The NOAA International Research Applications Program (IRAP) is a collaboration involving climate, sectoral, and social scientists at the Institute of the Environment at the University of Arizona and the International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University and regional and national partners in the Caribbean, Asia, and West Africa, which seeks to build resilience to impacts from climate variability and change, using strategies in the sectors of water resources, hazard risk management and coastal planning and management.
The three focus regions are extremely vulnerable to climate variability, particularly extreme events and stresses on food production, water resources, and coastal hazards. Their continued economic development is threatened by today’s climate, and those threats are likely to worsen with future climate change. The effective provision of climate services may help sustain hard-won development gains and engender climate-‐resilient societies. The aim is to develop hydroclimate information at multiple timescales that can meet identified user needs.
IRAP’s approach involves understanding the decision processes in which climate information is used, and the institutional context within which information is provided, accessed, and implemented. A key element is multidisciplinary teams that bind climate, sectoral, and social scientists in collaboration with regional and national/subnational partners to develop decision-support systems in specific contexts; these are referred to as “drill-down” projects. Through analysis of these, IRAP will assist its regional-‐scale partners to transfer and/or upscale successes. UA is performing user needs analyses and vulnerability assessments, supplying extension expertise, and adding an evaluation component, while IRI incorporates observational, modeling, and prediction data from NOAA. Through co-developed research, product development, and training IRAP aims to help to build resilience through sustained, reliable and timely climate services that are rooted within the regions.
Specific research and service foci include:
(1) Assessing vulnerabilities, information needs, capabilities and adaptation challenges in each region;
(2) providing usable climate information for focus sectors;
(3) translating climate information products spanning intra-‐ seasonal and interannual to longer term climate changes,
(4) developing and producing integrated decision-‐support processes and tools such as early warning systems;
(5) designing and conducting capacity building and training programs;
(6) developing and testing rigorous evaluation techniques and applying those to our program; and
(7) analyzing and communicating experiences within and across the regions, translating findings into practice-‐based guidance for climate resiliency efforts in other regions.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA)
U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID)
International Research Institute for Climate and Society, Columbia University