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From Science to Application: Evaluating Changing Precipitation Trends


NOAA is announcing the release of the first report in a monograph series on climate adaptation, titled “Our Changing Precipitation: A Conversation on the Science of Precipitation and Planning for the Future”

This report was developed by the NOAA Climate Program Office (Adaptation Sciences Program), the NOAA National Centers for Environmental Information (Regional Climate Services Program) and The Water Research Foundation. It is a result of a suite of engagements with water utilities and regional partners conducted in 2020, as well as a five-part webinar series that took place in September and October 2021. 

The report aims to synthesize information, experiences, and lessons learned, ranging from implementation challenges to peer examples. The report finds that while NOAA continues to develop tools and data to serve the nation’s weather and climate needs, state and local policy makers are trying to find ways to finance significant changes in stormwater management practices necessitated by climate change. 

These projects were designed to showcase the state of the science on precipitation forecasting, ensure the relevance of the science for local water infrastructure decision making, and to discuss practical ways to build resilience to climate change. The webinar series was part of a larger NOAA water utility study that was designed to improve the delivery of information resources and build resilience to climate change in small- to medium-size communities within the United States.


“After a decade and a half of working with water utility companies, we wanted to focus on their needs and help advance their understanding of climate change,” explains Dr. Nancy Beller-Simms,  Adaptation Sciences program lead. “During the water utility study, we asked water utility personnel how we could be of help. An overwhelming majority asked for information on the science of precipitation. Since our understanding of the science of precipitation is constantly evolving and maturing, this effort provided the opportunity for NOAA, other federal agencies, and water organizations  to share their experiences and provide different perspectives. We are always learning.”


“One of the biggest challenges we faced was writing this report with multiple audiences in mind,” says Ellen Mecray, NCEI’s Regional Climate Services Director for the Eastern Region. “We provided several versions of key messages in this report aimed at a variety of different audiences, including stormwater managers, water utilities, state and local decision makers, and federal agencies. There is a clear need for this information at all levels of community decision making.”

“In regional climate services, we talk a lot about building resilience, and many conversations are about precipitation,” Mecray continued. “I think that this report will help to consolidate the knowledge of science behind what we know and don’t know about precipitation, and advance the national conversation on climate resilience.” 

For further information regarding the “Our Changing Precipitation” report, please contact

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