Ad Hoc Committee on Climate and Climate Change Consulting Certification

Background:  Impacts from a changing climate like droughts, snowpack recharge, sea level rise, temperature extremes, etc. have created a market for individuals to advise businesses, communities and organizations as they plan for and adapt to these changes. Providing sound advice requires knowledge and skills in a variety of disciplines including interpreting global climate models, understanding statistical downscaling methods, reconciling future projections with past climate, recognizing and quantifying climate vulnerabilities and opportunities, and understanding the economic implications of climate change.  Additionally if one were to advise on mitigation actions, skills in greenhouse gas accounting would be essential.  While there are many paths to having appropriate expertise, this area demands a familiarity with meteorology, climatology, data analytics and carbon accounting among other skills.

The AMS CCM program is well respected and having a CCM on staff is often a prerequisite for obtaining contract work in meteorology.  However, the CCM program requirements do not currently cover the knowledge and skills needed to support climate adaptation work; this is not to imply that some CCMs are not well qualified to provide this type of consulting.  Even for those CCM well qualified in this area, the CCM title does not convey the expertise.  The AMS has already been approached by at least one company asking how they would know they had hired a competent consultant for advising them on building facilities taking climate change into account.

Discussion:  Initial discussions among the leadership of the Commission on Professional Affairs and the Enterprise Commission identified a number of areas that should be explored (and more are listed below):

  • While the framework of the current CCM program appears viable for climate adaptation consulting (and mitigation should we choose), there are key differences.  For example, college curricula are evolving and the knowledge and skills required for climate services extend outside of climate science.  On-the-job experience would likely be a key factor in any type of certification.

  • Some CCMs are engaged in this type of work today.  We would want to find some way to grandfather these individuals into any new certification or specialty. 

  • Ways to bootstrap a new certification would need to be explored.

  • Those interested in hiring a climate consultant do not always associate a CCM credential with having a climate skill set.  Thus AMS would need to consider how to market the CCM label as possibly including climate knowledge, or find an alternative label for consulting climatologists. 

Given the scope of this effort and the continued evolution of science, it is likely that AMS might need to consider an evolutionary approach to this certification.  For example, it might be initiated by expanding the CCM program to encompass this new area but ultimately a new certification might be established.  Or alternatively we might adopt some interim requirements for certification and establish a formal evaluation process.

Action Taken. In December 2015, the AMS Council Approve an ad-hoc committee reporting to the Executive Committee of Council to investigate the need for AMS action in this area, explore options to implement a certification (e.g., extend the CCM program, create a stand-alone program, etc.), consider methods for ensuring public awareness of climate consulting certification, and make a recommendation to Council. 

Co-Chairs: The Co-Chairs for this committee are Joe Chang and John Nielsen-Gammon