Extreme weather events are affecting societies worldwide. The intensity and frequency of some of these events are likely to increase and pose significant challenges in future. One way to overcome these challenges is to take quick and effective steps to minimise greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions, by developing new low-carbon energy and transport technologies. On the other hand, it is also essential to adapt to unavoidable climate change by taking informed decisions at all levels. This can help minimise the risks and costs, and help seize opportunities. Preparation and provision of regional and sector-specific user friendly climate information across time and space is thus essential. A mechanism must be put in place for timely delivery of climate information to users, as also feedback to service providers from user communities, delineating their information needs.
Climate services deal with the generation and timely provision of a wide range of information on past, present and future climate and its impacts on natural and human systems. Climate information to public and users greatly depends on climate observations, management and transmission of data, various data services, climate system monitoring, practical applications and services for different user groups, forecasts on different time-scales (monthly, seasonal, interannual, and the like), climate projections, policy-relevant assessments of climate variability and change.
The World Meteorological Organisation (WMO) has already established a Global Framework for Climate Services (GFCS) to strengthen production, availability, delivery and application of science-based climate prediction services. The guiding principle for the implementation of the GFCS is to build on the existing mechanisms and institutions developed over the years for the provision of climate services.
India Meteorological Department (IMD) is the official agency responsible for providing operational weather and climate services in India. IMD provides climate services in India through its climate division at Pune, which has been carrying out many India-specific climate related activities such as climate monitoring and analysis, climate prediction (seasonal forecasts), climate data management, climate research and climate applications. Since May 2013, the climate division has been also functioning as a WMO-recognised Regional Climate Centre (RCC) for South Asia.
However, to provide national level climate services as per the GFCS, there is a need to consolidate the IMD’s existing climate related activities. New activities such as enhanced climate services in India will empower communities to plan ahead for extreme climate events in future. To observe, understand and predict climate and its variability over India and south Asia reliably, the MoES Climate Division aims to:
- Develop and maintain quality climate databases and information systems for India and South Asia;
- Develop a broad-based system for communicating timely and effective early warning information and sector-specific products with user feedback, at both sub regional and national levels;
- Facilitate interaction and collaboration among providers of climate services in India at the state, regional, and national levels for research and development of climate products and services;
- Improve the technical capacity of producers and users of climatic information in order to improve climate monitoring and forecasting products; and,
- Create and increase awareness about the need for, and benefits of, climate services in India to help society adapt to climate change and variability.
Plans are afoot to build relevant and easily accessible climate services in India for effective climate risk management , and hence improve the economic value of available climate information.