the objective is the timely production and delivery of climate information relevant to the user’s decision needs. “Climate forecasts are useful only to the extent that they provide information that people can use to improve their outcomes beyond what they would otherwise have been.” That statement, from Making Climate Forecasts Matter (NRC 1999a), is part of a series of findings that describe the importance of the interface between users and data providers. The report and climate services examples cited earlier are the basis of a set of requirements for a user-centric climate service:
A comprehensive service should strive to meet the needs of a user community at least as diverse and complex as the climate system itself, ranging from the international community to individual users and involving both the public and private sectors. Central to the scope of a climate service is the need to embrace wide ranges of time and space scales because decision making occurs on all scales from local to global and from weeks to centuries.
Users will become increasingly diverse, knowledgeable, and specialized. Consequently, their needs will evolve. Greater education of users in the meaning and significance of climate information is likely to promote greater use and more robust application of the information.
The key to an effective climate services program is a vigorous, cost-effective, and comprehensive intersection of knowledge and its use. Therefore, the following elements are essential for a successful program:
Mutual information exchange and feedback.
Communication and accessibility of information.
Continuing evaluation and assessment, by users and providers, of the use and effectiveness of the services.
If a climate service function is to improve and succeed, it should be supported by active research. The ability to serve national climate needs is a direct product of the U.S. investment in the pursuit of new and useful knowledge. A continuous and concerted effort to develop and incorporate new knowledge is a requirement of any sustainable service.
Research should focus on improved understanding of the dynamics of the diffusion of knowledge and information, including how it is transferred, communicated, and used and the implications of its use.
Climate services should be an objective of mission-oriented research.
Active mechanisms should be employed to enable the transition from research discovery to useful products (NRC 2000a).