On June 4 and 5, 2019, the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center (Byrd Center) hosted the inaugural Ohio Climate Services Summit. This summit brought together individuals from a variety of professional communities, including federal, state, regional, and local partners, and was designed to identify ways to deliver climate tools and resources that are responsive to stakeholder needs.
“Our collaborators in the federal government approached us last autumn about hosting an event to highlight some of their efforts and engage Ohio stakeholders in an ongoing conversation about needs. We were fortunate to have more than 70 individuals participate, including agencies and organizations from all four corners of Ohio,” said Jason Cervenec, Byrd Center Education and Outreach Director and event organizer.
The Tuesday session began by defining climate services and their value in terms of extreme weather and climate resilience. Breakout sessions allowed for discussion about identifying key climate services and areas in need of improvement, based on observations from professionals and desire for stakeholder engagement. Key solutions emerging from this discussion included providing data and information in accessible formats to key stakeholders, broadening the scope of data collected, and refining methods and dialogue used to communicate aspects of climate to the public.
Reviewing available regional climate resources comprised another topic during the morning session. Representatives from federal agencies, including the Midwest Regional Climate Center, National Weather Service, National Drought Mitigation Center, USDA Midwest Climate Hub, Great Lakes Integrated Sciences and Assessments, and National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), discussed current climate service tools and resources within their agencies. Subsequent panel discussions centered on relevant themes: the first panel covered the subject of hydroclimatic extremes, while the second panel covered public health and safety. Panelists represented state, regional, and local agencies and organizations. Each presenter also identified their agency or organization’s greatest needs for additional data, information, and partnerships.
The Wednesday session opened with Dr. Aaron Wilson of the State Climate Office of Ohio (SCOO) delivering a live demonstration of his weekly Hydrologic and Climate Assessment that is posted as a video on the SCOO webpage and distributed as a podcast. The state climatologists from the neighboring states of Kentucky and Michigan provided overviews of their current initiatives and options for future collaboration with Ohio.
Bryan Mark, State Climatology of Ohio, summarized the summit as, “an excellent opportunity for us to broaden our appreciation for both the various climate data and service providers as well as the diversity of stakeholder needs in Ohio. We see important ways in which our SCOO can build connections and relationships to better serve our mission of stewarding climate information to improve outcomes for Ohioans.”
Throughout the summit, participants actively engaged in discussions about defining climate services, identifying means through which stakeholders can utilize these resources, and determining aspects of these climate services that need improvement.
The Byrd Center hopes to host this event to bring together partners on a biannual basis. For access to the summit schedule, slides, and videos of the talks, visit go.osu.edu/climateresilience.