Reliable climate information can help countries plan for adverse and beneficial climate events, allocate resources, and achieve development goals. Advances in climate science, including forecasting on seasonal and sub-seasonal timescales, decadal-scale climate change and variability, real-time climate monitoring, and tailoring of climate information to specific user needs, are creating opportunities to improve climate risk management, especially in developing countries where societal needs are greatest.
The IRI’s Climate Program is a center of expertise in the development and communication of forecasts, monitoring, historical analyses and other climate-information products. We develop these products to meet the needs of local decision makers and others who work in sectors such as agriculture, water resources and public health. Our goal is to promote the generation and uptake of climate information that leads to improved management of climate risk.
Although we do not act specifically as an operational climate center, our aim is to assist those responsible for providing operational climate information, such as National Meteorological Services and Regional Climate Centers in developing countries. We do this through capacity-building activities and by developing tools to assist them in their climate service responsibilities. The Climate Predictability Tool (CPT) for example, is specifically designed to assist National Meteorological Services to produce their own tailored, downscaled seasonal climate forecasts, either using global datasets (such as sea temperature measurements) or dynamical model outputs from the WMO’s Global Producing Centres.
The Climate Program has four divisions:
- Dynamical Modelling
- Global Prediction (Leader: Mike Tippett)
- Downscaling (Leader: Andy Robertson)
- Climate Diagnostics (Leader: Lisa Goddard)
The Climate Program works closely with sectoral experts in health, water resources, agriculture and disaster management, to identify areas in which climate information can be used for decision making and planning and to ensure that the information is tailored to the needs of the users.
To achieve its goal the Climate Program has identified the following objectives:
- Develop and demonstrate expertise across the range of scientifically credible forecast and monitoring methodologies used by operational centers around the world;
- Develop new products (as well as improve existing ones) to generate and to meet demand for climate information;
- Define and implement international standards for generating and communicating climate information;
- Enable operational climate centers to provide climate information by developing software tools and supporting materials that encapsulate best practices for generating such information.