About the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Program
The RISA program builds relationships that help local decision makers and researchers collaborate on adapting to climate change. Through regionally-focused and interdisciplinary research and engagement teams, RISA expands the Nation's capacity to adapt and become resilient to extreme weather events and climate change. RISA teams accomplish this through applied and co-developed research and partnerships with communities. A central tenet of the RISA program is that learning about climate adaptation and resilience is facilitated by and sustained across a wide range of experts, practitioners, and the public. As such, the RISA program supports a network of people, prioritizing wide participation in learning by doing, learning through adapting, and managing risk with uncertain information.
Early decades of the program focused on understanding the use of climate information at regional scales (e.g., through experimental seasonal outlooks), improving predictions and scenarios, building capacity for drought early warning, and advancing the science of climate impact assessments. Much of this work is now the focus of other federal programs. More recently, emphasis has shifted to address the growing urgency to advance approaches that tackle the complex societal issues surrounding adaptation planning, implementation, and building community resilience that incorporate the intersection of multiple natural hazards and social stressors. To do so, RISA continues to prioritize and fund collaborative approaches that incorporate multiple knowledge sources and integrate social, physical, and natural science, resulting in long-term support of and increased capacity for communities. In addition, RISA supports cutting-edge social science on the impacts of climate change on communities, challenges and opportunities for adaptation, and inclusive methods of engagement. As the adaptation community in the United States advances and evolves, RISA seeks to support new creative, solution-oriented approaches that are both responsive to communities and that integrate across silos of scientific knowledge and expertise.
Central to achieving the RISA mission are:
- Regional Relevance, Local Expertise: RISA teams carry out a variety of projects focused on regional issues related to climate change and extreme weather. These projects span disciplinary, sectoral, environmental, and social concerns, but are rooted in bottom-up expressions of local need. In order to build trusted partnerships to address these needs, RISA teams are composed of place-based experts from universities, non-profits, and other organizations commanding local knowledge and engaged with community solutions.
- Integrated Scientific Approaches: RISA teams generate cutting-edge and applied interdisciplinary research on the impacts of climate on communities. RISA scientists develop unique ways of bringing together natural, physical, and social sciences around complex climatic concerns related to human-environmental interactions. RISA teams generate new scientific knowledge of how broader contexts for risk and resilience shape the successful implementation of adaptation strategies, resiliency plans, and risk-reducing activities. This work includes understanding the social and cultural impacts of climate change, governance structures, laws, and fiscal policies that shape climate adaptation and implementation processes, and how this impacts equitable adaptation strategies.
- Knowledge-to-Action Partnerships: RISA teams engage in co-production and other processes for working across organizational lines, and include scientists, cooperative extension and outreach professionals, local planners and decision makers, community members, and communicators to ensure knowledge-to-action tools, technologies, and other products that increase capacity for making decisions in a rapidly changing environment. The experimental and innovative nature of RISAs extends beyond “snapshot” assessments, tools, or other products alone. The dialogue between scientists and stakeholders also provides an ideal setting for social scientists and outreach experts, working with practitioners, to evaluate how well science is informing societal outcomes.
- A National Network of Resilience Researchers and Adaptation Science Specialists: Relationships across RISAs ensure that information and expertise are shared between regions to develop national capacity to adapt to climate change. This network not only spans the RISAs but also draws upon other NOAA entities and federally-funded state and regional partners, where relevant. This network ensures best practices, data access, coordinated efforts, and leveraged funding. RISAs also build the network through education and professional development, engaging a variety of early career professionals, including students across undergraduate, graduate, post-graduate, and continuing education/professional levels in learning and mentoring activities that equip them to effectively address climate variability and change in the workforce.
The RISA Program supports research projects that address climate-sensitive issues of concern to decision makers and policy planners at a regional level. There are currently 11 active RISA teams across the country.
- Alaska Center for Climate Assessment and Policy (ACCAP)
- California-Nevada Climate Applications Program (CNAP)
- Carolinas RISA
- Climate Assessment for the Southwest (CLIMAS)
- Consortium on Climate Risk in the Urban Northeast (CCRUN)
- Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (GLISA)
- Mid-Atlantic Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments Center (MARISA)
- Northwest Climate Resilience Collaborative (NCRC)
- Pacific RISA
- Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP)
- Western Water Assessment (WWA)
Justice, Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion Statement
The RISA program upholds the principles of justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion in the research and work funded across the network. Ensuring justice and equity means paying particular attention to populations most vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, which are often low-income communities, communities of color, indigenous and tribal communities, those already overburdened by pollution, those who lack economic or social opportunity, and people facing disenfranchisement. Diversity here is defined as a collection of individual attributes that together help organizations achieve objectives. Inclusion is defined as a culture that connects each person to the larger organizing structure. Promoting justice, equity, diversity, and inclusion improves the creativity, productivity, and vitality of the communities in which the RISA program engages.