Wednesday, November 26, 2014

About Outreach & Education


Do Americans understand how climate affects their lives, and how humans influence climate?

Can the public easily access climate data & information they need to make more informed decisions?

Americans’ health, security, and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day we see communities and businesses grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual, extreme, or changing climate and weather conditions.  Decision makers, resource managers, business and policy leaders, educators, and citizens are increasingly asking for information from NOAA to help them understand and address climate-related challenges and opportunities. 

In response to public demand, the Climate Program Office’s Communication and Education Program (CommEd) provides climate data and information to help build a climate-smart, resilient nation.  Our goal is to foster a climate-literate public that understands its vulnerabilities to a changing climate and makes informed decisions. 

Our Strategic Approach 

The CommEd team takes a four-pronged strategic approach: 

»  We host and participate in dialogs and workshops to build better relationships with our publics, and to help them find and use data and information in climate-related decisions;  

»  We manage and maintain the NOAA Climate.gov Portal (in a partnership) to provide easy, online access to climate data and information products for five different publics;  

»  We partner with other agencies, organizations, and businesses who are trusted sources of climate information and who have mutual interests in serving our priority publics; and 

»  We conduct in-reach initiatives within NOAA and among our partners to boost our capacity for communication, education, and engagement.

Our Priority Publics 

A “public” is any segment of society that can be characterized by their needs for information, their motivations, and their information-seeking behaviors.  The CommEd team serves five priority publics:  

(1)  people seeking authoritative information about climate science to help them discuss and decide on climate-related issues they face (i.e., decision-makers and policy leaders);  

(2)  people seeking to find and use climate data for research and development work (i.e., researchers, modelers, and engineers in government, academia, and business);  

(3)  people who want to know more about climate conditions and how climate science is done (i.e., the climate-interested public and students);  

(4)  people seeking resources to help them teach others about climate (formal and informal educators); and  

(5)  people who report on climate in public media (i.e., broadcast meteorologists and journalists). 

CommEd Team Portfolio 

The CommEd team manages a diverse portfolio of projects, products, and partnerships all designed to promote climate literacy.  Our goals and objectives are summarized below. 

Promote public awareness and understanding of current climate conditions, and their causes and effects by... 

»  producing and publishing data visualizations, maps, and graphs to help people access and understand climate science data; 

»  launching a new “Data Snapshots” section in NOAA Climate.gov in which we display maps of climate data; and 

»  increasing the quality and frequency of published reports by broadcast meteorologists and journalists featuring timely climate data and information.

Simplify the public’s ability to find, access, and use NOAA’s and its partners’ climate data by developing a cross-agency framework for data interoperability that allows users to locate, browse, preview, analyze and access data via the “Data” section in Climate.gov.  

Synergize NOAA’s climate communications, education, and engagement activities by...  

»  establishing NOAA’s Climate.gov as a unifying framework for cross-agency collaboration in serving climate data and information to our publics; 

»  enhancing the ability of NOAA and partnering personnel to communicate about climate, both internally and with our publics;  

»  building a network of networks that facilitates professional development and that delivers timely information & services; and 

»  developing and evolving civic engagement models for building relationships with our publics, and using these engagements to assess our publics’ needs. 

Inform and inspire our publics with narratives that contextualize and show the relevance of NOAA’s and its partners’ investments in climate science through in-depth stories and videos published in Climate.gov and other outlets. 

Help decision makers incorporate climate data and information products into their decision-making contexts by... 

»  deploying a new “Decision Support” section in Climate.gov that aggregates climate content from across federal and state governments, academia, and NGOs into “curated” pages focused on societal challenge areas, sectors, regions, and topics; 

»  engaging with stakeholders in workshops and dialogs designed to build knowledge and to strengthen working relationships; and 

»  building and deploying a new geobrowser platform that allows users to retrieve, display, interact with, and share climate data in a geospatial context.

Promote public climate literacy in partnership with formal  and informal educators by...  

»  incorporating climate science data, tools, and information products into classrooms and free-choice learning institutions;  

»  equipping educators with well-vetted, standards-based climate lessons, multi-media resources, and training and professional development opportunities; and 

»  defining “climate literacy” and helping to establish benchmarks of excellence to help guide educators. 

What Is ‘Climate Literacy’ and Why Is It Important? 

Climate literacy is “the matrix of knowledge people need to understand enough about Earth’s climate system to address climate-related issues.”  A climate-literate person understands how climate affects their life and livelihood, and how humans influence the climate system.  A climate-literate person knows where and how to find and use climate data and information to manage climate-related risks and opportunities they face. 

Partnerships Are Essential to Us  

We collaborate with a wide range of partners — including (but not limited to) the U.S. Global Change Research Program, NASA, the National Science Foundation, the National Academy of Sciences, the National Snow and Ice Data Center, the U.S. Departments of Interior and Agriculture, the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Teachers Association, AAAS, ASTC, and many others.