CIRUN - Climate Information: Responding to User Needs

CIRUN - NOAA Executive Roundtable

November 29, 2012 Meeting Report

Executive summary:

The first Climate Information Responding to User Needs (CIRUN) – NOAA Executive Roundtable was convened on November 29th, 2012, in College Park, MD. The meeting, held at the University of Maryland’s Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC) and attended by representatives of the government, business, and academic sectors, had the stated goal of connecting providers of climate information with decision makers.  Participants discussed which of NOAA’s climate products and information they currently use, and what improvements and new products would help them better address their needs.  NOAA representatives provided an overview of current products and operations, as well as plans for the next one to two years.  Discussion was lively throughout the day, and the participants were enthusiastic about the potential for substantial outcomes. 

The meeting participants described their use of a wide variety of NOAA products and other sources of climate information as input in their forecasting and risk modeling calculations.  Examples of these risk-based decisions included adapting current operations, short-term management of water resources, and longer-term planning for new facilities and projects.  The difficulty of obtaining climate information from the diverse array of sources was viewed as a challenge, as was the fact that the varying resolutions, formats, and quality of data require extensive post-processing.  Desire was expressed for finer resolution, both spatial and temporal, greater consistency, watershed- and basin-scale data, and a clearer representation of the uncertainty in climate products.  As well, understanding the potential return on investment for adapting to changing climate is critically important to most users.

Several proposed actions resulted from the day’s discussion.  In general, it was agreed that the accessibility of NOAA’s services and products in a user-friendly format needs to be improved, and that there is a need for a “bridge” between data providers and applications.  An Application Test Bed where climate science could be applied to real problems was suggested as one possible “bridge”.   Participants expressed a real interest in NOAA’s ongoing needs-assessment project, which NOAA is using to develop priorities based on the services that users most want.  Industry representatives suggested the development of a user-focused slide presentation containing information about climate challenges, NOAA’s products, and the need for continuing services from NOAA.  Several follow-up actions were outlined.  In particular, a detailed description of NOAA’s needs-assessment process has already been sent to participants, and development of the user-focused slide presentation is in progress.

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