Climate Services for Water Clients: User Needs and Data Availability

1:00–2:00 P.M., 16 September 2009 

 The AMS Committee on Climate Services (CCS) is charged with providing venues for discussion of important, breaking issues on topics related to climate services. The Chair of that Committee, Ed O’Lenic, in collaboration with Peter Robinson, Past Chair of the AMS CCM Board , would like to invite each and every CCM to participate in a webinar entitled: “Climate Services for Water Clients: User Needs and Data Availability”, to be held on September 16, 2009, from 1:00-2:00 PM EDT. Prior CCS efforts with webinars have been encouraging. We expect this event would be the first in a short series soliciting input from CCMs relating to different climate services in different sectors.

CCMs are uniquely suited to discuss the issues, problems, successes and failures you have encountered in bringing information to bear in the decision-making process of you and/or your water community clients.
Possible topics include: Types of application for which you need climate data or information; The kinds of information that are most requested; Improvements needed in the systems that supply CCMs with such information; An example of a success story; and An example of something that did not work out so well, but taught a lesson.
Invited speakers: Kristen Averyt, Deputy Director of the Western Water Assessment; John Henz, CCM, leader of the Meteorology Group in HDR Engineering, Inc; Baxter Vieux, Vieux & Associates, Inc.; and Eileen Shea, Chief of the Climate Services Division, NCDC.

 Format: 4 speakers, 2 powerpoint slides and 5 minutes per speaker. A panel of these 4 speakers will answer questions from the audience after the presentations.

Discussion following the presentations dealt with:
1.  Possible competition between the private sector and NCAR.
2.  The tension between producing optimum products in a research environment and the desire of universities to market these products.
3.  The need to look at private companies as a source of jobs for young meteorologists.
4.  The fact that RISAs primary focus is learning, not business competition.
5.  How the Regional Water Resource Policy Commission in the Shenandoah Valley has been effective, by engaging as members a broad cross-section of the local community.
6.  How the effects of climate need to be carefully distinguished from possible problems with data.
7.  How radar has refined our view of rainfall, an is much superior to gauges.
8.  How important it is to stop the decline in USGS streamflow stations.
9.  What will be the effect of the ongoing decline in surface observing stations?
10.  How the decline may not be as bad over the world, as it seems to be in the U.S. 


Overview and Screenshots of Webinar
Climate Information and the Water Sector

Kirsten Averyt’s presentation, entitled “Climate Information and the Water Sector” addressed 1)  cognitive challenges, 2)  integrated frameworks, and  3)  climate information needs.  She noted that climate variability and change have disrupted the notion of stationarity of the precipitation record, which is one of the staple assumptions of the water community in making predictions.  She noted that it is important to bring together tool developers and users in an iterative process.  This takes time, because trust is also essential to the relationship, and that takes time to build.

Existing Climate Services in the Engineering Sector

John Henz’s presentation, entitled “Existing Climate Services in the Engineering Sector”, started with a list of his company’s past and ongoing projects related to climate.  John also took note of the fact that NCAR, and certain other government organizations, have partnered with individual companies, and are competing for grants with everybody else.  Eileen Shea noted that NOAA strictly avoids tailoring products to individual companies.  Rather, NOAA works through RISAs and others to target sectors.  John also expressed a desire to find out what others in the field are doing.

Climate Services for Water Clients: User Needs and Data Availability

Eileen Shea gave a presentation entitled “Climate Services for Water Clients:  User Needs and Data Availability”.  Eileen described how the various government members of the climate community (PRODUCERS of climate information in the form of observations, monitoring, research, modeling, and assessments) might, through the National Climate Service, address the needs to the USER community, including resource risk management and adaption and mitigation.  She narrowed her focus even more to discuss services to the water community, noting that CCMs and other service partners address key user needs, and are in a position to develop trusting relationships with users.

Challenges of Producing Forecasts for the Water Community (no presentation available)

Baxter Vieux’s presentation discussed some of the challenges of producing forecasts for the water community.  This is because water availability is profoundly affected by many different factors at the same time, e.g., human activities, trends, lack of observations, lack of metadata, etc…