakeholders, and enhance long-term planning decisions that result in increased regional resilience.
Liz also works closely with climate extension specialists from other Sea Grant programs throughout the Southeast to further extend the reach of these efforts and is co-chair for the Southeast and Caribbean Climate Community of Practice.