Providing Western Regional Climate Services – Perspectives from the Western Regional Climate Center
Friday, 19 December 2014
The western United States faces distinct challenges such as persistent drought, dwindling water resources amidst an expanding population, and climate-sensitive alpine environments. The complex terrain of the region compounds these challenges. The Western Regional Climate Center (WRCC), one of six National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) university-based regional climate centers, has been providing climate services since 1986 that support the unique needs of stakeholders in the mountainous region of the western U.S. This includes meteorological data, tools, and products for thousands of stations across the West, and gridded data products, such as based on PRISM for example, that are used for drought assessment among other needs. WRCC and partners have developed numerous web-based tools and products to support decision-making and research pertinent to the West. Changing climate and variability along with the diverse physical and human geographies of the western U.S. require continuous advancements in climate knowledge and applications development. Examples include the need for tools and model downscaling that support and inform adaptation, mitigation and resiliency planning; web-based analytics that would allow users to interact and explore temporal and spatial data and relationships, and products from new satellite sensors that can provide higher resolution information on soil moisture and vegetation health given the sparseness of in-situ observations for the vastness of the West. This presentation provides an overview of some insights, opportunities and challenges of providing current and future climate services in the West.