SCIPP Publication Selected as Editor’s Choice in Natural Hazards Review | 11.17.2021

In June 2021, SCIPP researchers Ward Lyles, Penn Pennel, and Rachel Riley published a study in Natural Hazards Review that examines Tulsa’s progression toward effective flood hazard mitigation. This month, their paper has been selected to be featured in the Editor’s Choice section of the Natural Hazards Review page in the American Society of Civil Engineers (ASCE) Library. With this feature, the paper is made free with registration for a three-month period.

Motivated by observations of Tulsa’s remarkable transition from one of the most flood-prone cities in the nation in the 1970s to its present-day success in mitigating flood hazards, Jazz on Tulsa Time: The Remarkable Story of the Network of Flood Mitigation Champions behind the Tulsa Turnaround addresses two questions: First, does Tulsa’s nationally acclaimed model local hazard mitigation effort fit what the research points to as the standard model of hazard mitigation? Second, how have the characteristics and roles of local champions and the relationships between them shaped Tulsa’s successes?

The case study analysis found that Tulsa’s hazard mitigation effort shared many of the principal features of the standard model of hazard mitigation, thus confirming its importance. Additionally, analysis of the second research question gave insight into how local champions shaped the network of mitigation advocates in Tulsa. These findings stressed the importance of following the standard model for hazard mitigation, as well as promoting a diverse group of stakeholders with regard to their professional roles, personal characteristics, and relationships, in order to cultivate the conditions for local champions of hazard mitigation to succeed.

The study also offers four recommendations for practitioners and policy makers who are interested in replicating Tulsa’s successes in other locations: 1) Foster and sustain a team of champions, 2) Make room for multiple models of leadership, 3) Acknowledge the personal sacrifices that can arise for a mitigation champion, and 4) Approach hazard mitigation primarily as a community planning issue, not an emergency management function.

The complete manuscript can be accessed for free with registration for a three-month period at After three months, the paper can be found in the Editor’s Choice Collection on the same page.

Tulsa’s hazard mitigation network and champions over four periods of time.
Figure 4. Tulsa’s hazard mitigation network and champions over four periods of time.

New Resource: The RISA Sustained Assessment Specialist Network | 11.8.2021

The RISA Sustained Assessment Specialist (SAS) Network promotes cross-regional collaboration, leverages expertise, and promotes learning and equitable solutions within the adaptation community.

SCIPP’s Climate Assessment Specialist Darrian Bertrand, who is a member of the SAS Network, collaborated with the network to produce a 2-page reference sheet that provides information about sustained assessment, introduces the recent and current sustained assessment specialists, and describes their regional accomplishments as well as their cross-regional, collective impact.

To learn more about the network, click here to access the document.

The RISA SAS Network Reference Sheet.
The RISA SAS Network Reference Sheet.

New Report Examines the Effects of Climate Change Across the Gulf Coast Region | 10.21.2021

In collaboration with the Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, Stanford University, Headwaters Economics, and Adaptation International, SCIPP has produced a report summarizing the changing climate and common weather and climate hazards of the Gulf Coast states (TX, LA, MS, AL, GA, FL). This report was produced for the FloodWise Communities Project, funded by the National Academies of Sciences’ Gulf Research Program, and is part of a broader package of resources produced in concert with Gulf Coast communities threatened by a growing flood risk in the face of climate change. The primary target audience is city planners, community leaders, and local/state governments seeking deeper knowledge of the region’s climate and broader context for observed local climate trends.

Chapter 1 summarizes the physical geography of the Gulf Coast states, the climatic sub-regions based on the Köppen-Geiger climate classifications, and the entire region’s average climate state based on the 1981-2010 climate normal. Chapter 2 includes city, state, and regional-level analyses of observed changes in temperature and rainfall over the last 40 years, as well as high-level explanations of why these changes have occurred. In Chapter 3, the report explains the concept of climate modeling for non-experts, makes a comparison of statistically versus dynamically downscaled climate model products, and describes how the Gulf Coast states’ climate could change by 2100 according to the NA-CORDEX multi-model ensemble (under the RCP8.5 emissions scenario). The fourth and final chapter of the report consists of three-page summaries of weather and climate hazards to which parts of the Gulf Coast states are vulnerable; namely, sea level rise, hurricanes, droughts and floods, tornadoes, and wildfires.

The full report is available here.

Cover Page.
Cover page of the report.

SCIPP Begins Fourth Consecutive Phase of the Program Under New Director Rachel Riley | 10.4.2021

After positive news of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program’s $5.4 million award, the program continues its research endeavors with a new leader at the helm.

