DEFINING THE ROLE OF THE
AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF STATE CLIMATOLOGISTS
RECOGNIZED STATE CLIMATE OFFICE
IN THE NATIONAL CLIMATE
The mission of the National Climate Services
Partnership is to effectively provide the nation with high-quality,
timely, and relevant climate services. This comes at a time when the
demand for climate services is at record levels and is expected to
continue growing. The National Climate Services Partnership, comprised
of national and regional centers and American Association of State
Climatologists (AASC) recognized state climate offices, was created to
meet this need.
The Partnership seeks to meet the following objectives:
- Maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the
- Minimize duplication of services
- Streamline climate information delivery
This document defines the role of the AASC Recognized
State Climate Office (ARSCO) within this partnership. The ARSCOs bring
their climatological expertise and climate resources to serve the
citizens of their states with specific and first-hand support. This
support will aid in climate-related decisions for users in the public
and private sectors.
II. THE NATIONAL CLIMATE SERVICES PARTNERSHIP
Role of National Partner:
The National Partner, the National Climatic Data Center
(NCDC), is responsible for the archive, quality control, dissemination,
monitoring, and description of global and nationally observed climate
data. These data are the source for local, regional, national, and
global climate descriptors and summaries produced by NCDC.
Role of Regional Partner:
The Regional Partners, the Regional Climate Centers
(RCCs), are responsible for the collection of regionally observed
climate data and the application of these data to region-wide problems
and issues. Dissemination of climate data and information are targeted
to a broad regional audience. The RCCs will also serve end users in
those states lacking a state climate office.
Role of the State Partner:
To satisfy the current and growing needs for climate
services, climatological expertise must be readily available at the
local level. The AASC Recognized State Climate Office has the best
understanding of the climate of its state, and the ability and
knowledge to provide climate data and information to the user.
The ARSCO will engage in a variety of activities and
services that include one or more of the following:
- Coordinate and collect weather observations for the
purpose of climate monitoring
- Summarize and disseminate weather and climate
information to the user community
- Demonstrate to the user community the value of
climate information in the decision making process
- Perform climate impact assessments and weather event
- Conduct climate research, diagnosis, and projections
The National Climatic Data Center, the Regional Climate
Centers, and the American Association of State Climatologists are fully
committed to supporting the development of the ARSCO program.
The process of becoming an ARSCO is detailed in Section
VI. The target is to have an ARSCO in every state and Puerto Rico by
the end of 2002. In order to reach this target, the partners are
encouraged to help cultivate potential ARSCOs in states without one.
III. ARSCO TERMS OF REFERENCE
The following set of capabilities and activities
defines the requirements for qualification as an AASC Recognized State
ARSCOs must have adequate access to the Internet in order to connect to
data archives at the NCDC, RCCs, and other locations. Multiple pathways
for dissemination, e.g., telephone, fax, mail, and e-mail, shall be
used and ARSCOs shall maintain Web sites.
ARSCOs shall have the capability and the willingness to provide data
and information to users. ARSCOs are encouraged to charge fees for
services in order to cover the cost of filling the users' requests.
ARSCOs investigate relationships between climate and human activities
that impact their state.
ARSCOs shall evaluate the needs of the user community regularly,
adjusting and developing products and services as required. Outreach
activities will include the following:
- Education: The ARSCOs will educate the people of
their states on current and emerging climate issues. This may involve a
combination of public appearances, publications, and information.
- Climate Products: The ARSCOs will publish climate
information, both printed and on-line.
- Awareness: The ARSCOs will promote its program as
well as regional and national programs.
- Media Contacts: The ARSCOs will
cultivate print and broadcast media contacts since they can greatly
assist the ARSCOs' efforts to foster awareness and educate the public.
Monitoring and Impact Assessments:
ARSCOs monitor current climate conditions, evaluate
potential future impacts and place events in historical perspective.
IV. QUALIFYING STATE INSTITUTIONS AND
The ARSCO in each state shall be hosted by a state
entity, preferably an agency in the public services sector. Examples of
such state agencies or institutions are:
- accredited universities
- environmental agency such as a Department of Natural
- separate state agency at the Governor's staff level
The individual holding the directorship of the ARSCO,
usually the State Climatologist, must also be qualified in terms of
education and experience. The individual should also have the desire
and the "heart" to serve his/her state's need for climatological data
and information. The individual should be a willing advocate on behalf
of the ARSCO and the other partners. The individual must be able to
devote an appropriate amount of time to make the ARSCO successful.
V. ADVANTAGE OF THE PARTNERSHIP FOR QUALIFYING
The National Climatic Data Center, the six Regional
Climate Centers, and the American Association of State Climatologists
are committed to supporting the operations of the ARSCO program.
