Provision of information on climate and weather is important as it contributes to economic and societal resilience in Australia and worldwide. ‘Climate Services’ involve managing meteorological data, deriving products that describe climate and applying these products for social, economic and environmental benefit. In adapting to climate change, effective provision of climate services requires presenting information relevant to long-term planning and early warning of significant climate risks.
There were eight key findings from the think tank discussions.
1. Most users do not distinguish between weather and climate information. The needs for climate information vary considerably among different types of users and for different types of events. Even within a sector such as agriculture, the climate information and advisory needs of different types of farming businesses vary considerably.
2. Communication of climate information needs to be tailored to the ways that intended recipients receive messages about climate. Some users in government agencies and industry are comfortable with more complex written reports or web-based tools, while farmers often prefer radio or other forms of verbal reports. Visual presentation and design is critical (more pictures — less text). Repeated and consistent messaging is important.
3. Too much information may be a problem. People needing to respond rapidly to urgent emergency events such as floods or bushfire require simple checklists that can guide their decision-making in stressful situations.
4. High-impact floods or fire events typically result from a combination of extreme weather conditions and preconditions (either extended drought or rain). This requires different types of monitoring and analysis for effective prediction and is difficult to estimate over the longer time scales relevant to climate change.