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Water/Climate Briefings

DCDC hosts Water/Climate Briefings on a regular basis. These briefings are a regular forum for the water-policy community, DCDC researchers, and students to exchange knowledge and ideas. The typical format is a panel of experts and community partners discussing issues such as the urban heat island, water re-use, and the energy-water nexus, followed by audience participation and questions. Since the launch of DCDC, we have hosted four to seven briefings each year, with panelists representing the scientific and professional perspectives.

2015-2016 Water/Climate Briefings

Exploring our New NSF Award Research Themes

In summer 2015, DCDC was awarded a renewal from the National Science Foundation that effectively launches the next wave of our research, education and community outreach. Thanks to this new $4.5 million investment, DCDC will expand on the last decade of scholarship on water sustainability and climate adaptation beyond Phoenix to include other cities dependent on water from the Colorado River Basin. DCDC III will explore transformational solutions for urban water sustainability transitions necessary to sustain water supplies through the current drought and beyond. This research will be conducted through four integrated project areas.

December 3, 2015 – Actors, Institutions and Governance as Socioeconomic Drivers of and Constraints on Urban Water Systems Decision Making

Panelists

  • Dave White, DCDC Director and Moderator
  • Kelli L. Larson, DCDC Associate Director and Co-PI
  • Amber Wutich, Co-PI
  • Michael Hanemann, Co-PI

In IPA 2, we’ll research how residents, institutions, and economic dynamics shape urban water systems and the implications for sustainability transitions by comparing the cities of Phoenix, Las Vegas, and Denver. This comparison will include a residential survey of risk perceptions, attitudes, and behaviors. DCDC will explore pathways for overcoming social, political, and economic barriers to transitions. During the Water/Climate Briefing, the panel discussed opportunities and constraints for water sustainability under climate change and other long-term environmental risks.

November 5, 2015 – Modeling the Impact of Urban Expansion on Regional Hydroclimate

Panelists

  • Matei Georgescu, Assistant Professor, School of Geographical Sciences and Urban Planning
  • Zhihua Wang, IPA 1, Co-Lead and Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment
  • Nancy Selover, State Climatologist for Arizona
  • Summer Waters, Director of Western Lands and Communities, Sonoran Institute
  • Dave White, DCDC Director and Moderator

Integrated Project Area 1 seeks to understand the impacts of regional climate and land-use changes on urban water systems in the context of sustainability transitions in the Colorado River Basin and major cities depending on its water supply, namely Phoenix, Las Vegas and Denver.

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September 22, 2015 – DCDC III: Transformational Solutions for Urban Water Sustainability Transitions

Panelists

  • Dave White, DCDC Director and Moderator
  • Kelli L. Larson, DCDC Associate Director and Co-PI
  • Amber Wutich, Co-PI
  • Michael Hanemann, Co-PI

In summer 2015, DCDC was awarded a renewal from the National Science Foundation that effectively launches the next wave of our research, education and community outreach. Thanks to this new $4.5 million investment, DCDC will expand on the last decade of scholarship on water sustainability and climate adaptation beyond Phoenix to include other cities dependent on water from the Colorado River Basin. DCDC III will explore transformational solutions for urban water sustainability transitions necessary to sustain water supplies through the current drought and beyond. This research will be conducted through four integrated project areas.

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2014-2015 Water/Climate Briefings

Climate Change and Extreme Events

April 8, 2015 – Land-use Change and its Effects on the North American Monsoon

Speaker

  • Theodore Bohn, Post-doctoral Research Associate at Decision Center for a Desert City and School of Earth and Space Exploration at Arizona State University

Southern Arizona and New Mexico receive 40-60% of their annual rainfall in the summer as part of the North American Monsoon (NAM). Modeling studies suggest 15-25% of this rainfall first falls on Mexican land, is transpired by vegetation, and subsequently is transported northward across the border to the US. The natural ecosystems in Sierra Madre Occidental and the adjacent Gulf of California are known for their rapid greening and large transpiration rates at the onset of the monsoon, which promote the recycling of precipitation back into the atmosphere and facilitate further rainfall. Two primary human activities have dramatically changed the region’s hydrologic cycle and evapotranspiration rates: irrigated agriculture and deforestation for grazing activities.

