Georgia Climate Research Roadmap identifies state's top 40 climate research questions

May 23, 2018

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A scene from Georgia’s Jekyll Island. “Oceans and coasts” is one of 12 categories included in the Georgia Climate Research Roadmap.

A multi-disciplinary team of experts from across the state has developed the Georgia Climate Research Roadmap, a first-of-its-kind list of 40 key research questions that can help policymakers and practitioners better understand and address climate change in Georgia.  

The Roadmap, published May 23 in the journal Environmental Management, is an initiative of the Georgia Climate Project, a state-wide consortium founded by Emory University, the Georgia Institute of Technology and the University of Georgia to improve understanding of climate impacts and solutions in Georgia.

The Roadmap’s 40 questions focus on how climate change will impact Georgia and options for dealing with those impacts across themes such as water, the coast, agriculture, health and energy. Several questions address issues related to equity and at-risk communities. View an interactive version of the Roadmap.

“By bringing these questions together in one place, we are trying to make it easier to identify high-impact research opportunities that will benefit decision-makers,” says Emory University’s Daniel Rochberg, a co-author of the paper. “The group that came together to produce the Roadmap is a great indicator of the expertise we have across the state on these issues.”

Rochberg is chief strategy officer for the Climate@Emory initiative and an instructor in the Rollins School of Public Health and Emory’s Department of Environmental Sciences. Rochberg has also worked for the U.S. State Department as special assistant to the lead U.S. climate negotiators under presidents Bush and Obama.

To develop the Roadmap, a team of 41 co-authors from academia, government, non-governmental organizations and industry worked through a list of 180 candidate questions submitted by experts across the state through an online solicitation process.

“To our knowledge, we are the first to use this novel research prioritization methodology on such a complex cross-cutting issue at the state level,” says co-author Marilyn Brown of the Georgia Institute of Technology. 

“We see this as a really important first step,” adds co-author Patricia Yager of the University of Georgia.  “Now that we have outlined these questions, we hope to see researchers across the state digging into these in much more detail.”   

“This type of information is going to be really important for policymakers” says co-author David D’Onofrio of the Atlanta Regional Commission.  “On our side, we’re already making plans to do more work on one of the big infrastructure questions by identifying vulnerabilities in our transportation system to climate change and extreme weather.”

The Roadmap will also serve as the basis for a climate information portal that can provide easy access to information on climate impacts and solutions in Georgia. Jennifer Kline, a co-author from the Georgia Department of Natural Resources, notes “a tool like this Roadmap can really broaden our engagement on these questions around the state.” 

The 40 questions in the Roadmap are grouped into the following categories:

  • weather and climate
  • ecosystems in Georgia
  • oceans and coasts
  • agriculture, forestry and food
  • water
  • energy and transportation;
  • human health
  • communities and infrastructure
  • human values, social equity and environmental justice
  • mitigation and adaptation across multiple sectors and scales 

Visit the Georgia Climate Project website to see the full list of questions.