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Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling
tion of climate information products in response to the societal demands. 4 The interaction between researchers and users is then critical to determining what ought to be predicted and the limits and uncertainties of the predictions (Hooke and Pielke, 2000). The prediction products would then provide information and support decisions about agriculture, energy, health, transportation, food aid, disaster response, and other climatically influenced activities. This desire for information products and climate change assessments has been a primary motivator for increasing the accuracy of climate model outputs, particularly those modeling the climatic response to anthropogenically produced, radiatively active constituents. Similarly, advances in the ability to predict seasonal-to-interannual climate variations associated with the El Niño/Southern Oscillation have led to public and private demands for skillful predictions and for research on better ways of using the information (NRC, 1999c).
Increased societal demands for climate information products have had significant impacts on the research community, which, both by limited capacity and by culture, is increasingly unable to respond to these demands. Because the need for climate model products affects the current state of climate modeling science, a discussion of the impacts of these demands on the research community is included in this report. This situation is organizationally similar to that in the weather arena, where daily and weekly forecasts are provided for widespread public and private use by a service organization dedicated to that task, rather than by solicitation of proposals from the weather research community. The production of operational products in the weather community provides an organizational and institutional paradigm that can be applied to the climate situation.
This report will analyze the present capability for climate modeling in the United States, the current ability to respond to assessment, and prediction requirements. It will describe the new requirements being placed on high-end climate modeling and discuss the computer, human, and organizational resources needed to respond to these requirements. This is followed by findings and recommendations designed to improve the ability of the climate community to meet these new challenges. The report ends with a vision for how climate research, global observations, and comprehensive climate modeling could be combined for the benefit of science and society.
The term “demand” is not used in this report in the strictest economic sense. Additionally, references to societal demands, imperatives, and needs in this report are based on panel members' individual experiences and interactions with specific societal uses as well as the perceptions of potential users of a broad range of climate modeling products and services. These terms also reflect the increased reliance of regional and national assessments on climate models. This latter point is addressed further in chapter 4.