Climate Information Services
Climate information services involve the production, transfer and use of climate information to help people prepare for and adapt to an increasingly variable and unpredictable climate.
Many of USAID’s partner countries are highly vulnerable to climate shocks and stresses. They need early warning information to better prepare for and respond to weather and climate risks, as well as daily, monthly, seasonal and long-term) forecasts and information they can depend on for planning and decision making. As climate is inherently variable and unpredictable, robust solutions that provide resilience across a range of climate scenarios are needed. Climate information in a decision-ready format can improve decision-making and thus development results across sectors.
While climate services can improve decision-making, the evidence to date indicates that information alone is insufficient to effect change. Rather, climate information services need to be matched with investments that support capacity and resources to respond and adapt. Therefore, USAID has built climate information services to complement other program investments. For example, in Mali, Senegal and Rwanda, agriculture-focused climate information services were designed to liaise explicitly with ongoing agriculture programs. Together these programs provided rural farmers not only with information, but also with the necessary resources and agency to act on that information.
What Are Climate Information Services?
Climate information services translate data, statistical analyses and quantitative outputs into information and knowledge to support decisions to manage climate impacts across contexts and sectors. For example, temperature and precipitation forecasts can offer actionable information relevant to agriculture, infrastructure and health stakeholders, among other sectors. The collection, processing, management and delivery of climate information are increasingly facilitated and enabled by digital technologies.
Demand-driven, user-centric and co-developed climate information services allow individuals, communities and countries to prepare for and respond to the impacts of climate variability and change. USAID and its partner organizations develop and use climate information services to help safeguard livelihoods, save lives and protect investments. The implementation of climate information services across USAID programs builds on a long-standing evidence base for known, effective approaches that harness local knowledge and expertise. Future programs will continue to address barriers to the access and use of climate information services, particularly among youth, women, underserved populations and indigenous peoples.
What Kinds of Products and Tools are Available to Promote the Use of Climate Information Services?
Providing climate information services to the right people at the right time reduces climate risk and helps individuals, households and communities adapt to climate change. Relevant, reliable and timely climate information should be accessible to people across sectors, such as finance, health and agriculture. Some climate information services include early warning systems, which help individuals, institutions and governments take early and effective action. Other products and tools shed light on seasonal and longer-term challenges that climate change poses for planning and risk management. Examples of these tools include:
Earth Observation: Satellite Imagery, Climate Modeling and Visualization Tools
Free and open weather and climate data sourced from earth observing systems on the land and in the oceans and atmosphere are critical for weather and climate information services. Since 2010, their increased availability has given more than 10 million people around the world the information they need to make more informed decisions. Through USAID’s partnership with NASA, the SERVIR program strengthens capacity for organizations to access and use helpful satellite and climate information, supporting governments, organizations and farmers as they make decisions about water resources, food security and disaster preparedness. Illustrative examples of USAID programming using these tools include:
Surface Water Mapping Tool
Surface water distribution patterns change over space and time and can provide insight into factors such as flood risk and impacts on infrastructure and landscapes. However, such patterns have been difficult to track and measure.
This user-friendly Surface Water Mapping Tool quickly calculates past surface water patterns. It documents the dynamics of seasonal flooding cycles on the Mekong River, enabling users to better understand the impacts of dams and prepare for flooding.
The Surface Water Mapping Tool documents the dynamics of seasonal flooding cycles on the Mekong River to better understand some of the impacts of dams.
Enhancing Flood Early Warning Services in the Hindu Kush Himalaya
Flood early warning services (EWS) can build the resilience of vulnerable communities and are a key element of disaster risk resilience. However, early warning systems are often insufficient. In Bangladesh, flood EWS suffer from a lack of data, making it difficult to forecast floods and putting lives and livelihoods at risk.
This interactive, web-based flood EWS tool increases flood forecast lead times in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region, allowing individuals and communities to protect themselves and their assets from floods
Enhancing Flood Early Warning Services aims to build the resilience of communities in the Hindu Kush Himalaya region by increasing flood forecast lead times.
Gender-Sensitive Satellite-Based Agricultural Insurance (GAIINS)
As changing climate patterns increasingly disrupt food production, quality insurance will be key to providing a safety net for farmers. However, traditional approaches to insurance tend to be too costly for many, while ignoring the needs of women farmers.
Building on SERVIR’s experience with public and private stakeholders in Kenya to expand and reduce the cost of crop insurance, the GAIINS activity aims to make insurance more responsive to the needs of women agricultural producers.
This blog, titled "Insuring Against Climate Risk to Help Woman Farmers Grow", was originally published by Katherine Casey and Georgia Hartman on SERVIR Global on December 10, 2021. View the original posting here.
Technical Assistance to Support the Use of Climate Information Services
USAID facilitates collaboration between scientists, meteorologists, community members and other decision makers to build and enhance countries’ capacities to make informed decisions related to resilience and climate change adaptation
Climate Services for Health
Climate change is a key variable in understanding and managing human disease, death and life expectancy. As such, climate information services can help practitioners understand the impacts of climate change on human health and, further, can be used to enhance climate adaptation and resilience. Climate services for health encompass use of climate and environmental information in informed health care decision-making
Approaches that integrate climate information, observations and models are required for actionable knowledge about the health impacts of climate exposure.
Climate Risk Profiles
Climate risk profiles provide an overview of country-specific climate risks, including history, trends and policy contexts. They focus on how climate change will impact critical sectors for a country, including water resources, agriculture, human health and energy. View all of the available climate risk profiles here, and see specific examples below.
How Climate Information Services Promote Resilience
As climate change brings increasingly variable and extreme weather, climate information services are critical for adaptation and resilience. Climate information services have played a significant role in achieving resilience by informing sound, evidence-based decision-making. In Rwanda, for example, farmers participating in USAID climate services investments increased yields by 47% and income from crops by 56%. Learn more about how USAID’s climate information services investments, such as the Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture Activity, contribute to resilience.
More About Climate Information Services
SERVIR Service Planning Toolkit
10 Oct 2023 - USAID , NASA , SERVIR
Implement tools from SERVIR to effectively solve critical challenges related to climate change, food security, resilience, and more.
UN Climate Change Conference (COP28)
30 Nov 2023, GMT +4 - United Nations Climate Change
Engage with climate change leaders around the world to align efforts on climate action and assess progress since adopting the Paris Agreement.
Anticipatory Action in Advance of "Wicked Crises"
29 Aug 2023 - SPARC , Simon Levine , Lena Weingärtner , Alex Humphrey , Muzzamil Abdi Sheikh
Explore the types and timing of Anticipatory Action interventions that improve impact and save lives by supporting farmers and pastoralists.
The Potential for Nature-Based Solutions Initiatives to Incorporate and Scale Climate Adaptation
26 May 2023 - World Resources Institute
Explore the barriers nature-based solutions initiatives face in offering enhanced adaptation support and consider their potential to better incorporate climate adaptation.