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March 4, 2015 – Climate Change Risk: Extreme Fires and Post-Fire Flooding

Panelists

  • Jonathan Fuller, JE Fuller Hydrology and Geomorphology, Inc.
  • Jennifer Wesselhoff, President/CEO, Sedona Chamber of Commerce
  • Christopher “Kit” O’Connor, Postdoctoral Research Associate and Lecturer, School of Natural Resources and the Environment, University of Arizona
  • Abe Springer, Professor, School of Earth Sciences & Environmental Sustainability, Northern Arizona University
  • Dave White, Co-Director and Moderator, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

Fires are an annual risk for Arizona’s forests which seem to be getting more frequent and catastrophic as our climate becomes hotter and drier. Often after a forest fire, storms can create post-fire floods that cause even more damage. Panelists explored extreme fires and their post-fire floods within the context of heightened climate change risk. How does the ecology of Arizona forests change in response to climatic conditions and how this affects the risks of forest fires, damage fires, and post-fire floods?

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January 15, 2015 – Sharing risk and resources in water management: Need-based transfers from small-scale societies to large-scale systems

Panelists

  • Lee Cronk, Co-Director, The Human Generosity Project, Professor, Department of Anthropology, Rutgers University
  • Athena Aktipis, Co-Director, The Human Generosity Project, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University
  • Amber Wutich, Associate Professor School of Human Evolution and Social Change Arizona State University
  • John T. Murphy, Researcher, Argonne National Laboratory, University of Chicago Computation Institute
  • Dave White, Moderator, Co-Director, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

Humans across the world face the problem of how to mitigate risk and manage limited resources. Sharing systems used by small-scale societies, such as the Maasai of East Africa, create networks of resource transfers that reduce the risk associated with ecological volatility and other shocks without requiring centralized control over resource distribution. These sharing systems often use the criteria of transferring resources based on the need of the recipient.

This briefing was supported in part through a partnership with The Human Generosity Project.

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November 17, 2014 – Institutional Roles in Meeting Environmental Needs of the Colorado River

Panelists

  • Sandra Postel, Global Water Policy Project, Freshwater Fellow, National Geographic Society
  • Kathryn Sorensen, Director, Water Services, City of Phoenix
  • Jonathan Koppell, Dean and Professor, College of Public Programs, Arizona State University
  • Rhett Larson, Associate Professor of Law, Sandra Day O’Connor College of Law, Arizona State University
  • Grady Gammage, Jr., Moderator and Senior Research Fellow, Morrison Institute for Public Policy, Arizona State University

Joining the panel, special guest Sandra Postel, who directs the independent Global Water Policy Project, and lectures, whites and consults on global issues and leads the National Geographic’s Change the Course campaign. The panel discussed the role of institutions in managing the Colorado river to support a range of ecosystem services including meeting the environmental demands of riparian areas and restoring the wetlands of the river’s delta.

This briefing was supported in part through a partnership with Barrett, The Honors College and Arizona Science Center.

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October 27, 2014 – Better environmental decisions: We all want them, but how do we get them?

Speaker

  • Joe Arvai, Professor and Svare Chair in Applied Decision Research, University of Calgary

Over the last several years, we have witnessed an explosion of interest in the science of judgment and decision-making. Bestsellers like Predictably Irrational and Thinking, Fast and Slow have provided engaging summaries of research on how people make choices. However, applications of this research have struggled to keep pace. This is especially true when we think about problems (and opportunities) that demand what could be termed “active decision support.” Dr. Arvai talked about research conducted in his lab at the University of Calgary, to develop and test decision-aiding tools.

This talk was held in partnership with the Center for Biodiversity Outcomes.

