Critical Thresholds, Extreme Weather, and Building Resilience in the South Central United States

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This report explains the findings from a project on building resilience in the South Central United States. A multidisciplinary team used a participatory process to engage local citizens and identify locally relevant critical thresholds for extreme events, and use these thresholds to customize climate projections to community-specific needs. Identifying and better understanding critical thresholds for extreme events is key to developing effective community responses to climate change. Four small to medium-sized communities (Boulder, CO; Las Cruces, NM; Miami, OK, and San Angelo, TX) joined this multi-disciplinary project team to:

Collaborate on identifying critical thresholds for extreme weather events in their communities;

Create downscaled climate projections specific to those thresholds;

Review the customized climate projections; and

Identify and implement a resilience action project.

The team learned several lessons from applying this participatory approach to building community climate resilience:

Successful co-production of actionable science, based on the extreme weather events thresholds concept, show potential to bridge the gap between climate science and on-the-ground action to build resilience.

Both broad stakeholder engagement and expected attrition in participation can be used to strengthen efforts to build community climate resilience.

Communities are interested in threshold levels more extreme than those typically selected in scientific analyses, and in a wider range of extremes.

Communities are opportunistic when acting to build community resilience. In most cases, the communities chose resilience projects that fit with on-going efforts.

Each community selected a project that has co-benefits and helps build more than one aspect of resilience.

The threshold concept is useful as an entry point for discussions about climate change.

Keywords: Climate Modeling and Scenario Planning; Disaster Risk Reduction/Hazard Management/Hazard Management; Urban Planning
Local Empowerment; Resilience and Climate Change Adaptation; Shared Learning Processes; Water Management

Authors: The Critical Thresholds, Extreme Weather, and Building Resilience Team.

Citation: Adaptation International. (2017). Critical Thresholds, Extreme Weather, and Building Resilience. Boulder, CO: The Critical Thresholds, Extreme Weather, and Building Resilience Team.

Funded by: NOAA Sectoral Applications Research Program (SARP)


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