“In their efforts to make climate information more useful for adaptation decisions, scientists will need to be clear about the limits of climate prediction.
“Decision-makers from 155 nations agreed last month to establish the world’s first framework for ‘climate services’, an effort that will supply on-demand climate predictions to governments, businesses and individuals. By providing tailored information on how climate change will affect certain regions and sectors, the Global Framework for Climate Services will help the world “better adapt to the challenges of climate variability and change”1. Such was the promise issued by the World Meteorological Organization in Geneva on 4 September, following its World Climate Conference.
“Underlying the climate-services vision is an assumption that increased research investment in modelling will yield more skilful climate prediction, which will facilitate better adaptation decisions. This vision is ultimately of a new era in climate science, one in which seasonal weather forecasting and long-term climate projections will merge seamlessly, giving rise to decadal climate predictions that have the skill and reliability of weather forecasts. Provision of this data to local planners and policymakers will be a service to society. Speaking to delegates in Geneva, Jane Lubchenco, head of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration — the government body that is to lead US climate services — gave voice to that vision: “Imagine farmers being able to determine what to plant and where based on drought forecasts three to five years out.””