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October 1, 2014 – Extreme Climate Events: Heat and its Impact on Health

Panelists

  • Nancy Selover, State Climatologist, Arizona State Climate Office and Research Professor, Arizona State University
  • Sharon Harlan, Professor, School of Human Evolution and Social Change, Arizona State University
  • Mikhail Chester, Assistant Professor, School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment, Arizona State University
  • Brande Mead, Human Services Program Manager, Maricopa Association of Governments
  • Vjollca Berisha, Sr. Epidemiologist, Maricopa County
  • Anne Reichman, Moderator and Program Manager, Sustainable Cities Network, Arizona State University

The risk of climate extremes is likely to intensify with the impacts of climate change, leading to efforts to enhance resilience and capacity to adapt. Throughout the year, we will discuss the possible nature of future extreme events and strategies to prepare and cope with hotter temperatures, increased fire frequency, extreme floods, and diminishing water supplies with our science, planning, and policy experts.

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2013-2014 Water/Climate Briefings

Communicating Sustainability in Complex Systems for Public Policy

March 5, 2014 – Arizona Water Supply Sustainability: In-state Water Transfers

Panelists

  • Michael J. Lacey, Director, Arizona Department of Water Resources
  • Patrick L. Morgan, Manager, Yuma Mesa Irrigation and Drainage District
  • Paul Muthart, General Manager, Pasquinelli Produce Co., Yuma, Arizona
  • Dave D. White, Co-director, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University
  • Ray Quay, Moderator and Director of Stakeholder Relations, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University
  • Welcome by Jonathan Koppell, Dean of the College of Public Programs and the Lattie and Elva, Coor Presidential Chair in the School of Public Affairs

Moving water from one area of Arizona to another has the potential to create controversies, especially if the area from which the water is being transferred has existing water uses and economies built on that water supply. In the Arizona Department of Water Resources report, “Arizona’s Next Century: A Strategic Vision for Water Supply Sustainability”, it is suggested that in-state water transfers will play a strategic role in Arizona’s sustainable water future. Yet, the report suggests that a comprehensive analysis of water transfers is needed to better understand their role in our water future and their secondary benefits and impacts. In this Water/Climate Briefing, our panelists will used Yuma County as a case study to begin identifying the issues about water transfers that we need to better understand and what type of further dialogue and research is needed.

February 5, 2014 – Communicating Complex Information to Enhance Decision Making

Panelists

  • Andy Terrey, Project Coordinator, Water Resource Department, City of Phoenix
  • Erik Johnston, Associate Professor of Policy Informatics, School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University
  • Manjana Milkoreit, Postdoctoral Fellow, Walton Sustainability Solutions Initiative, Arizona State University
  • Dave White, Moderator and Co-Director, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

Complexity is an inescapable aspect of environmental decision making as individuals and institutions try to make informed choices with complex and uncertain information. One major challenge stems from the need to communicate complexity and frame information in a way that is relevant and useful for decision makers. In this Water/Climate Briefing, our panelists will discuss techniques – such as information products/simulation models, scenarios, and decisional games – for communicating complexity in policy and governance processes for water sustainability and climate change adaptation. Panelists will describe examples at multiple scales – from water management in Phoenix to global climate change negotiations – that illustrate the challenges and opportunities of communicating complexity.

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December 2, 2013 – Visualizing Climate Change to Develop Local Solutions

Keynote Speaker

  • Stephen R. J. Sheppard, Ph.D., ASLA, Professor, Director of Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), University of British Columbia

How do we communicate and visually demonstrate the invisible threat of climate change in our local communities?

In his recent book, Visualizing Climate Change: A Guide to Visual Communication of Climate Change and Developing Local Solutions, Dr. Stephen Sheppard demonstrates how we can use climate change visualizations to assist decision makers and inspire a call to action.

Using dramatic visual imagery such as 3D and 4D visualizations of future landscapes, community mapping, and iconic photographs, extensive color imagery explains how climate change works where we live, and reveals how we often conceal, misinterpret, or overlook the evidence of climate change impacts and our carbon usage that causes them.

