Making short-term climate forecasts useful: Linking science and action

James Buizer, Katharine Jacobs, David Cash

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

74 Scopus citations


This paper discusses the evolution of scientific and social understanding that has led to the development of knowledge systems supporting the application of El Niño-Southern Oscillation (ENSO) forecasts, including the development of successful efforts to connect climate predictions with sectoral applications and actions "on the groundâ€. The evolution of "boundary-spanning activities to connect science and decisionmaking is then discussed, setting the stage for a report of outcomes from an international workshop comprised of producers, translators, and users of climate predictions. The workshop, which focused on identifying critical boundary-spanning features of successful boundary organizations, included participants from Australia, Hawaii, and the Pacific Islands, the US Pacific Northwest, and the state of Ceará in northwestern Brazil. Workshop participants agreed that boundary organizations have multiple roles including those of information broker, convenor of forums for engagement, translator of scientific information, arbiter of access to knowledge, and exemplar of adaptive behavior. Through these roles, boundary organizations will ensure the stability of the knowledge system in a changing political, economic, and climatic context. The international examples reviewed in this workshop demonstrated an interesting case of convergent evolution, where organizations that were very different in origin evolved toward similar structures and individuals engaged in them had similar experiences to share. These examples provide evidence that boundary organizations and boundary-spanners fill some social/institutional roles that are independent of culture.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)4597-4602
Number of pages6
JournalProceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America
Issue number17
StatePublished - Apr 26 2016


  • Boundary organization
  • Decision support
  • El Nio-Southern Oscillation
  • Knowledge

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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