828 Toward Improving NWS Local and Regional Climate Services

Thursday, 10 January 2013
Exhibit Hall 3 (Austin Convention Center)
Fiona Horsfall, NOAA/NWS, Silver Spring, MD; and M. Timofeyeva, J. Eise, and N. Rydell

Although NOAA NWS has had responsibility for delivering climate services since the passing of the “Weather Service Organic Act” in 1890, the NWS Regional and Local Climate Services Program was created in 2000, with the implementation plan for regional and local offices developed in 2003. The NWS existing infrastructure provides a nationwide coverage of climate services down to the local level, but there is a need to improve provision of regional and local climate services to meet NWS' strategic commitment for a Weather-Ready Nation, which requires comprehensive environmental information from near term to extended time scales.

To meet this goal NWS needs to develop stronger relationships and better coordinate actions between the national climate centers, such as the Climate Prediction Center (CPC), the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC), the Earth System Research Laboratory (ESRL), and the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory (GFDL), and climate programs at the Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs), Weather Service Offices (WSOs), and the River Forecast Centers ((RFCs).

There are several cases of well-developed relationships that can serve as prototypes for successful collaboration. NWS Central Region Headquarters organizes informational briefings for the local offices during which CPC staffs explain their rationale for the current suite of climate monitoring and forecast products. The Boulder WFO is routinely leverages to the co-located ESRL for expertise in climate variability and change for delivery of climate information to local citizens. In spite of isolated examples, the local NWS field offices do not routinely work with the national offices to draw on their expertise and guidance in the delivery of regional and local climate services, and conversely, the national offices do not fully realize the scope of the need at the local level for their expertise and guidance. NWS local offices are very familiar with the needs of their local citizenry for climate services. They frequently receive requests for translation of national information into local climate forecasts, local impacts of climate variability and change, improved climate data records and visualization for ease of understanding, and attribution of weather and climate events at local and broader levels. Several on-going projects are already in place setting the stage for collaboration and infusion of science into the local office operational product suite, including the Local 3-Month Temperature and Precipitation Outlooks ( L3MTO and L3MPO), the Local Climate Analysis Tool ( LCAT), data access tools (xmACIS/NOWData), and the Partners Exchange Program ( PEP) We will present examples of current ad hoc activities and strategies for developing a deliberate approach to ensuring more robust regional and local climate services delivery through the NWS local offices. Strategies include but are not limited to building capacity through training and more active participation of local office staff in National Climate Centers led projects.

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