It feels a bit like being in a parallel universe and/or deja vu all over again: attending a meeting with over 200 people focusing on climate, sharing creative, interdisciplinary insights on how best to serve society and convey the challenges of changing climate to non-technical audiences. And they both have the word “tri” in the title.
This one is the Tri-State Western Consortium EPSCoR being held at the Santa Ana Pueblo in New Mexico. Funded by NSF and linking through their new Western Consortium website and related activities to the separate EPSCoR climate projects in Nevada, Idaho and New Mexico, this effort focuses mainly, but not exclusively, on the climate challenges in the intermountain West. Being from Colorado (not an EPSCoR state,) I felt like a spy among western neighbors.
There are many similarities in the discussions– especially in terms of identifying effective practices to communicate climate and global change through education, communications and outreach channels. But there are some differences. This meeting has included side discussions about cyberinfrastructure and data portals and included many dozens of graduate students who shared their research through an impressive poster session with a wide spectrum of interdisciplinary perspectives.
A few of the many highlights: meeting some of the talented people from Boise State’s geoscience group, seeing a demo of the webcams from the Nevada EPSCoR’s research sites which will soon be going live, hearing John Fleck, a science writer for the Albuquerque Journal and others discuss the challenges of communicating climate science to non-technical audiences.
Questions that arise in thinking about possible tri-agency and tri-state cross pollinations include:
-Where might there be overlap and synergies between the two triad efforts? Obviously, regionally focused climate education, communication and outreach is one area of potential collaboration. (Incidentally, some of the students from University of Idaho are focused on storm surges from hurricanes in Miami.)
-How could the work of the Western Consortium be expanded to other intermountain states? (Some are EPSCoR states–meaning they have been identified by NSF as being eligible for additional funding to increase their scientific infrastructure and competitiveness– like Wyoming and Utah, while others, like Colorado are not.)
The NSF investment into the Western Consortium has obvious linkages with related initiatives, such as the Western Water Assessment and the NSF Climate Change Education Partnership project out of Northern Arizona University on Climate Change Science and Solutions: Creating innovative education tools for Native Americans and other rural communities on the Colorado Plateau.
Heading back north to Colorado shortly, through the upper Rio Grande Valley, one of my favorite parts of the world, and then look forward to seeing the PBS special on Earth: The Operators’ Manual on Sunday night, April 10th and then joining the online discussion about the show on our ICEE Community Forum.