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SCIPP Research Associate Simone Speizer, in collaboration with Texas Sea Grant, has created a tool that shows historical trends in temperatures for locations across the state of Texas. The Texas Temperature Trends Dashboard presents trends in extreme heat, extreme cold, warm nights, heating and cooling degree days, seasonal average temperatures, seasonal extreme temperatures, and yearly average temperatures from 1970-2019 for 75 stations (point locations) in Texas. The graphs show both individual data points for each year and overall trend lines, and they can be downloaded as images. The dashboard also includes a link to a fact sheet discussing the temperature indicators shown in the tool and their importance.
While other resources exist that present regional or national trends in temperatures, few tools offer such information on a local level. This dashboard helps to fill that gap by providing location-specific information about changes in temperature in the last 50 years. By incorporating trends in indicators such as extreme heat and warm nights to data of overall temperature trends, the dashboard delivers insight into changes in heat that can bring public health and economic ramifications to communities. Other indicators, such as heating and cooling degree days, are relevant to analyses of energy use and emissions.
SCIPP has produced a summary of the winter weather event from February 2021 that greatly impacted the south central U.S. It was the coldest event to occur in the SCIPP region in over 30 years, and the prolonged extreme cold coupled with wintry precipitation caused numerous waterline breaks, power outages, and nearly 200 fatalities, amongst other impacts. The summary was produced by SCIPP Climate Assessment Specialist Darrian Bertrand and SCIPP Research Associate Simone Speizer.
February 2021: Extreme Cold, Snow, and Ice in the South Central U.S. is a 30-page document that begins with information about the weather pattern and describes records that were broken, the context of the event compared to climatology, and past historic events. The second half of the document describes impacts to various sectors including energy, water, health, infrastructure, the economy, the environment, and society. Examples of hazard mitigation successes in the region are also provided to encourage stakeholders to reduce their vulnerability for future extreme cold events, especially in the energy sector. These distinct sections allow for easy navigation through the document.
To help meet stakeholder needs, this summary was written for a general audience with the goal of helping individuals compare the south central U.S. February 2021 extreme cold event to past events.
The document was produced by University of Oklahoma regional and city planning graduate student Jessica Langsdon, SCIPP Deputy Director Rachel Riley, and SCIPP Climate Assessment Specialist Darrian Bertrand.
Previous stakeholder feedback indicated that when it comes to climate resilience and adaptation, some are lacking awareness of the planning and financial resources that are available and/or are overwhelmed with the amount of information available on the Internet. SCIPP’s guide improves ease of access to such information and helps bridge the gap between available climate resilience tools and community knowledge of said tools.
Many climate decision support tools have been developed to support a variety of sectors and scales, but evaluation of such tools has only recently begun to take place. SCIPP’s Deputy Director Rachel Riley conducted an evaluation of SCIPP’s Simple Planning Tool for Arkansas and Oklahoma—a decision-maker driven climate hazard assessment tool developed in collaboration with stakeholders. The evaluation, published in the peer-reviewed journal Weather, Climate, and Society, found that the tool has high utility despite a relatively limited user base at the time of the study. The study also advances knowledge on climate decision support tool utility evaluation and demonstrates the impact of a tool within planning contexts.
The Simple Planning Tool compiles relatively easy-to-use online interactive climate tools, maps, and graphs that can assist planners and emergency managers who need to assess historical and future climate hazards for their jurisdiction(s). Riley’s study evaluated its utility and impact on a group of decision-makers in Oklahoma and Arkansas, assessing its saliency, credibility, trustworthiness, and how the tool impacted information use and decision-making. The results showed that the Tool’s user group was relatively small at the time of data collection, which was less than one year since the tool became available. However, the Tool has a high utility for the individuals who used it, representing a range of decision contexts including different jurisdictional sizes, geographical scales, and years of experience. SCIPP designed the Simple Planning Tool in a way that reduces the need for frequent updates, but the Program plans to update it if exceptional new tools become available or significant climate science advancements are made.