The University of Arizona

Climate Information for Disaster Management | CCASS


A new website focused on Scenario Planning for Climate Adaptation,, has been developed by CCASS and the DOI Southwest Climate Science Center. 

About Us

CCASS/NNCAP welcomes Valerie Small!

Dr. Valerie Small (Apsaalooke'-Crow) has joined the Native Nations Climate Adaptation Program as an Assistant Research Scientist. Dr. Small will be working with Tribes in the Southwest Region in collaboration with CCASS and NNCAP within the Institute of the Environment as well as the Southwest Climate Science Center (SW CSC). She will develop and deliver educational training modules to increase their environmental technical capacity in preparing for, as well as predicting near-term/future effects of climate change.

Prior to joining the UA, Valerie was a training consultant with Colorado State University, Natural Resource Ecology Lab (NREL), working with the North Central Climate Science Center. Her experience includes developing and conducting training and research to support North American Indigenous Tribes adaptation planning efforts to prepare for the effects of a warming climate.  

Climate Information for Disaster Management

Photo Credit: 
Pacific Disaster Center
A PDC Global Hazards Atlas displays FEMA flood zones and infrastructure on Oahu during two days of floods in March 2013.
Lead CCASS Contact: 

UA-based CLIMAS, the National Weather Service, and FEMA Region IX are collaborating to design a hydroclimate dashboard that FEMA can use to improve preparedness for potential flooding disasters. The dashboard is an online tool designed to be integrated into FEMA IX’s current information use environment, that provides them with 12-14 maps (depending on the season) arranged to present:

  • Climatologies - The historical climate context through maps of historical averages of precipitation and impact data related to floods and previous FEMA declarations across the region.
  • Current Conditions: The current climate conditions that either amplify or dampen the impacts of an extreme event.
  • Seasonal Forecasts: Forecasts of ENSO conditions, precipitation forecasts, and flood forecasts.

These three temporal components are tied together by an introductory synthesis, which is written by WR-NWS staff each month.  The synthesis highlights current climate conditions and possible impacts based on the information presented on the dashboard and the expert judgment of WR-NWS.

FEMA Region IX (CA, AZ, NV and Pacific Islands) has based its disaster management preparations on weather information for decades. Climate information, which conditions weather risk, however, has been underutilized. Hurricanes, atmospheric rivers, floods and other climate-related extremes commonly strike Region IX and have led to 154 federal disasters between 1964 and 2007. Climate phenomena like El Niño Southern Oscillation (ENSO) and the Madden Julian Oscillation (MJO), in combination with past and current conditions, provide untapped opportunities to leverage climate information to help FEMA better monitor, anticipate and prepare for potential disasters.

This project has just entered its evaluation phase, in which we are working with our partners at FEMA and NWS to determine the usefulness of the dashboard and make modifications to the tool that will increase its use in decision making.  UA project leads are Zack Guido, Mike Crimmins, and Alison Meadow.