Dr. Sheppard received a BA/MA in Agricultural and Forest Sciences from Oxford, a MSc. in Forestry at the University of British Columbia, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Planning at University of California, Berkeley. Considered an expert in visualization, Sheppard has over 30 years experience in environmental assessment and public participation internationally.

VisualizingClimateChangeSheppard teaches in sustainable landscape planning, aesthetics, and visualization in the Faculty of Forestry and Landscape Architecture programme at UBC. He received a BA/MA in Agricultural and Forest Sciences at Oxford, a MSc. in Forestry at UBC, and a Ph.D. in Environmental Planning at UC. Berkeley.

He directs the Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning (CALP), an interdisciplinary research group using perception-testing and immersive/interactive visualization to support public awareness and collaborative planning on sustainability issues. He has over 30 years’ experience in environmental assessment and public participation internationally.

He has written or co-written two books on visual simulation, and co-edited “Forests and Landscapes: Linking Ecology, Sustainability, and Aesthetics”, Volume 6 in the IUFRO Research series. Current research interests lie in perceptions of climate change, the aesthetics of sustainability, and visualization theory and ethics.

For more information about Dr. Sheppard:
UBC Forestry Profile
Collaborative for Advanced Landscape Planning

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November 6, 2013 – Extreme Climate Events: Long-term Drought in the Southwest

Guest Speaker

  • Iris Grossmann, Ph.D., Research Scientist at Carnegie Mellon’s Center for Climate and Energy Decision Making (CEDM)

In this talk, Grossmann examines droughts in the Southwest to demonstrate that extreme weather events are not stationary over time, with the impacts of global warming and multi-decadal climate variability. Given the magnitude of the projected impacts, she recommends that water managers explicitly incorporate both global warming and multi-decadal variability into their long-term planning.

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October 16, 2013 – Effective Communication of Scenarios and Scenario Analysis for Decision Making

Panelists

  • Charles A. Cullom, Manager, Colorado River Programs, Central Arizona Project
  • Arnim Wiek, Associate Professor, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
  • Wally R. Wilson, Chief Hydrologist, Water Resources Management, Tucson Water
  • Ray Quay, Moderator, Director of Stakeholder Relations, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

Scenarios are one method to describe the complexity and uncertainty inherent within the management of complex systems. The development and analysis of these scenarios is an effective method to synthesize simple facts about a system’s complexity and uncertainty that can be used as a guide for decision making. Our panelists will focus on how to communicate effectively scenarios and scenario analysis to a wide audience of the general public, policy professionals, and political decision makers in order to facilitate effective and sustainable system management.

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DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – October 16, 2013 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

September 4, 2013 – Challenges of Communicating Sustainability in Complex Systems for Public Policy

Panelists

  • Jonathan Koppell, Dean, College of Public Programs, Lattie and Elva Coor Presidential Chair, School of Public Affairs, Arizona State University
  • Michael Schoon, Assistant Professor, Environmental Policy, School of Sustainability, Arizona State University
  • Doug Toy, Water Regulatory Affairs Manager, City of Chandler
  • Dave White, Moderator, Co-Director, Decision Center for a Desert City, Arizona State University

In our first Water/Climate Briefing for the 2013-2014 academic year, DCDC set the stage for a wide-ranging discussion of critical issues in the realms of science and policy for this year’s theme: Communicating Sustainability in Complex Systems for Public Policy.

Our panelists explored:
  • Understanding sustainability and complex systems
  • Communicating sustainability and climate change for public policy
  • Design of governance arrangements to transcend political borders
  • Design and administration of complex organizations
  • The role of global governance organizations in sustainability
  • Incorporating complexity into water resources decision making
  • Innovative tools for communicating complexity for public policy

DCDC Water/Climate Briefing – September 4, 2013 from DCDC@ASU on Vimeo.

September 2011-May 2013 Water/Climate Briefing Archive