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Hurricanes, tornadoes, droughts, and floods each leave costly damage and destruction in their wake.  Whether in the form of torn apart homes, schools, and churches, lost crops, or lost lives, severe weather events can shake the foundation on which we all depend.  And as a result, they do not only leave damage to our infrastructure; they also leave us feeling vulnerable and wanting to know more.  They leave us wanting ever better weather and climate information.

This desire is not new.  Since the origin of climate research, scientific inquiry was an attempt to better understand our surroundings.  But better understanding was not the only goal; we wanted to use our new information. With the Age of Exploration, climate studies sought to help with navigation.  A better understanding of climate patterns meant better planned shipping routes.

So while scientific curiosity was motivation enough for some climate studies, societal needs drove much climate research from the Age of Exploration onward. And yet a clear gap has emerged between the climate information needs of society and the scientific research meant to fill those needs.  Climate information has indeed become ever better, but many people in the field ­ from farmers to water managers to clothing store owners ­ donít know how to find or use the results of climate research in their planning.  Climate services attempt to close the gap between the providers and the potential users of climate information.  They attempt to offer climate information to businesses and communities who want to better plan, adjust, and adapt to climatic variability.

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