In response to the need to improve climate services at the local, state, and regional levels, a national network of regional climate centers has developed. This paper provides the background to this development, and outlines the functions of the centers and identifies their benefits and beneficiaries. The centers are a source of climate expertise and maintain multifaceted interfaces with the public and private sectors. Each center a) performs services, including the management of the basic data for its region and the delivery of specialized products; b) conducts applied climate studies, including the monitoring of anomalous conditions and the promoting of regional research; and c) acquires and maintains specialized regional datasets. Examples are given for each function. The paper concludes by elaborating on the potential for focused, applied research to enhance the services provided by the regional centers. This includes reference to the current irrigation scheduling information service operated by the High Plains Regional Climate Center.
† High Plains Regional Climate Center, Department of Agricultural Meteorology, The University of Nebraska—Lincoln
* Midwestern Climate Center, Climate and Meteorology Section, Illinois State Water Survey
1Also affiliated with Changnon Climatologist.