Climate Service UK will, I’m sure, become the central framework for advising upon the risks and opportunities of a changing climate at home and abroad.
Image: Met Office Chief Executive John Hirst speaking at the launch of Climate Service UK
ScienceOmega.com reports from the launch of Climate Service UK: a new Met Office initiative that will help users guard against the risks posed by – and take advantage of the opportunities that arise from – climate change...
Ed Davey MP
Yesterday saw the launch of Climate Service UK: a new framework established by the Met Office to provide support and advice for the management of climate-related risks and opportunities. The initiative, which has been developed in response to the World Meteorological Organization’s (WMO) Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS), aims to help users better understand the ways in which they might be vulnerable to a varying and changing climate.
In addition to providing climatological information for individual users, Climate Service UK will support stakeholders from both the public and private spheres. The service consists of four key elements: the provision of climate-related information, the delivery of value-added products and services, capacity development, and the dissemination of expert advice.
Within this framework, leading UK climatologists will inform policymakers and help interested stakeholders to protect themselves against a broad array of climate-related risks. However, the initiative is not solely concerned with damage limitation. Climate Service UK will also facilitate the identification of potential opportunities that are likely to arise from a changing climate.
travelled to the Institute of Physics (IOP) in London to attend the launch of Climate Service UK. During the course of the day, experts outlined what the new service has to offer, and why such initiatives are so desperately needed.
"If we need a reminder of how important this is, we just have to look back – even in the United Kingdom – over the last 14 months," said Met Office Chief Executive John Hirst during his opening address. "In April last year, we came to the end of a long drought. This was really stressful for many parts of the community; especially the agricultural community. Then we went through the wettest summer for 100 years. Again, this had a massive impact on homes, businesses, and amongst others, the agricultural community. We then had a prolonged, cold winter, [which posed challenges in terms of] energy security, transport resilience, and again, agriculture. I’m not picking on agriculture specifically, but it is a very fine illustration of just how climate and weather impact our lives."
Understanding climate change is a key objective of Climate Service UK. However, in isolation, the monitoring of long-term climatological trends is not enough. In light of this, the Met Office initiative will also provide information on how our climate varies.
"It’s not just about climate change," explained Met Office Chief Scientist Professor Julia Slingo. "As a society, we are so much more exposed – so much more vulnerable – than we were even 20 years ago. There is actually a real need to understand climate variability itself. Even without climate change, I’d argue that we would need climate services."
Also speaking at the launch of Climate Service UK was Ed Davey MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change.
"Climate Service UK will, I’m sure, become the central framework for advising upon the risks and opportunities of a changing climate at home and abroad," predicted Davey during an impassioned speech in which he rounded on climate change sceptics.
Several speakers emphasised the value of an open discourse between the service and its users. Working in conjunction with existing and prospective stakeholders, Climate Service UK aims to improve our understanding of weather- and climate-related vulnerabilities, and to support ‘climate-smart’ decisions that could bolster societal resilience to climate change.
'Built on user needs'
"[This framework must be] built on user needs," explained Jeremiah Lengoasa, Deputy Secretary-General of the WMO. "There has to be a dialogue between service providers and the users of climate information – whether they are using it now or anticipate using it in the future – and those who provide this service need to ensure that it does address needs."
Climate Service UK will draw upon the national climate capability, which in turn, is funded by the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs (Defra) and the Department of Energy & Climate Change (DECC) through the Met Office Hadley Centre Climate Programme.
The new initiative will build upon the Met Office’s existing knowledge of climate science, its ever-improving climate forecasts, and its growing understanding of how climatological events impact society and the environment. Climate Service UK will also offer fresh insights into how a changing climate is likely to affect private industry and the British economy.
For full details of the Climate Service UK launch, check out the following articles: