201 Stephenson Parkway, Suite 2100 Norman, OK 73019

Teleconnections and Telecoupling

Toward Understanding Teleconnections that Influence Ecosystem Resilience


Successful local conservation efforts must account for both local and remote influences, the latter of which can be more difficult to identify and quantify. For example, the hydrological connectivity of central U.S. river systems leads to environmental problems downstream, such as the Mississippi River Delta. Understanding these “teleconnections” and their influence on the ecosystems and ecosystem services of the region can be key to finding management strategies that work.

Our Goals

The goal of this community of practice is twofold. On one hand, we are interested in understanding and describing teleconnections in atmospheric science, with a special focus on the South-Central United States. On the other hand, we are interested in the concept of teleconnections (or Telecoupling) as used in human-nature systems research, with a special focus on integrative approaches analyzing the relationships among subsystems and their effect on the sustainability.

Our Team

Established in October 2018, the Understanding Teleconnections (or Telecoupling) that Influence Ecosystem Resilience team currently has 8 members:

Jennifer Koch, University of Oklahoma (Lead)

Kristine DeLong, Louisiana State University

Jack Friedman, University of Oklahoma

Carrie Leslie, University of Oklahoma

Elinor Martin, University of Oklahoma

Renee McPherson, University of Oklahoma

Greg Sneddon, USGS Wetland & Aquatic Research Center

Robert Rohli, Louisiana State University


Our Projects

Milestones & Next Steps for 2022

Tasks from meeting and accomplishments:

Manuscript Development: The group worked on completing the review of teleconnections titled Impacts of Atmosphere-Ocean Teleconnections on the South-Central United States. This effort is led by Dr. Rohli and the manuscript will be submitted to the journal Frontiers in Earth Science in mid-late spring.

Review the work of Carrie Leslie (Ph.D. student, Sociology, Univ. of Oklahoma) who has been funded by the SCCASC to support the Teleconnections & Telecoupling CoP in a literature review of teleconnections, telecoupling, globalization, and other similar concepts from both the natural and social sciences.

Discussed the continuing challenges associated with SCALING across physical and human-ecological research and concepts.

The CoP discussion of MESOSCALE systems and interactions as a potential solution to bridge micro- and macro-scale systems. We discussed how this might lead us to new insights regarding how to connect 1) atmospheric processes, 2) land processes, 3) policies, and 4) economic flows. Computing power and data availability make this feasible.

Discussed applying the T&T CoP to the Mississippi River Basin by considering a number of teleconnection and telecoupling concepts and processes as related to the recent Future of Aquatic Flows initiative.

Proposed renaming the group. It was proposed to rename the group from “Teleconnections” to “Teleconnections & Telecoupling” in order to encourage greater interest and participation from social scientists and ecologists.

Planning for the upcoming/next year:

Completing the two articles in preparation: This includes both 1) a review of climate-based teleconnections scholars and 2) a concept/review paper that examines how different disciplines have used a number of related concepts — teleconnections (climate science), telecoupling (socio-ecological and ecosystems), and globalization (primarily in the social sciences) — that we argue should be brought into conversation with each other.

Reach out to potential new group members to expand the membership of this CoP. As initially conceived, the original “Teleconnections” group was heavily driven by a Climate Science core of members. However, increasingly, the CoP is beginning to imagine the multiple, cross-scale challenges that might allow for the integration of climate, ecological, and social processes that might better address the challenges facing the SC CASC (and beyond).

Maintain/Reinvigorate regular meetings ensuring that, in the Spring semester, we return to a regular schedule of meetings (~ every 4-6 weeks).

Seek additional funding to continue to support Carrie Leslie in her work on this project. Carrie was an extraordinary asset to the CoP and shows extremely high potential to become a leader in her field and would both benefit from and provide great benefit to the CoP.

Milestones & Next Steps for 2021

Since August of 2020, we have been focused on two larger activities, outside of meetings every six weeks:

National Science Foundation (NSF) Proposal: The group developed and submitted a proposal to the NSF Sustainable Regional Systems Research Networks RFP titled SRS RN: Building a Transboundary, Whole-basin Collaborative Research Network in the Rio Grande/Rio Bravo.

Manuscript Development: The group has been working on a review of teleconnections titled Impacts of Atmosphere-Ocean Teleconnections on the South-Central United States. Solid progress has been made and the plan is to continue working on the review over the 2021 summer. Also, we submitted a request to receive support for a graduate student to support the literature review on the use of teleconnection concepts in human-environment systems research.

Coming up: We have two major goals for the upcoming summer: (1) Continuing to work on the review on Atmosphere-Ocean Teleconnections on the South-Central United States, and (2) developing a first draft of a manuscript on the use of teleconnection concepts in human-environment systems research.