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Commerce Department Proposes One-Stop Climate Service

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's new service would be dependent on data-modeling technology that analyzes climate information, drawing on the national climatic, oceanographic, and geophysical data centers.
The Obama administration is using the National Weather Service as a model for a new climate service that would be a "one stop shop" for data, information services, and predictions on the Earth's climate.

Under a proposal introduced on Feb. 8, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration would create and maintain the service, called the NOAA Climate Service. A new Web site, climate.gov, will serve as a portal for information about droughts, severe storms, sea level changes, and other effects of climate change, according to NOAA.

The NOAA Climate Service would help businesses and communities tackle "the challenges of mitigating and adapting to climate change," said Commerce Secretary John Locke in a statement. "In the process, we'll discover new technologies, build new businesses, and create new jobs." The proposed service requires Congressional approval.

The Web site, called the NOAA Climate Portal, provides information and resources to scientists, educators, business users, and the public. It includes a data and services section with, among other things, an interactive "climate dashboard" with data on temperature, carbon-dioxide concentration, and sea level that are updated in real time. Users can adjust the time scales to see predictive data.

The NOAA Climate Service would be dependent on large scale data-modeling technology that analyzes climate information collected over time. Among the existing systems that would feed into the service are the national climatic, oceanographic, and geophysical data centers, the Earth System Research Lab, and the Climate Observing Network.

Climate change and its worldwide effects have become a topic of much debate among scientists and others. The NOAA says it responds to millions of requests every year for climate data from farmers, water-level managers, people in hurricane- or flood-prone areas, and others.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's near term priorities in establishing a climate service would be to improve its ability to provide regional climate vulnerability and risk assessments and other regional climate services.

NOAA is an agency within the Department of Commerce. Some of NOAA's other services include the National Weather Service, Fisheries Service, and National Ocean Service.

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