Regional Climate Impact-Based Decision Support Services

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Thursday, 8 January 2015: 8:30 AM
221A-C (Phoenix Convention Center - West and North Buildings)
Brian Hoeth, NOAA/NWS, Fort Worth, TX; and K. M. Van Speybroeck, J. McNatt, M. Wiley, V. Murphy, and D. P. Brown

As part of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the National Weather Service (NWS) Weather-Ready Nation initiative, there has been an increased focus on providing weather, water, and climate Impact-based Decision Support Services (IDSS) to core partners. This shift from product-focused service to interpretation and consultation (IDSS) enables core partners to make better informed decisions, rather than relying on the partners to interpret the products/data themselves.

The NWS Weather-Ready Nation Roadmap has outlined several key facets of IDSS, including clearly defined NWS Service Concepts. One of the key concepts is to “seamlessly link climate and weather through IDSS to support regional and local decision-making.” To that end, and also due to the increased requests by NOAA and NWS partners for climate information , the NWS Southern Region (SR) Regional Operations Center (ROC) has been providing climate IDSS in a variety of ways since early 2013. Two primary routine climate IDSS products are produced on a monthly basis: (1) Southern Plains Drought Outlook Summary (2) Climate Summary/Forecast for Texas. The Southern Plains Drought Outlook is provided to a variety of users including regional partners, media, congressional constituents, and the general public. The Climate/Summary Forecast for Texas is provided to the Texas A&M Forest Service, who incorporates the summary into their monthly report provided to the Texas Governor's office.

In addition to these two primary forms of IDSS, the SR ROC has been providing weekly drought updates (as each drought monitor is updated on Thursdays) to FEMA Region 6 and the states within the Region via FEMA's Daily Situational Awareness Briefing. Oftentimes also, daily email briefings and weekly webinar verbal briefings provided to the SR ROC's various state, regional, and federal partners focus on the drought and any potential drought relief and/or worsening across the Region. Climate services are provided via routine social media posts as well. Occasionally, seasonal webinars are provided to partners by the NWS Southern Region Climate Services Program Manager, facilitated through the SR ROC. Another success story has been regional drought forums that bring together NOAA, NWS, state and local water resource managers, media, and local planners together to discuss the ongoing drought, the impacts of the drought, and the climate outlook moving forward.

This presentation will give an overview and some examples of the various regional climate products and IDSS that the SR ROC is providing. Also, a brief discussion will be given on best practices and lessons learned which could potentially lead to similar climate IDSS being shared and developed for other regions. Lastly, a plan for the future will be outlined including discussion of pursuing a Memorandum Of Understanding (MOU) similar to that which has been developed by the Western Governors' Association (WGA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA).