The strategic outcome of the National Weather Service (NWS) is to build a Weather-Ready Nation. To do this, the NWS is shifting its focus from a paradigm where its mission ends with issuing a forecast, to Impact-Based Decision Support Services (IDSS) where forecasts, warnings, and outlooks are delivered to decision-makers in order to save lives and property and enhance the national economy. This project is a follow up to the 2016 NWS Operations and Workforce Analysis (OWA) which included a rigorous analysis of the NWS’s partners, primarily for weather, to whom NWS delivers IDSS and the NWS Climate Services 2016 Meeting. The goals of the project include: generating an inventory of NWS climate partners across the NWS, analyzing if the working definition for NWS partners is applicable for climate, understanding the types of climate-related products and services that NWS is providing, and assessing gaps between NWS’s current set of climate partners and potential partners in the future.
In order to understand the scope of NWS climate services, a questionnaire was created and disseminated to the NWS Climate Prediction Center, 122 Weather Forecast Offices (WFOs) and 12 River Forecast Centers (RFCs) through each of the six NWS region’s Climate Services Program Manager (CSPM) to gather the data for the project. The questionnaire showed that NWS climate employees remain unsure about the designation between core partners and deep relationship partners, terms developed during the OWA and communicated with all NWS staff. The most common entries listed as both core and deep relationship partners include emergency management and the media. Compared to weather services, the number of cited partners for climate services is significantly lower. Furthermore, the questionnaire identified the decisions that partners make and some of the gaps in providing climate services. In addition to identifying IDSS partners, the questionnaire also identified partners who collaborate with the NWS in order to create climate products and services, including NOAA’s Regional Climate Centers (RCCs) and Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments (RISAs). The results of this study lead to recommendations for making the IDSS policy more inclusive for climate services.