NOAA's climate efforts have international as well as domestic dimensions. The agency has a well-established history in sponsoring international climate-related decision support research and capacity building activities dating back to the early 1990s. Many of these have been tightly linked to multilateral and bilateral processes and frameworks. Examples of activities supported via this effort over the last 20 years include the development of Regional Climate Outlook Forums; pilot applications research, training and capacity building projects; interdisciplinary competitive research grants focused on impacts and vulnerability; and long-term institutional investment in the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI).
As a result of these and other efforts, the landscape for international climate services and the use of climate information in risk management has evolved significantly over the last 20 years. The demand for useful and forward-looking information about climate variability and change across multiple temporal and spatial scales has substantially expanded, as evidenced by a growing focus on climate and risk management/adaptation in many sectors, countries and regions. Stakeholders and decision makers are requiring a robust understanding of the impact of changes in climatic conditions on the people and places in which they are vested. Increasingly such an understanding is recognized as being reliant on locally- and regionally-specific data, contextual socio-economic knowledge, decision support tools and the enhancement of institutional capacity to manage negative consequences, and take advantage of the positive impacts of variability and change. The last 10-15 years also marks an increasing recognition by programs with risk and resource management mandates - including development and adaptation efforts - of the need to consider strategic approaches to incorporating climate as a consideration within the sectors and regions they address. This demand, and a corresponding evolution of capabilities within the research and operational/services communities, has helped to advance and shape the creation of interdisciplinary research, services, institutions, and networks designed to produce actionable climate information.
Recognizing the changing landscape, the International Research and Applications Project is intended to support international efforts to link climate research and assessments to practical risk management, development and adaptation challenges in key regions throughout the world.