Rachel Riley is the new Director of the Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program at the University of Oklahoma. Previously, she was SCIPP’s Deputy Director. She has over a decade of experience co-producing useful and usable research and information that helps communities and states in the South-Central U.S. better plan for and respond to climate-related challenges. Ms. Riley has collaborated with small and large communities, tribal nations, and state officials. She has expertise in climate adaptation and hazard mitigation planning, communication, decision support tool evaluation, and social science methodologies. She is an expert at translating complex climate information into formats that are meaningful to decision makers.

SCIPP Director Rachel Riley.
SCIPP Director Rachel Riley.

Over the course of her career, Ms. Riley has conducted research on the topics of improving hazard mitigation planning and outcomes, connecting land use planning with emergency management functions, climate decision support tool evaluation, climate needs assessments, and disaster response. She has engaged with colleagues and stakeholders at numerous conferences, technical meetings, and workshops and has advised undergraduate and graduate students. In 2019 she received a national Route Fifty Navigator Award for her involvement in developing the Simple Planning Tool for Oklahoma Climate Hazards. In the same year she also received another award for the Simple Planning Tool from the Oklahoma Chapter of the American Planning Association.

Ms. Riley holds a B.S. in meteorology from Iowa State University and an M.S. in interdisciplinary studies (communication and meteorology) from the University of Oklahoma. She is a member of the American Meteorological Society, American Association of State Climatologists, American Society of Adaptation Professionals, and the Earth Science Women’s Network. Born and raised in Minnesota, Ms. Riley has lived in Oklahoma for over a decade.

SCIPP’s Dr. Mark Shafer served as Director of the program since its inception in 2008, until 2021. He will continue his valuable contributions to SCIPP as Deputy Director. Dr. Barry Keim, who has played an instrumental role since SCIPP’s inception, will also continue to be involved as lead investigator at Louisiana State University.

SCIPP Awarded NOAA Funding To Continue Work Over Next Five Years | 9.27.2021

The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program is pleased to announce that it has received funding for the next five years for its project entitled, “Planning for Long Term Change in a Short Term World.” The team successfully competed for NOAA funding from the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments program in the Climate Program Office and will receive $5.4 million over the five year award, contingent on congressional appropriations. SCIPP began in 2008 and is entering its fourth phase. The team is led by the University of Oklahoma and includes previous partners Louisiana State University and Texas Sea Grant at Texas A&M University. A new partner in phase IV is Adaptation International. Although Adaptation International is a new member of the SCIPP team in a formal capacity, the Austin, Texas-based company has collaborated with SCIPP on several projects over the years.

SCIPP’s mission is to assist organizations with making decisions that build resilience by collaboratively producing research, tools, and knowledge that reduce weather and climate risks and impacts across the South Central United States, which includes Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas and Louisiana. To do so, SCIPP engages with stakeholders to identify specific ways in which their plans and operations are impacted by extreme events and connects them to relevant and actionable climate information that can inform their planning and decision-making processes. Where possible, deeper interactions are identified that can result in co-production of new knowledge or tools.

“This funding will enable us to continue to collaborate with decision makers in the region and advance research that helps communities reduce the impact of their climate-related challenges,” said SCIPP Director Rachel Riley. “The interdisciplinary and stakeholder-driven nature of the project is a unique arrangement that allows us to build truly impactful partnerships and knowledge.”

In recent years, the team has made physical science advancements such as understanding changes in hourly precipitation, extreme heat in Louisiana, and wildfire impacts on the Southern Plains. Social scientific advancements and engagement led to understanding how knowledge management practices can enhance the use of science in decision making, the utility of a climate decision support tool, how previously flood-prone Tulsa, Oklahoma succeeded in mitigating the hazard, and understanding the climate-related needs of small- to medium-sized Gulf Coast water utilities. In addition to academic publications, SCIPP researchers and engagement specialists have contributed to local and state planning documents, working groups, workshops, and developed online tools.

Four themes will be the focus of the project during 2021-2026: climate-informed planning, developing governance and collaborative capacity, extreme events in a changing climate, and climate justice. Together, the themes are designed to help communities and states become more resilient to climate-related challenges. Learning how to incorporate climate information effectively into long-term plans opens opportunities for mitigating climate impacts. Recognizing the financial and policy levers available to communities reveals how disasters can become sources of future resilience. Understanding how climate change may affect the frequency and intensity of events equips communities with foresight and preparedness. Climate justice assures that all members of communities have a voice in policies and activities taken to lessen the impacts of future events.

For more information, visit or follow SCIPP on Twitter at @SCIPP_RISA and Facebook at @SouthernClimateImpactsPlanningProgram.

SCIPP's Interconnected Themes 2021-2026
SCIPP’s Interconnected Themes 2021-2026.