Seasonal to decadal climate predictions have the potential to inform different sectors in adapting their short to medium term practices and plans to climate variability and change. The data these predictions generate, however, is still not readily usable, nor widely used in decision-making. This paper addresses two key challenges: a domain challenge pertaining to an emerging climate services market, where users, tasks and data may be unknown; and an informational challenge pertaining to the interpretation, use and adoption of novel and complex scientific data.
The paper provides insights into the contributions design can offer to the development of climate services. We illustrate the key steps and share the main lessons learnt from our experience in the creation of Project Ukko (http://project-ukko.net), a fully working climate services prototype developed within the European project EUPORIAS. To address the domain challenge in climate services, extensive engagement with science and industry stakeholders was required. To address the informational challenge, we applied visualisation techniques that can help users to interpret and utilise the information as simply and quickly as possible. Fostering interdisciplinary teams of design researchers, climate scientists and communication specialists brought a wide range of expertise and competences in all stages of climate services development. Specifically, the project recognised the role of users in co-designing the product. This helped to improve the usability of climate predictions, tailor climate information to answer actual needs of users, better communicate uncertainty, and bridge the gap between state-of-the-art climate predictions and users’ readiness to apply this novel information.