Climatologists aim to expand climate services

Climatologists aim to expand climate services

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Published

3 July 2014

Heidelberg, Germany, 3 July 2014 – Climatologists and other experts are attending the quadrennial meeting of the WMO Commission for Climatology to adopt a 2014-2018 work plan aimed at accelerating national efforts to deliver and use climate services.

The Commission’s 3 -8 July meeting has been preceded by the three-day WMO Technical Conference on Climate Services:  Building on the CLIPS Legacy. The Conference explored how the outputs of the 20-year Climate Information and Prediction Services (CLIPS) project, which concludes next year, will transition into the more recently established Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS).

The CLIPS to GFCS transition

Governments and organizations around the world have collaborated through CLIPS and other forums to build the diverse tools and components needed for delivering operational climate services. They have collected and analyzed data, modeled climate trends and impacts, assessed the needs of their customers, and created new information products. The GFCS now provides a unifying platform to bring together the many components that have been developed separately.

In addition, the growing network of Regional Climate Centers and Regional Climate Outlooks Forums, which were initiated under CLIPS to provide consensus seasonal forecasts, will continue to benefit the GFCS. The CLIPS experience in converting research outputs into operational products and services that support decision making will also inspire further advances under the GFCS.

The wide-ranging presentations on the transition from CLIPS to GFCS addressed the need for improved and sustained observations from both satellites and ground instruments; the rescue, collection, archiving and reanalysis of climate data; improvements to climate models; the design of effective climate services; the specific needs of different kinds of users; the training of experts; the creation of regional mechanisms; research into El Niño and monsoons; interdisciplinary work on predicting dengue risk; how to manage the transition from research to operations; the use of indigenous knowledge; operational seasonal prediction products; the organization of stakeholder dialogues; and much more.

Commission for Climatology

The formal meeting of the WMO Commission for Climatology will consider progress to date; the launch of new initiatives; critical issues such as data management, climate prediction and capacity building; and the adoption of the next four-year work plan. Some of the proposed activities include:

  • ensuring continued advances in collecting, archiving, reanalyzing and managing climate data, including by providing guidance on standards and practices;
  • expanding efforts to rescue international climate data (including by digitizing historical paper-based data);
  • providing further guidance on methodologies and standards for climate monitoring and assessment;
  • advancing climate prediction, including the provision of global seasonal updates and guidance on the continued development of Regional Climate Centres and Regional Climate Outlook Forums;
  • improving the user interface for climate adaptation and risk management;
  • developing capacity, including through education and training; and
  • implementing quality management systems.

Climate services

Climate services provide science-based information and forecasts that empower decision-makers to manage the risks and opportunities of climate variability and change and adapt to climate change. The providers of climate services consult with users to determine what kind of information they need, when and how often, and in what format. They then deliver the information and assist their clients to interpret and apply it.

The international community established the GFCS to promote operational climate services at the national and regional levels. This intergovernmental partnership is supported by United Nations and other international organizations with diverse, cross-cutting mandates. It is overseen by an Intergovernmental Board on Climate Services (IBCS), which reports to the World Meteorological Congress. Its contribution to climate change adaptation has been recognized by the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.

While the use of climate information and forecasts is growing rapidly, some 70 developing countries still lack the resources and expertise they need for their citizens to benefit from climate services. The GFCS assists these countries to develop and use climate services. It also promotes international collaboration, the pooling of resources and expertise, and the sharing of best practices.

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