Using Technology to Bring Climate Change Adaptation Research to the Great Lakes Print E-mail
Using Technology to Bring Climate Change Adaptation Research to the Great Lakes

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Featured by NOAA, a member of the U.S. Global Change Research Program

Each month, planners and decision makers in the great lakes can access cutting-edge research on climate change adaptation without ever leaving their offices. The Web-based seminars are helping to inform local and state managers about the potential climate change impacts they need to prepare for—as well as broader issues and solutions.

“This is a fantastic tool for providing information that a lot of people wouldn’t otherwise have,” says Brent Sohngen, professor of environmental economics at Ohio State University and one of the series coordinators. “We’re getting information and research into people’s hands more quickly and effectively than ever before.”

More than 350 people listen in every month to the Global Change, Local Impact webinar series, which was started in 2008 by Ohio State University, Ohio Sea Grant, Old Woman Creek National Estuarine Research Reserve, and other partners.

The hour-a-month series attracts local, state, and federal planners and decision makers, legislative staff members, academics, and private-sector and nonprofit employees.

The webinars are also being used as a teaching tool for secondary education and informal education centers.

Paul Moss, environmental planner with the Sustainable Development Unit of the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency and one of those who regularly logs in to the seminars, says, “This series is helping me learn the best management practices going on around the country.”

Obvious Solution

The idea for the webinars began when a small group at Ohio State University realized “we’ve got some really cool and amazing climate information that’s not getting out for the public to use,” says Jill Jentes Banicki, assistant director for Ohio Sea Grant and Stone Lab.

The obvious solution was the university’s existing webinar technology. The first webinar was viewed by 35 people, Banicki says. Since then, the webinar’s mailing list has grown to more than 23,000 people with over 500 different organizations represented. The focus has been broadened from Ohio to the Great Lakes region, and experts from around the country are invited to present.

So far, 32 webinars have been conducted and archived on topics such as strategies for flood mitigation, communication, and developing climate change policies.

Lunch and Learn

During the lunchtime series, researchers give a presentation for 30 to 40 minutes. Time is left for questions, which are submitted in a chat feature. One of the coordinators moderates the session. The webinars are recorded and archived on a website, and transcriptions are provided. Surveys are conducted after each webinar, and topics for future seminars are based on the attendees’ input. “This is a cost-effective and efficient way to get research information out. A lot of different regions could do this,” notes Sohngen.

Jentes adds, “There are so many coastal organizations that have great research on a wide variety of important topics that aren’t getting into the hands of those who really need it. This is a pretty easy and super-effective way to reach people.”

Coastal Services Magazine cover

For more information about the webinars, please visit the Ohio State University Changing Climate website.

This article was originally published in Coastal Services Magazine, a bimonthly publication from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is available here.