Drought -- National Drought Mitigation Center


Date of this Version



Weather, Climate, and Society 5:27-42.


U.S. Government Work


Many decadal climate prediction efforts have been initiated under phase 5 of the World Climate Research Programme Coupled Model Intercomparison Project. There is considerable ongoing discussion about model deficiencies, initialization techniques, and data requirements, but not much attention is being given to decadal climate information (DCI) needs of stakeholders for decision support. Here, the authors report the results of exploratory activities undertaken to assess DCI needs in water resources and agriculture sectors, using the Missouri River basin as a case study. This assessment was achieved through discussions with 120 stakeholders.

Stakeholders’ awareness of decadal dry and wet spells and their societal impacts in the basin are described, and stakeholders’ DCI needs and potential barriers to their use of DCI are enumerated. The authors find that impacts, including economic impacts, of decadal climate variability (DCV) on water and agricultural production in the basin are distinctly identifiable and characterizable. Stakeholders have clear notions about their needs for DCI and have offered specific suggestions as to how these might be met. However, while stakeholders are eager to have climate information, including decadal climate outlooks (DCOs), there are many barriers to the use of such information. The first and foremost barrier is that the credibility ofDCOs is yet to be established. Second, the nature of institutional rules and regulations, laws, and legal precedents that pose obstacles to the use of DCOs must be better understood and means to modify these, where possible, must be sought. For the benefit of climate scientists, these and other stakeholder needs are also articulated in this paper.