Study Design Guideline

DON’T start from scratch; leverage the work and expertise of others


Many resources are already available.

In the past two decades, the number of studies and people working on applying climate change information to water management and planning has increased (EPA and CDWR, 2011; Reclamation, 2013; EEA, 2017). Therefore, those just beginning do not need to start from scratch. There is a steadily growing resource of climate change information, guidance, case studies, and networks to connect to. Increasingly more organizations, both public and private sector, exist that serve to connect practitioners with researchers to generate more deci- sion-relevant information (for example, see the diversity of organizations involved in creating guidance documents in Table 1 below). These efforts are underway and increasing in many arenas (e.g., public utilities, federal and state agencies, private sector, non-governmental organizations) throughout the world. Because climate science requires complex models that may not be well-understood by water managers, and climate scientists are unfamiliar with challenges of planning, designing, operating and maintaining water systems, building partnerships, trust, and shared resources between information producers and users is critical, and an increasing number of guidance documents exist on how to effectively foster these partnerships (Jacobs, 2002; Ferguson et al., 2014; Addor et al., 2015; Beier et al., 2016).

Frequently Asked Questions

How to discover who is doing what, where?

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) provides a global perspective on the state of climate science (IPCC 2014a,b). In the U.S., the U.S. Global Change Research Program has compiled U.S.-based research by sector and region in the National Climate Assessment (Melillo et al. 2014; NRC 2017). Other countries have similar regional assessments (e.g., Warren and Lemmen 2014; EEA 2017). For local-scale studies related to water in the U.S., the Bureau of Reclamation has three editions of a literature synthesis on climate implications for water and environmental resources that covers 17 western States (Reclamation 2009; 2011b; 2013). The Climate Change Handbook for Regional Water Planning has a summary of climate change information relevant to integrated regional water management planning (EPA and CWDR 2011), reviewing 167 articles. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has 21 regional reports that summarize hydrological and climate changes and their subsequent impacts on USACE projects ( In Europe, the Copernicus Climate Change Service (C3S) provides case studies and access to climate information for water management through two proof of concept projects: SWICCA, Service for Water Indicators in Climate Change Adaptation and EDgE, End-to-end Demonstrator for improved decision making in the water sector in Europe (

We reference these reports as starting points to navigate to the many universities, national centers, federal, state, and local agencies, and other entities working on these challenges. The organizations and authors of these reports and the literature they cite provide insights into who is doing what, where.

Where does one get climate data?

For a better understanding of large-scale regional changes, the reports mentioned above (e.g., IPCC 2014a,b; Melillo et al. 2014; EEA 2017) provide regional maps. Additional maps and links to downloadable data are located in many places (e.g.,;; Section 4 in Reclamation 2016). Notably, some locations distribute raw data, and others cater to specific uses, which may not be appropriate for other applications. In practice, products are often selected because they are easy to access, in a convenient format, or are otherwise familiar to the user – yet these criteria do not necessarily align with what would be the most appropriate (Barsugli et al. 2013).

Path Forward

Many resources and organizations exist that can help one better understand climate change information and approaches to using it; consult them to leverage past work and connect with local experts.

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Return to list of DOS AND DON'TS

Text orginally published in Vano et al., Climate Services, 2018


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