With $5 million in funding from NOAA’s Climate Adaptation Partners (CAP) initiative, the California Nevada Adaptation Program (CNAP), a collaborative initiative between UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and the DRI in Reno, Nevada will work to expand climate research and focus on building adaptation strategies. The program will last five years and aim to empower local communities to use this knowledge to make informed decisions in the face of long-term drought, unprecedented wildfires, and extreme heat impacting public health.
“CNAP has a history of innovative climate science to understand the impact of climate change and working with regional decision makers to improve their understanding for planning and preparedness, “ said Scripps Oceanography climate scientist Julie Kalansky, co-principal investigator and program manager for CNAP. “This new phase will continue the same scientific rigor while building resilience by working with community partners to build climate knowledge and test adaptation approaches.”
CNAP began in 1999 with an emphasis on California climate issues, initially led by Scripps climate scientist Dan Cayan, who continues to serve as a co-principal investigator. In 2011 Scripps Oceanography scientists partnered with DRI to expand the program’s geographic scope to include Nevada. The CNAP program has been instrumental in developing California’s Fourth Climate Change Assessment, the first Nevada Climate Assessment, recommendations for updating fire weather watch systems, analyses of water use and supply in California’s agricultural communities, and more.
“CNAP’s long history in the CAP/RISA program features many accomplishments, including substantial scientific contributions to all five of California’s climate assessments in close partnership with the state government,” says Caitlin Simpson, Program Manager, NOAA Climate Adaptation Partnerships. “CNAP has achieved deep expertise on sea-level rise, drought, water resources, and wildfire planning issues and has closely partnered with a number of federal and nonfederal partners to advance local, state, and regional planning around these issues. The NOAA Climate Program Office is thrilled to fund the California-Nevada Climate Applications Program (CNAP) team for another five years as a part of the CAP/RISA Network.”
The next five years will focus on adaptation, particularly an intentional transition to prepare communities for local-level action that can address regional hazards. Six focus areas will support adaptation needs to address four of the most pressing climate issues in the region: extreme heat, wildfire smoke, coastal flooding, and water scarcity.
As part of the project’s commitment to equity and diversity, it will include a mentorship program within community colleges to prepare the future’s workforce to address climate impacts. A small grants program, Building Capacity through Reciprocity with Tribal Communities, will work to enact community-identified solutions for tribal communities by supporting a Leaders Indigenous Climate Fellowship Program.
“Centering CNAP’s research on adaptation allows us to focus on producing community-centered solutions,” said Tamara Wall, co-principal investigator and research professor of atmospheric science and deputy director of the Western Regional Climate Center at DRI. “Impacts from climate change are expected to amplify in the coming decades, and disadvantaged communities are the least able to manage those impacts without additional support. Our research includes community-partners so that we can adequately understand community needs and concerns and actually improve people’s lives.”
Research Focus Areas
In order to help California prepare a more resilient workforce in the face of growing issues with water availability, CNAP will partner with community colleges in the San Joaquin Valley to create climate-related workforce training opportunities. The goal is to create a more climate-technical workforce to support community adaptation to changes in water availability and climate extremes.
Southern California is lined with some of the most heavily used beaches on the West Coast, and this region is likely to experience increased flooding and erosion due to sea-level rise. CNAP will collaborate with the Climate Science Alliance and others to explore nature-based solutions and Indigenous stewardship as coastal adaptation strategies.
Planned research includes the Southern Nevada Heat Resilience Lab (SNHRL), which will bring together public service providers—including emergency responders and social services workers—with scientific experts on extreme heat. Real-time air temperature sensors will be installed in at-risk neighborhoods within Las Vegas, targeting locations such as public transit stops and buses, cooling centers, places with outdoor laborers, and unhoused communities. Following a trial period in Las Vegas, the project aims to expand local heat sensor networks to rural and Indigenous communities, where heat impacts are less well studied and understood.
Public Health in the Face of Extreme Heat and Wildfire Smoke
California and Northern Nevada are increasingly experiencing extreme weather conditions with overlapping heat waves and intense wildfires. CNAP will explore the public health impacts of these events by directly assessing a sample of households in Washoe County, Nevada. Research will include installing air sensors to monitor heat exposure and air pollution, conducting interviews to understand decision-making under environmentally challenging conditions, and baseline health monitoring.
Understanding Burnout in Climate Change Professionals
Previous CNAP research has shown that climate change professionals are experiencing high rates of burnout, and institutional support isn’t yet providing adequate resources to this population. CNAP will continue this line of study by evaluating the traits that lead to more psychological resiliency among individuals and developing training materials based on the results for the CNAP team and partner networks.
State Climate Assessments
California and Nevada intend to produce new statewide climate assessments within the next five years and CNAP will continue to coordinate among state and local efforts. CNAP will also pilot a mentoring program focused on early-career faculty at universities and colleges in both states.
For additional information about CNAP visit: https://www.dri.edu/cnap/
- Release adapted from DRI