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Press Releases :: May 6, 2009

National Climate Service Could Organize and Improve Products and Services, Witnesses Tell Subcommittee

(Washington, D.C.)—The House Science and Technology Committee’s Subcommittee on Energy and Environment held a hearing on the need for a national climate serviceand options for meeting the increased demand for climate information.                                           

“Climate affects all of us everyday in communities across the country.  As our ability to understand and recognize climate cycles and patterns has grown, so has the demand for more information,” said Chairman Brian Baird (D-WA).  “It is in our best interest to structure a service that will utilize our expertise to deliver information that will not only support us nationally, but at the regional and local scale where adaptation and response plans can best be implemented.”
A National Climate Service (NCS) would provide a single point of contact of information for the user-community.  An NCS would provide climate forecasts and support for planning and management decisions by federal agencies; state, local, and tribal governments; and the private sector.
The climate is changing; regardless of what one believes is the cause or source.  Therefore, the U.S. needs a scientifically and operationally robust system to prepare, adapt, and respond to these imminent changes. 
In areas that have experienced an increase in the intensity and duration of droughts, state and local governments need reliable information to develop water allocation plans.  Coastal states and communities are looking for information on sea level rise to support decisions on infrastructure investments. And, areas projected to experience more intense precipitation events need information to reduce their communities’ vulnerability to flooding.  The hearing focused on expanding the delivery of climate services by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) as well as how to effectively utilize the expertise and resources of other federal agencies to meet the growing demand for climate services.  The witnesses emphasized participation by all relevant federal agencies was needed to build a national infrastructure to deliver climate information.
The hearing included witnesses from NOAA, the Department of Agriculture, and other organizations that deliver climate services as well as witnesses who utilize climate information that is currently available.  Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the Administrator of NOAA and Under Secretary of the Department of Commerce, discussed the current climate services available through NOAA’s various programs and offices; the Agency’s plan for internally organizing a National Climate Service; and the Administration’s effort to bring all federal agencies together to develop a coordinated plan to produce and deliver climate services.  Witnesses representing organizations delivering these services and making use of them both testified to the need decision makers have for information to respond to climate variability and change.
“We appreciate the recommendations for refining and expanding climate services to better address the needs of communities, businesses and individuals for climate information that will reduce their vulnerability to weather and climate events,” said Baird.  “We cannot control the weather and climate, but we can prepare for it and adapt to it if we know what we are facing.”
Committee Members are currently working on legislation to create a National Climate Service.  The Committee expects to markup the legislation in the coming weeks.
For more information, please see the Committee website.   

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