The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration on Monday announced a plan to create a new Climate Service to meet an ever-increasing demand for information about climate change, and officials tapped Thomas R. Karl, the director of NOAA’s National Climatic Data Center in Asheville, to work as “transitional director.”
A climate service, which would be fashioned the same line’s as the government’s National Weather Service, has been discussed for a number of years and in an August 2009 interview with Xpress, Jane Lubchenco, under secretary of commerce and atmosphere and NOAA administrator, told Xpress that it’s creation was “an idea whose time has come.” Lubchenco added that there was active discussion about how such an organization would be structured.
Lubchenco was in Asheville to help celebrate the creation of the North Carolina home of the Cooperative Institute for Climate and Satellites. The new research institute, will bring together academic, nonprofit and community organizations that will use satellite data to detect and forecast climate change. It will initially employ about 20 people in Asheville.
In a press release, the NOAA said there’s a greater need than ever for giving people accessible information to deal with climate change.
“More and more, Americans are witnessing the impacts of climate change in their own backyards, including sea-level rise, longer growing seasons, changes in river flows, increases in heavy downpours, earlier snowmelt and extended ice-free seasons in our waters. People are searching for relevant and timely information about these changes to inform decision-making about virtually all aspects of their lives.
‘By providing critical planning information that our businesses and our communities need, NOAA Climate Service will help tackle head-on the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change,’ said (U.S. Commerce Secretary Gary) Locke. ‘In the process, we’ll discover new technologies, build new businesses and create new jobs.’
Carol Browner, assistant to the president for energy and climate change, said in the news release that “Businesses, communities and governments will rely even more on its expertise and the critical information it provides to make informed decisions based on the best science available. Through NOAA’s improved climate services we will be better able to confront climate change, and the many challenges it presents for our environment, security, and economy.”
In a story today, the Washington Post notes that the announcement of a climate service “comes at a time when climate skeptics have become increasingly effective in attacking the credibility of global warming forecasts.” The story goes on to quote Locke as saying that the new service would be able to provide advice on everything from where ski operators might want to refocus their activities in light of changing snowfall patterns to what farm crops will need increased irrigation. “In the same way businesses such as the Weather Channel and AccuWeather.com have taken advantage of the National Weather Service’s predictions, Locke said, ‘You’ll see much of the private sector will want to build on this one-stop shop of climate services.’” Locke adds that the U.S. House and Senate committees that oversee NOAA will have to agree to the creation of the climate service.
NOAA announced a new Web site, www.climate.gov. It will be the site for NOAA’s climate information, data, products and services, it said in its news release.
— Jason Sandford, multimedia editor