CIRUN - Climate Information: Responding to User Needs

CIRUN at the WCRP Conference

The theme for the World Climate Research Program’s Open Science Conference last year in Denver (October, 2011) was Climate Science in Service to Society.

During the conference Antonio Busalacchi , Chair of the WCRPJoint Scientific Committee, and Director of the Earth System Science Interdisciplinary Center (ESSIC), and Nancy Colleton, President & Founder, Institute for Global Environmental Strategies andExecutive Director, Alliance for Earth, led an ESSIC/CIRUN sponsored panel Private Sector Needs and Opportunities.”

The panel, including the five corporate leaders listed below, addressed a question at the heart of the CIRUN mission: what do the public and private sector need from the climate science community? This was the first exposure to these issues for many of the several hundred scientists in the audience.
Panelists were clear: what is required is information with a quantified uncertainty which can be factored into their decision-making processes. They agreed that changes in the planet's natural environment over the next few decades will provide both risks and opportunities for many sectors of the economy, but pointed out that with actionable information the country can adapt to minimize the risk and take timely advantage of the opportunities.

The point was clearly made that decisions are being made now in the absence of such information and emphasized the urgency of using current science to provide it, recognizing that climate scientists seemed, understandably enough, to be primarily focused on what they did not know rather than on converting what they do know to product they could use. The panel also confirmed a basic CIRUN principle: providing actionable information will require collaboration between climate scientists, other disciplines, and decision makers.

Comments from the audience underlined the importance, given the panel discussion, of modifying the original question to the following: what is the actionable information that would be valuable to the user community and that can be provided now from current science?

Busalacchi and Colleton were joined by:

TIMOTHY E.CARONE Director, Global Climate Monitoring Systems, Advanced Programs & Technology Division, Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems

SHARON L. HAYS Vice President, Office of Scienceand Engineering, ComputerSciences Corporation

DAVID C. NAGEL, Executive Vice President, BP America Inc.

LINDENE PATTON Chief Climate Product Officer, Zurich Financial Services

PAUL WALSH, Vice President, Weather Analytics, The Weather Channel Companies

For further information on the panel and adapting to climate change, please link to:

Back to Top