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Global Climate - La Niña ConditionsJanuary 12, 2000 — NOAA's 1997-98 El Niño forecast proved the value of climate services to the national economy. Speaking at the 80th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting Conference Luncheon Tuesday, NOAA Administrator, Dr. D. James Baker, unveiled a climate services initiative aimed at reducing the impact of climate variations and change. "NOAA is committed to advancing a climate services program significantly in the coming years," he said. "I believe the commitment to provide climate services is as important to our society as that which led to the modernization of the weather service and the excellent forecasts that we have today."

The climate services program embodies the transition from research to operations in climate forecasting and provides operational services. The program's mission is to "reduce impacts from, and adapt to, climate variations and change by monitoring the Earth's climate system, delivering data, predictions and impacts assessments, and continuing performance-enhancing research." To achieve this mission, NOAA leaders have developed a three-step process to fix what is broken, implement new observations and focus on next-step research.

The first step will involve enhancing operational forecast modeling, providing ship and aircraft support, filling gaps in the climate reference network and the cooperative network, operationalizing and expanding trace gas monitoring, improving long-term ocean observations and getting base support for data systems.

NOAA Administrator D. James Baker
NOAA Administrator D. James Baker addresses nearly 700 attendees of the 80th American Meteorological Society annual meeting. Baker's address announced NOAA's new climate service's initiative. (NOAA Photo by Curtis Carey)

A NOAA Council on Long Term Climate Monitoring is making excellent progress toward the second goal of implementing new observations, Baker said. Plans include enhanced oceanic and atmospheric observations, technology development and satellite sensing. "Research has led us to where we are today," he said. Future NOAA research will focus on understanding the Earth's climate system, composition and chemistry of the atmosphere, carbon cycle science, the global water cycle and human dimensions of global change.

For the program to succeed, Baker stressed, NOAA has to deliver new services and assessments. In fact, he said, NOAA is already issuing and developing a variety of new products: drought and hurricane outlooks, threats assessments, a climate system model output database, regional integrated assessments, and modern and paleo-climatic data sets, with data available on the Internet. NOAA also expects to address the computational challenges in climate modeling, climate change detection and attribution and high impact weather and climate events, he continued.

This program highlights the need to address new problems presented by the connection between humans and the environment, Baker argued. The contribution of new understanding and predictive insights developed by the year 2010 could lead to greater preparedness and recoverable values on the order of tens of billions of dollars annually on average.

1999 Global Climate Highlights and Episodic Events

NOAA's Climate Prediction Center