Climate data is needed by many individuals and companies. Below are several representative examples of individuals and companies who use climate data.
With their economic success dependent on the right timing of planting, irrigation, and harvesting--and on the right choice of crops for the local climate--farmers have a keen interest in weather and climate.
For day-to-day decisions, for example about irrigation, farmers depend on short-term weather forecasts which give them information about temperature, precipitation, and soil moisture levels. Longer-term regional climate projections of precipitation, temperature, and soil moisture will allow farmers to decide which types of crops to grow in the future and which technologies to invest in.
|MAYORS OF LARGE CITIES
Heat is the number one weather-related killer in the United States, claiming more lives each year than floods, lightening, tornadoes, and hurricanes combined--and prompting concerns about projected increases in the frequency, duration, and intensity of heat waves as climate changes.
Using a heat index that combines absolute temperature with humidity to assess how hot it really feels, the National Weather Service forecasts extreme heat several days in advance, allowing city officials to warn the public, institute energy-saving programs, and set up community cooling centers.
In the longer term, climate projection data allows mayors to develop strategies to adapt to heat waves and plan for long-term infrastructure investments to protect the health and economic interests of their constituents. These could include zoning changes to mandate the planting of trees to offer shade, investments in power-grid infrastructure, and programs to increase the energy efficiency of buildings.
|ENERGY SECTOR AND WATER MANAGERS
As one example, the Federal Columbia River Power System generates more than 76,000 gigawatt hours (GWh) of electricity per year, accounting for about 30 percent of the electricity used by more than 15 million people in the Pacific Northwest. In order to make both short- and long-term decisions regarding how much water to store, river managers use climate projections of factors such as temperature, precipitation, and snow pack to plan for and adapt to future changes in river flow, such as increased runoff in the spring or low flow in the summer. More accurate climate projections allow for better planning and help inform investments in infrastructure.
Insurance rates for weather and climate-related disasters such as floods, high winds, and droughts are based on the expected occurrence of these events, calculated using climate data on past weather events to develop risk models for different regions and operations, for example farming, transportation, or construction.
However, weather and climate related losses have increased rapidly in recent years, with record-breaking insured losses of over $50 billion in 2011, and insurance companies are realizing that changing climate means that past events are no longer a reliable guide to the future. To more accurately reflect the changes in risks, high quality regional climate projections of variables such as sea level, temperature, precipitation, wind, and extreme events are needed.
|NATIONAL SECURITY SECTOR
National security planners and decision makers use climate information and forecasts over a broad range of timescales--and are now facing the need to incorporate a better understanding of climate change into the management of military operating environments, missions, and facilities. For example, it has been estimated that $100 billion of Naval facility assets are at risk from sea-level rise of three feet or more. The Navy would like to use climate model outputs for information related to increasing Arctic maritime activity, water and resource scarcity, and this impact of sea level rise on installations. To inform their decisions, high spatial resolution regional climate models on decadal timescales are needed.