An approach to designing a National Climate Service


Miles, E.L., Snover, A.K., Whitely Binder, L.C., Sarachik, E.S., Mote, P.W., Mantua, N.J. 2006. An approach to designing a National Climate Service. Proceedings of the National Academies of Sciences 103(52):19616-19623.


Climate variability and change are considerably important for a wide range of human activities and natural ecosystems. Climate science has made major advances during the last two decades, yet climate information is neither routinely useful for nor used in planning. What is needed is a mechanism, a national climate service (NCS), to connect climate science to decision-relevant questions and support building capacity to anticipate, plan for, and adapt to climate fluctuations.

This article contributes to the national debate for an NCS by describing the rationale for building an NCS, the functions and services it would provide, and how it should be designed and evaluated. The NCS is most effectively achieved as a federal interagency partnership with critically important participation by regional climate centers, state climatologists, the emerging National Integrated Drought Information System, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Regional Integrated Sciences Assessment (RISA) teams in a sustained relationship with a wide variety of stakeholders. Because the NCS is a service, and because evidence indicates that the regional spatial scale is most important for delivering climate services, given subnational geographical/geophysical complexity, attention is focused on lessons learned from the University of Washington Climate Impacts Group’s 10 years of experience, the first of the NOAA RISA teams.