Web Date: September 4, 2009
Businesses, farmers, and governments need practical information about climate predictions so they can plan for and respond to changes. To meet these needs, participants in the U.N.-sponsored World Climate Conference this week launched an effort to provide science-based climate information internationally.
Called the Global Framework for Climate Services, the new effort is intended to provide science-based predictions about climate change in a form that is useful to those who will have to adapt to such changes. The data might eventually include seasonal predictions for temperature and precipitation or estimated sea-level rise for a costal area.
"Notwithstanding steps taken to reduce emissions of greenhouse gases," says Michael Jarraud, secretary-general of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), "society will need information tools to adapt as the climate will continue to be variable."
The framework will "establish a formalized system that ensures the availability of user-friendly products for all sectors to plan ahead in the face of changing climate conditions," Jarraud says. It will link the Global Climate Observing System, the World Climate Research Program, and climate services that already exist in some countries into a clearinghouse for integrating information from these sources.
The global framework echoes plans in the U.S. to create a National Climate Service, a new federal agency that would be an authoritative source of forecasts about changes in climate expected in the coming years and decades (C&EN, July 6, page 23).
Convened by WMO, the week-long conference in Geneva brought together climate scientists, economists, other specialists, and government officials.
WMO hosts World Climate Conferences infrequently, with the one this week marking the third in three decades. The first, in 1979, led to the formation of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. The second, in 1990, gave an important push to the creation of the first international climate change treaty, which was adopted in 1992.
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