Through this partnership qualifying ARSCO's will be able to take
advantage of the following resources:
Access to a broad array of high quality climate
data, information, evaluation tools and value-added products from the
other partners that would not be otherwise available.
The NCDC and the RCCs will provide "reasonable" amounts
of data and information free of charge as long as these data are used
to support the on-going operations of the ARSCO.
Increased opportunities to pursue funding and
support as a participant in an integrated climate services partnership,
working cooperatively with other partners.
The NCDC will conduct a State Climatologist Exchange
Program each year. The program allows ARSCO staff to work at NCDC on
topics of mutual benefit. These fully supported (i.e., travel, per diem
and salary) work opportunities are provided on a competitive basis.
Program announcements are made in December with work completion
required by the end of September of the following year.
The NCDC and RCCs will provide assistance to the
ARSCOs, if requested, in establishing fair and equitable pricing
guidelines for climate services to be consistent with the NCDC and the
RCC price guidelines.
The RCCs will work to foster climate programs within
their regions through a variety of means such as funding of joint
projects, hosting region-wide ARSCO annual meetings, and other related
The NCDC and the RCCs will work with the AASC to
promote the ARSCO programs to funding agencies and through available
Enhanced visibility through promotion of service
capabilities by other partners. Recognition and identification of
ARSCOs as the primary resource and source of expertise for state
VI. BECOMING AN ARSCO - THE PROCESS
To become an ARSCO, a state agency must secure a
Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) with the National Climatic Data Center.
The MOA shall be between the NCDC and the host institution. The
Director of NCDC shall sign on behalf of the government and a senior
management official must sign for the state. (See appendix A for a
sample MOA.) The MOA may be established once the AASC has officially
recognized a state agency as an ARSCO (see below.)
For the AASC to officially recognize a state agency as
an ARSCO, three basic documents must be submitted to the AASC
1. A document that details current and planned
activities that demonstrate a willingness and commitment to meet the
ARSCO Terms of Reference. (See Section III.)
2. A letter of support from the state's Regional
Climate Center Director (See Appendix B for a sample letter.)
3. A letter of support from at least one National
Weather Service Forecast Office serving the state. (See Appendix C for
a sample letter.)
Once the documents have been received and approved, the
AASC President will notify the state agency and the NCDC.
VII. ACTIVITIES REPORT AND REVIEW
Each ARSCO shall submit a written "state of the State
Climate Office" report once per year to the ARSCO Review Committee. The
Review Committee shall be comprised of the AASC Executive Board
(President, Past-President, President-elect, and Secretary/Treasurer)
plus a fifth AASC voting member (preferably a RCC Director); NCDC shall
provide a non-voting member to the committee. The committee shall
select a chair from its members.
The committee will review the annual reports and
provide recommendations and comments to the AASC. When the ARSCO of a
Review Committee member is being evaluated, that committee member shall
be excused from the evaluation process.
If a majority of the Review Committee finds that the
Terms of Reference are not being met - as evidenced by activities in
the report or through other available reports - the chair of the
committee shall notify the ARSCO director. In the event of such
notification, the ARSCO will have one year to demonstrate compliance
with the Terms. During this period, the AASC will provide assistance
and support to the notified ARSCO in an effort to achieve compliance.
At the end of the one-year period, the (new) Review Committee shall
re-evaluate the ARSCO. Should the ARSCO fail to meet the Terms of
Reference a second time, the committee shall forward a recommendation
for suspension of ARSCO status and privileges.
Suspension shall require a two-thirds majority vote of
the ARSCO Directors present at the annual meeting, subject to the
presence of a quorum. Suspension will entail a loss of Partnership
privileges (as identified in Section V) and any additional benefits
provided to ARSCOs through the Partnership and the AASC. (Note: While
ARSCO privileges may be suspended, the ARSCO Director, as a member of
the AASC, will retain the benefits of associate membership.)
ARSCO annual reports shall be submitted to the AASC
President for processing by the Review Committee at least eight weeks
prior to the upcoming annual meeting of the AASC (i.e., approximately
the first of June)
Review Committee recommendations/notifications are to
be made at the time of, or prior to, the annual meeting. Possible
outcomes are "acceptable" or "unacceptable."
First time "unacceptable" reviews shall result in a
recommendation to the AASC for placing the ARSCO on probation. Two
consecutive such reviews shall result in a recommendation to the AASC
to remove the AASC Recognition of the SCO.
VIII. FINAL WORDS
This is a critical time for the establishment of a
national, regional, and state partnership for climate services. Public
awareness of climate issues is growing with each new "climate event,"
resulting in an increased demand for climate services at all levels. A
strong partnership will provide the foundation and framework for
implementing an effective and efficient climate services system.