For 25 yr, the Regional Climate Center (RCC) program has provided climate services to six regions encompassing the United States. The service provided by the RCCs has evolved through this time to become an efficient, user-driven program that exemplifies many of the components that have been cited for effective national climate services. To illustrate the RCCs' role as operational climate service providers, a brief history of the program is presented with recent examples of RCC innovations in the provision and creation of data products and decision tools, computer infrastructure, and the integration of climate data across networks. These strengths complement the missions of other federal climate service providers and regional and state-based programs, such as the Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessments, state climatologist programs, and National Weather Service climate services program managers and local focal points with which the RCCs actively partner.

Building on this expertise, a vision for the RCC role in climate services during the next quarter century is presented. This strategy includes five main components encompassing 1) operational linkage of an array of climate data sources with climate products, tools, and monitoring systems; 2) engagement of new and existing climate service partners to reduce the risk associated with climate impacts; 3) implementation of innovative user-driven approaches to regional and local climate services; 4) climate data stewardship; and 5) scientifically sound assessments and solutions to climate-related problems through active stakeholder collaboration and engagement. These elements will be equally applicable and important to decisions related to the historical climate record, real-time interannual climate variations, or future climate change assessment and adaptation activities.

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Northeast Regional Climate Center, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

Western Regional Climate Center, Desert Research Institute, Reno, Nevada

Midwestern Regional Climate Center, University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign, Champaign, Illinois

Southern Regional Climate Center, Louisiana State University, Baton Rouge, Louisiana

Southeast Regional Climate Center, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, North Carolina

High Plains Regional Climate Center, University of Nebraska–Lincoln, Lincoln, Nebraska

NOAA/National Climatic Data Center, Asheville, North Carolina