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Workshop International Climate Services: Understanding and Responding to the Needs of Decision Makers

The convergence of evolving scientific and institutional capabilities on the national and international landscapes provided a natural opportunity (and imperative) for NOAA’s Climate Program Office to convene a dialogue with a sub-set number of our partners and stakeholders to thoughtfully explore and consider some of the challenges and opportunities associated with moving into the next phase of international climate services development. Given the scope of the challenge, this workshop was designed to deal specifically with those issues most relevant to understanding and responding to the needs of decision makers, and the potential implications for NOAA’s future directions and program investments. It was not intended to cover all dimensions of the development and use of climate information services. This workshop report is the summary of this dialogue and offers some potential directions for NOAA’s international climate applications and services development activities.

Author: Vaughan, Lisa. IRAP Project Manager

Published Date: 2011-05

Topic (s): IRAP

Publication Type: Summary Report

Download: InternationalClimateServicesWorkshopSummary.pdf

Integrating Climate Information and Decision Processes for Regional Climate Resilience in the Caribbean

The International Research and Applications Project (IRAP), Integrating Climate Information and Decision Processes for Regional Climate Resilience, advances research on adaptation and resilience to climate variability and change while also advancing the application of climate services. The project supports risk management through research-based improvements in design, development, and provision of climate information, particularly as they contribute to national and regional development goals.

NOAA is pleased to present the first IRAP report, entitled "Integrating Climate Information and Decision Processes for Regional Climate Resilience in the Caribbean".  The report synthesizes a workshop held in Kingston, Jamaica, May 29-30, 2014, sponsored by NOAA and USAID, in collaboration with the Caribbean Institute for Meteorology and Hydrology.

Author: Guido, Zackry. James Buizer. Tim Finan. S Gavin. Andrea Gerlak. Lisa Goddard. Christina Greene. Richard Johnson. Diana Liverman. Simon Mason. Ángel Muñoz.

Published Date: 2014-05

Topic (s): climate information integration, regional resilience

Publication Type: Workshop report

Download: IRAP report _sm.pdf

Transdisciplinarity Enabled on the role of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in Shaping Climate Services

A Special Issue of the Journal, Earth Perspectives: Transdisciplinarity Enabled on the role of the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) in Shaping Climate Services was published on June 14th, 2014. 

The articles are open source and available online at:

NOAA catalyzed the establishment of the IRI in the mid-1990s, and supported its work for over15 years; NOAA/CPO/CSI continues rely upon the technical expertise and experiences of the IRI, as the institution joins the University of Arizona as one of the Co-leads of the recently established IRAP endeavor. The first essay in this special issue describes the US interest in investing in this type of work, and outlines the IRAP as a next phase in our activities.  For additional information, please contact Lisa Farrow Vaughan at

Author: Vaughan, Lisa. IRAP Project Manager.

Published Date: 2014-06

Topic (s): IRI, climate services

Publication Type: Journal


The Economic Impact of Seasonal Drought Forecast Information Service in Jamaica, 2014-15

Starting in 2014, Jamaica has been in one of the worst droughts recorded since the 1970s. The drought’s effects on rural livelihood and the Jamaican economy have been devastating. According to widely published reports, the annual agricultural production declined by 30% in 2014 relative to 2013. This, along with brush fires, resulted in $1 billion loss for the economy. In response to the drought, the Jamaican Meteorological Service (JMS), in collaboration with the International Research Institute for Climate and Society (IRI) produced new seasonal drought- related forecast information. The information was provided to over 300 farmers during June 2014-June 2015 by JMS with the help of the Rural Agricultural Development Authority (RADA). The farmers received the information through farmer forums, phone text messages, extension agents, and by contacting the JMS. While anecdotal stories suggest that the losses in agricultural production might have been much greater if not for the provision of the information service by the JMS, they do not constitute robust evidence regarding the economic benefit of the information service. The goal of this study is to evaluate the economic impact of the service provided.

Author: Rahman, Tauhidur. James Buizer. Zackry Guido.

Published Date: 2016-02.

Topic (s): economy, seasonal drought, agriculture, climate services, Jamaica

Publication Type: Final report

Download: Economic-Impact-of-Drought_Information_Service_FINAL.pdf

Links Between Coffee Leaf Rust, Weather and Climate: A Literature Review

Coffee leaf rust (CLR) is the most destructive coffee disease in the world (Luaces et al., 2011) and has negatively impacted coffee production since the late 1800s (McCook, 2006). CLR damages coffee plants and decreases yields, which in turn reduces labor, influences wages, affects market prices, and inhibits farmers’ ability to manage their farms. The cumulative effects reduce farmer income, affecting livelihoods and food security, and force some to abandon their farms or switch to different crops altogether (WCR, 2014).

