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Space Studies Board
4.2 On Climate Change Research Measurements from NPOESS
On May 27, 1998, Claude R. Canizares, chair of the Space StudiesBoard, and Mark Abbott, chair of the Committee on Earth Studies,sent the following letter to Dr. Ghassem Asrar, Jr., NASA associateadministrator for earth science, and Mr. Robert S. Winokur, NOAA,director of the National Environmental Satellite, Data, and InformationService.
The Committee on Earth Studies would like to share with you some early results from our study, “Integration of Research and Operational Satellite Systems.” The committee has met four times thus far concerning this topic. The first meeting included briefings by John McElroy, Jerry Mahlman, and others who provided a scientific and historical context for the research and operational Earth-observing missions. In addition, the committee heard reports on the status and plans of NASA/Office of Earth Science (OES) and on the National Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS). The committee also heard from the Polar-orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) and Geostationary Operational Environmental Satellite (GOES) program offices as well as from NOAA and NASA on plans for advanced geostationary platforms.
At the end of the first meeting, the committee decided an appropriate study strategy would be to evaluate specific satellite-derived long-term data series that have important applications to Earth science. Particular emphasis was placed on climate research, given the unique potential of NPOESS. At its second and third meetings, the committee examined several such data sets, including sea surface temperature, atmospheric ozone and aerosols, sea surface elevation, global temperature, terrestrial vegetation, clouds, Earth's radiation budget, and ocean winds. For each time series, the committee explored issues related to sensor performance and calibration, data access, and data consistency. The fourth meeting continued these discussions with a specific focus on how to leverage the NPOESS satellites to better meet key data needs for the climate research community. The committee was also briefed by Berrien Moore, Eric Barron, and Tom Karl on related studies that are under way within the National Research Council's Board on Sustainable Development and Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate.
At this point, the committee is now prepared to discuss its initial impressions on issues related to the development and application of NPOESS.
The committee wishes to thank you and your staffs for their considerable help in this initial phase, and we look forward to continuing our strong relationship with you. Please feel free to contact us at any time if you wish to discuss any of these issues in more detail.