Connecting Climate Information Producers and Users in the Caribbean

May 1, 2014 -

Boundary organizations, knowledge networks, and information brokers have been suggested as mechanisms that help integrate information into decision-making and enhance interactions between the producers and users of climate information. While these mechanisms have been discussed in many studies in disparate fields of research, there has been little empirical research describing how they relate and support each other within studies on climate services.

In this project, IRAP participated in and studied two Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forums (CariCOFs) convened in 2014 in Kingston, Jamaica (May) and St. Johns, Antigua (December). CariCOFs are organized by the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrolgy and bring together scientists and decision makers to inform the production of regional seasonal climate information, build awareness and understanding, and dissemination the information to a broad audience.

In our study, we used network analysis, key informant interviews, and small group discussions were used to answer two questions: 1) what are the barriers to using seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) by CariCOF participants and 2) what are the iterative processes of information exchange that address these barriers?

Some of the results include: the barriers to using SCF include difficulty in demonstrating the value of the forecast to potential users, difficulty in interpreting and explaining the forecast to others, and challenges associated with the scientific language used in the information. To address these constraints, the convener of the CariCOF acts as a boundary organization by enabling interactions between participants representing diverse sectoral and geographic settings. This develops a network that helps build shared scientific understanding and knowledge about how different sectors experience climate risk. These interactions guide information brokering activities that help individuals communicate and translate climate information to facilitate understanding at local levels.

You can read more details about this study in the Journal Weather Climate and Society, published here. Or, email Zack Guido for a copy <zguido(at)email.arizona.edu>.

IRAP Members

Andrea Gerlak, Christina Greene, Zack Guido, Diana Liverman, Valerie Rountree

Project Partners

Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology (CIMH)