Adaptations to extreme storm events by conservation organizations

Chloe B. Wardropper, Adena R. Rissman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Extreme precipitation events are associated with increased runoff of sediment and nutrients into surface waters, exacerbating water quality problems and creating challenges for soil and water managers. This change in the hydrologic cycle is expected to intensify under future climate change. Soil and water conservation professionals responsible for advising farmers and other land managers are on the front lines of adaptation to these climate change impacts. This study uses a survey of Soil and Water Conservation District staff (n = 260) in the United States Upper Midwest to better understand adaptation planning and implementation and the factors influencing adaptations by public organizations. In contrast to a typical planning-implementation gap finding, our respondents report a greater emphasis on some kinds of adaptation actions over planning. We find that the concerns of individual government employees about climate change have a greater association with adaptation planning strategies (e.g., planning document updates) compared to implemented adaptations on-the-ground (e.g., stream buffer installation). Also, weather projections were being used in conjunction with both adaptation planning and implementation. This study contributes to efforts to open up the black box of adaptation decision-making in the public sector, revealing the important role of individual concerns and information use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)85-101
Number of pages17
JournalClimatic Change
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 30 2019
Externally publishedYes


  • Adaptation
  • Climate change concern
  • Soil and water conservation
  • Weather projections

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Atmospheric Science


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