Collaboration between researchers and users build well-used climate service

A ten-year collaboration between SMHI and users around Sweden has created a climate service that describes climate changes in Sweden, Europe and the world. Close discussions between climate researchers and users have been the key to a well-used online tool. This work has now been documented in a scientific article in the journal Climate Services.  

“We have continually worked with users and developed the service based on their needs. Over the ten years or so it has taken to create this comprehensive climate service we have today, there has been a number of meetings where we have listened to the different needs and tested different suggestions,” says Erik Kjellström, climate researcher and head of SMHI’s climate research unit Rossby Centre.

During the development and in discussion with the users, it has become apparent that different groups have different needs.

“The iterative way we have worked and involved climate services users has been incredibly successful for creating a service that suits their needs, together with the relevant support materials,” Erik Kjellström emphasises.

Many use the service

The way researchers and users have cooperated to create the climate service has been documented in a scientific article in the Climate Services journal. Similar work is being carried out in many countries, where different approaches are being tested.

“We can see before us that our work can inspire similar climate services in different countries, since the method has provided results in the form of a well-used service.”

Since the launch of the most recent version in October 2013, there have been over 125,000 unique page views. Clear peaks in the statistics can be seen when the service is expanded with new materials, SMHI has published climate reports or there has been a heavy focus on climate issues in general.

“Today our online tool is used as an important source of information for climate adaptors throughout Sweden. The work to transition society to adapt to climate changes society will take many years and up-to-date information and data is needed continuously. The more research we have about climate change, the better foundation we will be able to provide. We continually update the service to provide a basis that reflects both development within research and meets user needs,” says Erik Kjellström.

Development, uncertainty and distribution

The SMHI Display service for climate change provides the user with an understanding about how the climate may change in the future. The service is based on research from international climate research, including a number of EU projects in which SMHI has participated with a large number of regional climate scenarios. Maps, diagrams and explanatory texts provide comprehensive materials to be used in work such as climate adaptation. User guidance provides further information about the service and support for using its various aspects.

The climate service does not just show potential future climate change, but also how robust this information is. The service shows the spread and consensus for the different scenarios in the basic materials, so that the user can establish their own understanding of the development. 

“When you work with climate adaptation, for example, there is a difficult balance between the different scenarios, solutions, costs, risks and consequences. We can never provide definitive answers for use, however we can provide a comprehensive foundation and information about the uncertainties at the same time, so that the users can make the best possible evaluation based on their situation,” says Erik Kjellström.