In recent years, CLR epidemics have been particularly damaging in Latin American and the Caribbean (Avelino et al., 2015). In 2012–2013, CLR epidemics cost farmers in these regions an estimated $500 million in lost production alone (ICO, 2013) and led to reduced production for at least two years (Avelino et al., 2015). Efforts to minimize the impacts of future outbreaks have led to research on new coffee varieties and, in the case of Colombia, large-scale programs to replace susceptible varieties with more resistant ones (De Silva and Tisdell, 1988; Arneson, 2000; Avelino et al., 2015). Capacitybuilding efforts that enable better management also have been implemented (e.g. De Silva and Tisdell, 1988; Staver et al., 2001; Shiomi et al., 2002; Santamaria and Bayman, 2005; Jackson et al., 2012; Zambolim et al., 2016). These efforts will be aided by the development of early warning systems (e.g. Alves et al., 2011; Luaces et al., 2011; Perez-Ariza et al., 2012; Avelino et al., 2015) and decision-support tools (e.g. Meira et al., 2009; Cintra et al., 2011). The provision of climate-related information has been offered as a vital element in these efforts (Avelino et al., 2015).

The causes of and responses to CLR are complex and demonstrate the multi-faceted relationship between disease characteristics, environmental conditions, climate and weather triggers, and the human actions that promote or hinder the disease. Although there are many factors to consider when managing CLR, climate and weather information has the potential to help farmers with disease management, but has thus far been under used. This document is step toward assessing the state of knowledge roles of weather and climate in supporting the growth and spread of CLR. It draws from more than 50 peer-reviewed articles, reports, and presentations related to CLR and coffee management to provide a summary of the current state of knowledge on the climate and weather influences on CLR.

Author: Rountree, Valerie. Zack Guido.

Published Date: 2016-05

Topic (s): Coffee leaf rust, disease management, agriculture, climate

Publication Type: Fact sheet

Download: IRAP-fact-sheet_updated_26Jun16.pdf

Connecting Climate Information Producers and Users: Boundary Organization, Knowledge Networks, and Information Brokers at Caribbean Climate Outlook Forums

Boundary organizations, knowledge networks, and information brokers have been suggested as mechanisms that help integrate information into decision-making and enhance interactions between the producers and users of climate information. While these mechanisms have been discussed in many studies in disparate fields of research, there has been little empirical research describing how they relate and support each other within studies on climate services. In this paper, two Caribbean Regional Climate Outlook Forums (CariCOFs) convened in 2014 are studied. CariCOFs facilitate the production of regional seasonal climate information and the dissemination of it to a diverse climate and socioeconomic region. Network analysis, key informant interviews, and small group discussions were used to answer two questions: 1) what are the barriers to using seasonal climate forecasts (SCFs) by CariCOF participants and 2) what are the iterative processes of information exchange that address these barriers? The barriers to using SCF include difficulty in demonstrating the value of the forecast to potential users, difficulty in interpreting and explaining the forecast to others, and challenges associated with the scientific language used in the information. To address these constraints, the convener of the CariCOF acts as a boundary organization by enabling interactions between participants representing diverse sectoral and geographic settings. This develops a network that helps build shared scientific understanding and knowledge about how different sectors experience climate risk. These interactions guide information brokering activities that help individuals communicate and translate climate information to facilitate understanding at local levels.

Journal: Weather, Climate, and Society:

Author: Guido, Zack. Valerie Rountree. Christina Greene. Andrea Gerlak. Adrian Trotman

Published Date: 2016-06

Topic (s): boundary organizations, knowledge networks

Publication Type: Journal


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Americans’ health, security and economic wellbeing are tied to climate and weather. Every day, we see communities grappling with environmental challenges due to unusual or extreme events related to climate and weather. In 2017, the United States experienced a record-tying 16 climate- and weather-related disasters where overall costs reached or exceeded $1 billion. Combined, these events claimed 362 lives, and had significant economic effects on the areas impacted, costing more than $306 billion. Businesses, policy leaders, resource managers and citizens are increasingly asking for information to help them address such challenges.