Rapidly Expanding Uses of Climate Data and Information in Agriculture and Water Resources: Causes and Characteristics of New Applications

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  • 1 Illinois State Water Survey, Champaign, Illinois
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During the last 20 years the use of climate data and information in agriculture and water resources has increased dramatically. This has resulted from vastly improved access to comprehensive datasets and climate information made available by wide use of personal computers, as well as ease of access due to Internet connections to computer systems containing specially developed climate databases and information packages. Furthermore, the recent development of better, more sophisticated information about how climate conditions affect various physical conditions and economic outcomes has enabled more informed decisions by managers, who, in turn, developed a greater awareness of how to utilize climate information. The demand for information has grown as a result of increasing economic pressures and because certain agricultural and water management activities and their infrastructure have become more sensitive to certain climate aberrations. These factors have led to the development of new suppliers of data and information, including regional climate centers to handle the quick assembly of updated databases, and the expansion of the private sector into the provision of specialized climate information needed by a wide variety of users. Key new uses relate to near-real-time access to constantly updated interpreted data and to availability of sophisticated information products relating current and future climate conditions to specific outcomes. In sum, these advances represent major improvements in the service of atmospheric sciences to the nation, helping to improve the economy and environmental management.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Stanley A. Changnon, Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7495.

During the last 20 years the use of climate data and information in agriculture and water resources has increased dramatically. This has resulted from vastly improved access to comprehensive datasets and climate information made available by wide use of personal computers, as well as ease of access due to Internet connections to computer systems containing specially developed climate databases and information packages. Furthermore, the recent development of better, more sophisticated information about how climate conditions affect various physical conditions and economic outcomes has enabled more informed decisions by managers, who, in turn, developed a greater awareness of how to utilize climate information. The demand for information has grown as a result of increasing economic pressures and because certain agricultural and water management activities and their infrastructure have become more sensitive to certain climate aberrations. These factors have led to the development of new suppliers of data and information, including regional climate centers to handle the quick assembly of updated databases, and the expansion of the private sector into the provision of specialized climate information needed by a wide variety of users. Key new uses relate to near-real-time access to constantly updated interpreted data and to availability of sophisticated information products relating current and future climate conditions to specific outcomes. In sum, these advances represent major improvements in the service of atmospheric sciences to the nation, helping to improve the economy and environmental management.

Corresponding author address: Dr. Stanley A. Changnon, Illinois State Water Survey, 2204 Griffith Drive, Champaign, IL 61820-7495.
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