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.
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.
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.”
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.
SCIPP’s latest annual report provides an overview of our accomplishments, collaborations, research, and outreach from June 2020 through May 2021.
The annual report presents SCIPP’s extensive network of connections with both RISA teams and other climate research organizations. Some of the collaborative projects highlighted in the report include but are not limited to: 1) the SCIPP-GLISA Research to Action Project for Gulf Coast communities who are vulnerable to extreme precipitation and flooding, 2) an ongoing partnership with personnel at Louisiana, Mississippi-Alabama, and Texas Sea Grants to investigate how meteorological variables impact crawfish yields in research ponds in Baton Rouge, LA, and 3) SCIPP’s enhanced research outputs with Texas Sea Grant through a variety of climate information resources which focus on crucial problems such as sea-level rise and soil moisture variation in drought-prone areas.
A diverse collection of research projects are also included: 1) a social network-based project intended to improve connectivity between the National Climate Assessment and stakeholders, 2) how National Weather Service forecasters in the SCIPP region process and communicate extreme rainfall events, 3) a new tool that shows historical trends in temperature for locations across the state of Texas, and 4) a comparative case study of hazard mitigation planning in six inland countries in the SCIPP region.
A unique feature of this annual report is its coverage of COVID-19 impacts on SCIPP’s in-person engagement efforts. While many engagements were able to take place virtually, the SCIPP team experienced limitations with obtaining quality feedback and discussions. However, SCIPP found ways to serve our stakeholders through virtual outreach such as the Gulf Coast Water Workshop, a NOAA-designed workshop hosted by SCIPP in July 2020.
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. Accordingly, the application of SCIPP’s mission objectives is detailed throughout the annual report.
To download the full version of the report, click here. To view the archive of SCIPP’s annual reports, visit the About SCIPP Page.
The northeastern Oklahoma city of Tulsa was one of the most flood-prone cities in the nation in the 1970’s. Now, Tulsa is known for its success in mitigating flood hazards. SCIPP researchers have published a study in Natural Hazards Review that examines Tulsa’s progression toward effective flood hazard mitigation. 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?
Using a case study approach, University of Kansas Associate Professor Ward Lyles, University of Kansas Graduate Student Penn Pennel, and SCIPP Deputy Director Rachel Riley, collected primary documents, conducted and transcribed interviews, and made site visits to Tulsa. Their 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 highlighted 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 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.