Energy and Meteorology Portal

What are Weather and Climate Services?

Weather and Climate services (W&CSs) provide a key support technology to energy systems operators and managers, including towards the net zero emission goal. Firstly, these services are key to improving accuracy of energy demand estimates, demand being the main target in energy provision. Secondly, these services are essential for supporting continuity in the delivery of renewable energy services. Thirdly, they can support improved approaches to transmission and distribution management, as well as the resilience of energy systems. Fourthly, they enable greater efficiency in final energy use. Finally, W&CSs can support energy innovations, such as exploiting highly accurate weather data to assist in the development of bifacial solar Photovoltaic (PV) panels, or sophisticated machine learning approaches to estimate electricity demand at a high granular level. These fundamental elements of the energy system, constituting its value chain, are the target of the W&CSs (WMO SG-Ene, 2022, Figure 1).

Figure ‎1: Fundamental Energy System, or value chain, elements supported by Weather & Climate Services (Source: WMO SG-Ene, 2022).

Figure ‎1: Fundamental Energy System, or value chain, elements supported by Weather & Climate Services (Source: WMO SG-Ene, 2022).

Despite the close similarities between weather and climate services, it is useful to note some important distinctions between them (Troccoli, 2018):

  • Weather services for energy essentially deal with forecasts of up to a few weeks in advance
  • Climate services for energy deal with forecasts and projections from a few weeks to decades based on climate observation and monitoring.
  • Weather services are considerably more mature than climate services; the former have been around for 40+ years (Pettifer 2015), and the latter have started to be developed consistently only during the last decade (Hewitt et al. 2012);
  • Weather services are based on information (e.g. forecasts) that are both more accurate (shorter lead time) and verifiable (their lifespan is shorter, in line with its lead time) compared to climate information

Both weather and climate services have in common their need for historical information, be it observations (in situ and/or satellited-derived), physical models or the combinations of the two (typically reanalyses). While it is customary to associate historical data with climate services, as they cover climatic time scales, they are widely used within weather services too, as they assist for instance, with the identification and computation of statistics of anomalous events to provide a baseline for weather forecasts.