The Southern Climate Impacts Planning Program (SCIPP) is a south central United States focused climate hazards and research program whose mission is to increase the region’s resiliency and level of preparedness for weather extremes now and in the future. The area we serve includes the 6-state region of Oklahoma, Texas, Arkansas, Louisiana, Tennessee, and Mississippi. From severe storms, flooding, drought, hurricanes and storm surge, heat waves, wildfires, to winter storms, the South experiences among the nation’s most extensive collection of climate-related hazards with many southern states ranking at or near the top of the lists in disaster declarations and billion dollar disasters.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), SCIPP states are among the most disaster declared in the United States. As of early 2013, all 6 SCIPP states were ranked within the top 15 most disaster declared states across the country, with 4 of those states being ranked in the top 10. The SCIPP region also suffers from a frequent recurrence of droughts, which are not accounted for in FEMA disaster declarations. Regardless of the methods of designating disasters, SCIPP aims to bring equal attention to all major climate hazards through comprehensive historical datasets.

SCIPP research is conducted through active engagement and partnership with a large community of regional, state, and local stakeholder groups. SCIPP combines the expertise of climate scientists, meteorologists, and geographers with the everyday experience of decision makers and planners through frequent workshops, meetings, interviews, and surveys. The goal of the two-way interactions is to allow a transfer of climate science and information to decision makers, while likewise allowing decision makers the opportunity to reveal their challenges, concerns, and needs for climate hazard information.

SCIPP is a Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISA) team supported by the Climate Program Office at the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). We strive to continue the successful model developed by other RISA teams across the United States in performing application-based climate research that actively engages participation, interaction, and feedback from a diverse community of stakeholders region-wide.

Mission Statement

The mission of SCIPP is to:

  1. Increase the awareness of and preparedness for southern U.S. climate hazards for both present day and future climate conditions through improved local hazard mitigation planning;
  2. Actively engage stakeholder groups to promote increased two-way knowledge transfer between climate scientists and decision makers;
  3. Provide local, state, and regional decision makers with climate hazard data that is comprehensive, accurate, and easily accessible; and
  4. Identify new, critical areas of applied climate research for the southern U.S. as technologies, research, and knowledge evolves.

RISA Program

The Regional Integrated Science Assessments (RISA) Program is a National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) funded set of regional projects focused on strengthening the linkage between climate sciences and societal impacts. The program began in the mid 1990s to establish an increased level of communication between climate researchers and decision makers to enhance preparedness and mitigation for climate change. In particular, RISA programs were developed to provide focus to regional climate variability issues such as water availability, agriculture, coastal issues, public health, wildfire vulnerability, coping with drought, energy issues, and many other areas of focus. Through RISA’s stakeholder-focused research, scientists and decision makers have successfully come together to openly discuss climate issues, share knowledge, and identify areas requiring more research and attention in the future. As of early 2013, there are eleven currently funded RISA projects spanning much of the western and southern United States, as well as Alaska, and Hawaii.

Research Partners

SCIPP is a collaborative effort between the Oklahoma Climatological Survey (OCS) and South-Central Climate Science Center (SC-CSC) at the University of Oklahoma, the College of Geography and Anthropology and Southern Regional Climate Center at Louisiana State University, the Department of Geography at Texas A&M University, and the National Drought Mitigation Center. Together, these institutions and organizations combine their expertise in climate, outreach, education, data quality and dissemination, and mapping to address the issues of climate hazards across the southern United States.

The Oklahoma Climatological Survey was established in 1980 to serve as the climate office for the state of Oklahoma. In addition to providing climate services, outreach, and data, OCS operates the Oklahoma Mesonet, which is a state-wide network of 120 automated surface observing stations. OCS is a research unit of the College of Atmospheric and Geographic Sciences at the University of Oklahoma (OU) and is located in the National Weather Center (NWC) on the OU research campus. OCS’s collocation with numerous federal and university organizations at the NWC allows for numerous collaborative research opportunities with many other experts in the atmospheric sciences.