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About The Climate Program Office

To predict the weather — including extreme events — we have to understand both climate variability and change. NOAA OAR’s Climate Program Office (CPO) advances understanding and prediction of climate, and leverages the science to help Americans plan and respond.  CPO is never policy prescriptive — CPO’s information doesn’t tell us what to do; rather, it tells us what has happened, what’s likely to happen, why, and with what impacts. CPO’s work underpins and supports the development of the quadrennial U.S. National Climate Assessment, which was mandated by Congress in the Global Change Research Act of 1990.

The Rising Frequency And Severity Of Extreme Weather And Climate Events Is Taking A Heavy Toll On The U.S. And Worldwide.

The annual average number of billion-dollar disasters in the U.S. has quadrupled since 1980 (from 2.8 to 11.7), and average annual damages have more than quadrupled in that time (from about $17B to about $82B).

CPO Supports U.S. National Security, Economic Vitality, And Public Welfare — Americans In These And Other Key Sectors Are Increasingly Turning To NOAA For Actionable Climate Information.

CPO-sponsored projects provide actionable information to stakeholders in every region and sector of the nation’s economy, for example:

  • We help the U.S. Navy and Air Force to advance weather and climate prediction capabilities;
  • We help shipping industries navigate the rapidly changing Arctic;
  • We help farmers, foresters and land managers better manage their risks and opportunities;
  • We help municipal planners, health care providers, and concerned citizens anticipate and plan for extreme heat; and
  • We help commercial fisheries and resource managers understand how climate variability and change affects marine ecosystems.
CPO’s programs are helping U.S. farmers prepare for dry soil, scorching heat, and other climate impacts in recent summers. The map above, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, shows drought and abnormally dry conditions across the contiguous U.S. on July 10, 2012.
CPO’s programs are helping U.S. farmers prepare for dry soil, scorching heat, and other climate impacts in recent summers. The map above, based on the U.S. Drought Monitor, shows drought and abnormally dry conditions across the contiguous U.S. on July 10, 2012.

The U.S. Public’s Demand For Authoritative Climate Information Is Large And Growing Rapidly. Increasingly, Americans Are Turning To NOAA For That Authoritative Information.

The annual average visit rate to NOAA has risen by 58% per year over the last 9 years (today we receive over 9 million visits per year); and the U.S. Climate Resilience Toolkit visit annual average visit rate has risen by about 53% per year over the last 3 years (today, over 1.3 million visits per year). About 80% of our audience says they’re seeking “data-driven answers to particular questions related to managing risks to their valued assets.” (Based on public feedback in listening sessions.)

CPO Invests In Research And Development To Advance The Accuracy And Lead Time Of Seamless Weather To Climate Predictions, And Decision Science To Help The Nation Plan And Respond.

Big problems in climate science require a sustained investment — since the early 1990s, CPO-sponsored projects have made great strides in improving understanding of the climate system and improving prediction capabilities (e.g., El Niño-Southern Oscillation, Madden-Julian Oscillation, North American Monsoon, and the Arctic Oscillation).  

CPO finds and funds the best and brightest minds in research labs and academia, and focuses them on the most urgent climate research problems. Since the early 1990s, CPO-sponsored projects have made steady progress in identifying and understanding sources of predictability (i.e., cause-and-effect relationships) in the climate system, and improving the modeling and prediction of extreme weather and climate events. Noteworthy examples of CPO-related advancements include:

  • Enhancing process-level understanding of the Earth System;
  • Improving Earth System models and associated forecasts;
  • Translating forecasts into actionable information that meets users’ needs for decision making;
  • Sponsoring and co-leading multinational, multi-agency scientific field campaigns in different parts of the world to find and study sources of predictability in the climate system; and
  • Investing in and collaborating with researchers in U.S. national labs and universities all across the nation.

CPO’s investments in climate R&D and decision science adds value to the U.S. economy. A recent study found that every dollar CPO spends supports over $35 in existing investments in the U.S. economy by helping to inform management of well over $150 billion in U.S. property, infrastructure, and natural resources. Additionally, every dollar CPO invests in international field campaigns to advance understanding and predictability of the climate system leverages at least $9 in national and international partners’ co-investments in those same campaigns.

CPO invests in the workforce through internships and fellowships that train students and postdocs who will be the next generation of climate experts. The investment and mentorship provided through these opportunities help ensure a high-quality workforce development pipeline for NOAA and our Nation. CPO-sponsored and/or hosted student opportunities and fellowships include:

NOAA Climate And Global Change Postdoctoral Fellowship Program

  • Annually, CPO supports 2 cohorts of fellows with 8 new fellows accepted each year. This highly competitive and prestigious 2-year program attracts the best and the brightest PhDs in the sciences relevant to CPO’s mission.

John A. Knauss Marine Policy Fellowship Program

  • CPO typically supports one Knauss fellow each year, but often applies for more. The fellow is a graduate student with an interest in ocean, coastal and Great Lakes resources and in the national policy decisions affecting those resources.

American Meteorological Society Graduate Fellowships

  • CPO supports three AMS graduate fellows every year who are outstanding first-year graduate students pursuing advanced degrees in the atmospheric or related sciences.

Significant Opportunities In Atmospheric Research And Science Internship

  • CPO supports four SOARS proteges annually, who can be graduate or undergraduate students, from groups underrepresented in the atmospheric sciences.

William M. Lapenta NWS Student Internship Program

  • Starting in summer 2020, CPO will host, mentor and support financially two interns who are majoring in physical or quantitative science fields, math, engineering or social science and may be sophomore or junior standing or enrolled graduate students at the time of application.

Educational Partnership Program With Minority Serving Institutions (EPP/MSI)

  • EPP/MSI consists of two components: an Undergraduate Scholarship Program and the Cooperative Science Centers, consortia of universities focused on training and research in NOAA mission fields. CPO regularly hosts and mentors undergraduate and graduate interns through this program who are conducting research projects in climate science.

Ernest F. Hollings Undergraduate Scholarship

  • CPO hosts 2-3 undergraduate interns each summer through the Hollings scholarship which provides scholars with hands-on, practical experience in NOAA-related science, research, technology, policy, management, and education activities.

Recent Accomplishments

Program Development

  • 647K unique visits to NOAA last year (62.5% more than previous year), communicating climate science to the public
  • 186 Climate and Global Change Postdoctoral Fellows, 35 AMS Graduate Fellows, and 11 Post Docs Applying Climate Expertise (PACE) since inception of programs

Informing Decisions

  • Supported climate training workshops, and reports directed to needs of resource managers
  • Funded National Research Council reports, including America’s Climate Choices to provide advice to the nation on responding to climate change

Observations and Monitoring

  • Completed the Climate Reference Network— NOAA’s benchmark United States climate observing network
  • Worked with more than 70 partners to implement over 50% of the sustained Global Ocean Observing System

Understanding and Modeling

  • Over 300 active grants
  • Over 700 published papers per year, contributing to our understanding of climate variability and change
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