I wish more natural scientists could discover the benefits of collaborating with social scientists, stakeholders and decision-makers on the ground. I also wish that funding organizations could be more open to multidisciplinary projects.
I am a natural scientist. My work relies on the analysis of observations, reanalysis and outputs from climate models. Some years ago, I started to get frustrated, because I could not see the direct link from what I did as a researcher to people on the ground. I had been worked on enhancing understanding of processes such as tropical cyclones, snowfall, clouds and monsoons in a range of regions.
But suddenly, I felt that my research was lacking something, and I started to learn from social science researchers. My questions were: How can my research be useful to people impacted by climate change? What kind of information about the climate is relevant for people trying to adapt to our changing climate? And what do they know, that I might be missing?
I started a research project with a social geographer (R. Chakaraborty) where we investigated how climate change can impact agriculture in the Himalayas. This gave me a whole new perspective on climate research. During this project, I finally found the connection between climate models and people on the ground, thanks to the social scientists.
I understood, for example, that even if the monsoon is providing most of the precipitation in this region, focusing on this season only is not is not enough for the farmers. They needed more information about their planting and harvesting seasons during spring and winter, while the monsoon occurs during their summer. In my climate simulations, information about each season is available, so I could provide this information.
During this project, I also understood that natural and social scientist need to work in closer collaboration. Natural scientists tend to work on large spatial scales, like a continent or a country, while social scientists tend to work on smaller scales, like a village or a city. In order to make the connection between these scales, we need to work together from the beginning of a project.
In the future, I hope that we, as natural scientists, find ways to increase collaboration with social scientists and people on the ground.
I hope this can contribute to the use of my research to support climate adaptation. Furthermore, I wish 2019 to be the start of many years with better access to funding for transdisciplinary research projects.