Cooperative Institute for Climate & Satellites - Maryland


Climate Outreach, Education, and Community Engagement at the Climate Program Office

Research Topic: Education, Training, and Outreach
Task Leader: Alison Stevens
CICS Scientist: Alison Stevens
Sponsor: OAR CPO
Published Date: 9/28/2017



The Climate Program Office (CPO) works to develop and engage a broad user community for climate products, services, data, and information through communication, education, and outreach efforts. To this end, CPO will benefit from enhanced internal and external partnerships, stakeholder engagement, and development of products that help disseminate information. These efforts require strong communication, writing, and interpersonal skills, which match well with Alison Stevens’ experience, education, and background.


In FY16, Ms. Stevens accomplished several tasks to support communication and outreach efforts of CPO. She developed several internal communication products including Hot Items and Three Things Memos to inform OAR, NOAA, and DOC leadership of research and program accomplishments and upcoming events. To reach the external community, including funded scientists and the climate-interested public, she produced news articles for the CPO website and liaised with the CPO CEE Division and OAR communications to share higher impact items on and the NOAA Research website. She also developed concise info sheets, including one about the newly funded NOAA S2S Prediction Task Force, as a handout for conferences, workshops, and as a source of information on the CPO website. Furthermore, she helped edit, format, and print reports developed and organized by CPO and CPO-funded scientists to share and distribute at conferences, workshops, meetings, and on the CPO website. To reach broader and less technical audiences, Ms. Stevens worked with the CEE Division to produce Featured Image Stories for highlighting CPO-funded research. These stories include a key image representative of the research findings. Ms. Stevens applied her data visualization skills to help develop easily digestible and visually pleasing maps to accompany the Featured Image Stories.

To better engage CPO-funded scientists, Ms. Stevens initiated a targeted outreach plan in FY16. With the help of the Program Managers, she identified key scientists to reach out to. She scheduled interviews with the identified scientists to cultivate a personal relationship with each of them, learn more about their research, and inform them of the types of communication support she can provide. Using the information she gathered during the interviews, she began developing Meet Our Scientist profiles highlighting the CPO-funded scientists, their backgrounds, and their currently funded research. These profiles have been published on the NOAA Research website, increasing the visibility of CPO and its funded scientists.


Figure 1. Screenshot of Meet Our Scientist profile highlighting Jason Otkin on the NOAA Research Website.

To help to continue to diversify the communications products used to publicize CPO-funded research and to better engage the external community, Ms. Stevens proposed the idea of developing an Esri Story Map. She published her first story map for CPO in FY16 on, which describes the evolution of the recent Texas Drought and highlights CPO-funded research related to drought. This story map was so well received that the NIDIS Program asked to partner with Ms. Stevens and her colleagues to develop a series of additional drought story maps. She will continue to develop these additional story maps with NIDIS in FY17.


Figure 2. Screenshot of the story map about the evolution of the recent Texas Drought.

To help share the products she developed, Ms. Stevens created new pages for the CPO website and updated the website with news articles, Meet Our Scientist profiles, and other upcoming and recent events and workshops. In addition, she maintained and improved the MAPP Program newsletter, incorporating feedback received and compiling material to include in the quarterly issues. Furthermore, she liaised with the CEE Division and OAR communications to share her news articles and other products and upcoming events on and NOAA Research social media.   

Ms. Stevens also joined a USGCRP working group, the Indicators Interagency Working Group, in FY16 to improve the look, feel, and utility of the USGCRP National Climate Indicators System. She contributed ideas and provided feedback on the individual indicator pages as well as the website as a whole.

Planned work        

  • Develop and support pathways for enhanced Climate Program Office/MAPP engagement with Congress, NOAA leadership, and the scientific community by liaising with staff in the CPO Communication, Education and Engagement Division (CEE), and OAR and NOAA public affairs and communications offices.
  • Help organize and facilitate communications and engagement with investigators through workshops and other activities.
  • Publicize the major accomplishments of the MAPP and Assessments programs and make the community aware of ongoing activities and how to engage in them by liaising with staff in the CEE Division and OAR communications office.
  • Work with the CPO Assessments program to establish relationships with NOAA and interagency elements critical to the development and production of the next National Climate Assessment.
  • Work with MAPP-funded principal investigators and NCEI staff to better translate and communicate their significant findings and activities to a broader audience via websites, social media, and other means; facilitate the integration of their research results into useful activities and products.
  • Help develop and advance new initiatives and directions related to the National Climate Indicators System, including expanding the stakeholder and producer base for Indicators and involving the external community more actively.
  • Work with MAPP, NCEP/NWS (e.g. the Climate Test Bed) and partners in other NOAA Line Offices (NMFS) to improve the flow of research results on prediction systems and models to operations and applications; enhance the communication from operational needs to research.
  • Develop materials (written as well as graphical content) for websites to translate and publicize research results.
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