NRC, 2001; Overpeck et al., 2009). The panel has relied on invited presentations and expert judgment of the panel to identify a series of functional components, institutional considerations, and principles of operation for successful climate services.


To date, the ongoing national conversation about the establishment of a new entity called a “National Climate Service” has focused on the provision of information about the impacts of climate change and variability and has not addressed how best to provide broader information such as services related to greenhouse gas emissions and reduction strategies. The nation needs climate services that include both kinds of information. Although a case can be made for an overarching climate change information service, especially from the perspective of local decision makers who manage both greenhouse gas emissions reduction and adaptation decisions, the panel chose to discuss the two major components of climate information (information related to climate change, impacts, and adaptation; and information related to greenhouse gas emissions and reduction strategies) separately because of the complex sets of agencies, actors, and scales involved, and in order to clearly identify the functions associated with each.


This chapter focuses on the role of the federal government and others in providing information about current and future climate change and variability, impacts and vulnerability, and response options for reducing risk. The following chapter focuses specifically on the information needed to support emission reductions. Each chapter discusses the potential functions of these institutions to provide these information services. As noted, the panel recognizes that many decision makers either manage or are seeking options that can both reduce greenhouse gas emissions and adapt to the impacts of climate change. Therefore, it is necessary to coordinate, and over time integrate, these information systems across the federal government, other scales of government, and with other public and private actors for an informed national response to climate change. The America’s Climate Choices (ACC) panel report Adapting to the Impacts of Climate Change (NRC, 2010a) makes important points about decision makers and their information needs for adaptation to climate change. We have worked closely with that panel in considering the functions of climate services. The primary goal in this chapter is to identify the functions that must be part of effective climate services, building on previous reports, and institutional considerations based on currently available services from different agencies (see “Potential Functions of Climate Services” in this chapter). Among the key functions of climate services highlighted are the following:

  • A user-centered focus which responds to the decision making needs of government and other actors at national, regional, and local scales;



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