The Importance of Climate Services
There is increasing recognition that climate has a central role in global economic and social sectors. Climate directly affects the prosperity within of many sectors, such as insurance, agriculture, energy and health. Similarly, unfavourable climatic conditions have negative and prolonged impacts, including decreased private sector investment and productivity associated with economic and environmental uncertainties.
Societies have evolved by managing and adapting to climate and its impacts. Nowadays, additional challenges have to be faced: sectors that are influenced by climate become more interconnected and play a greater role in bigger, more densely populated societies; and climate variability is likely to be altered and/or heightened due to rising greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere from human-induced activities.
Changes in regional climatic patterns, such as the variability and extremes of rainfall or wind speeds, may alter the climate of other regions at both local or global scales. This could bring increased risk of flooding or wind storms to some regions, while others may face more serious and frequent droughts or drop in wind speeds. As climate variability increases and unexpected changes to climatic patterns or climate extremes are observed, economic gains could be at greater risk.
With successful climate risk management, the economic and social sectors that can adapt to the impacts of increasing climate variability will be best positioned for continued growth. Recent advances in science and technology has significantly contributed to the skill of climate predictions. Climate information over the coming seasons, years or decades can now be modelled for different sectors, to evaluate climate vulnerability and facilitate the management of climate risks and opportunities. Advanced climate modelled projections at these timescales are only now starting to be available, and they could play a key role to help guide investment decisions, enhance productivity and increase safety and security across many different sectors.
However, much of this emerging climate knowledge is difficult to access or understand, and therefore remains underutilised. Climate services intends to facilitate the use of relevant climate information across different sectors, to manage risk and adapt accordingly to future climates. The scientific climate community must first understand the way societies and sectors make decisions when they are affected by weather events and climatic variability. By evaluating the different user needs and providing access to useful and clear climate information, climate services can facilitate timely, actionable and decision relevant outcomes to ensure the continued growth of key sectors at both local and global scales.