Climate services involve the generation, provision, and contextualization of information and knowledge derived from climate research for decision-making at all levels of society. These services are mainly targeted at informing adaptation to climate variability and change, widely recognized as an important challenge for sustainable development.
This paper reviews the development of climate services, beginning with a historical overview, a short summary of improvements in climate information, and a description of the recent surge of interest in climate service development including, for example, the Global Framework for Climate Services, implemented by the World Meteorological Organization in October 2012.
It also reviews institutional arrangements of selected emerging climate services across local, national, regional, and international scales. By synthesizing existing literature, the paper proposes four design elements of a climate services evaluation framework. These design elements include: problem identification and the decision-making context; the characteristics, tailoring, and dissemination of the climate information; the governance and structure of the service, including the process by which it is developed; and the socioeconomic value of the service. The design elements are intended to serve as a guide to organize future work regarding the evaluation of when and whether climate services are more or less successful. The paper concludes by identifying future research questions regarding the institutional arrangements that support climate services and nascent efforts to evaluate them.