Context matters: Context-related drivers of and barriers to climate information use

Julia A. Flagg, Christine J. Kirchhoff

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

31 Scopus citations


This review addresses a critical research gap concerning why climate information (CI) is used (or not) and contributes to narrowing the knowledge-action gap to improve climate adaptation. The article reviews research on factors that are endemic to the context of CI use and that can influence whether use happens. It synthesizes factors that promote or impede use at three levels of social aggregation: the micro, meso, and macro levels. The organizing principle of the micro, meso, and macro levels enables a consideration of the nested social layers that comprise the context of CI use. The micro level consists of factors at the smallest level of social aggregation, individuals who use (or do not use) CI. The meso level consists of larger social aggregates, organizations, with leadership, decision-making processes, and technical and human capacity that influence CI use. Finally, the macro level is comprised of the political environment in which individuals and organizations operate, and which may be more or less supportive of CI use. Though the review is focused on the context of water management, the implications are much broader. A conceptual model is introduced to help explain how context shapes CI use. While the interactions between producers and users and the ways in which users see CI influence whether CI use happens, use only happens if elements in the micro, meso, and macro level contexts align to support use. That is, even when the best conditions for interactions between producers and users exist, these interactions alone may be insufficient in a context that stymies CI use, for political reasons or due to organizational dynamics. By attending to context, this new conceptual model shows where and how to strategically invest in supporting CI use.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1-10
Number of pages10
JournalClimate Risk Management
StatePublished - 2018

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Global and Planetary Change
  • Geography, Planning and Development
  • Atmospheric Science
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law


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