Over the past six years, 27 projects were conducted involving weather–climate product development by students working with weather-sensitive decision makers in various institutions. Thirteen of these decision makers were interviewed during 2003 to assess the post-product impacts. This assessment revealed that successful integration of climate-related products and information into the decision process depended on the following four factors: 1) the user's basic knowledge of atmospheric sciences, 2) their ability to manage risks associated with use of uncertain climate information, 3) their access to climate information and expertise in a timely fashion, and 4) demonstrations of value from the use of the project information. These interactive projects, which included a university faculty climatologist, undergraduate meteorology students, and the decision makers, had increased decision makers' awareness of, and interest in, climatological information (data, derived products, seasonal outlooks, etc.). The projects also identified where climate information and expertise could be obtained, and established a continuing dialogue between the climatologist and users. These projects further demonstrated that most decision makers, even those in the same weather-sensitive sector, often face very different issues that require specialized, value-added information that goes well beyond the generalized information produced by government agencies. Because of this ongoing shift in user needs, the atmospheric science community may have to broaden the educational experiences for future students.
Meteorology Program, Department of Geography, Northern Illinois University, DeKalb, Illinois
A supplement to this article is available online (DOI: 10.1175/BAMS-84-4-Changnon)