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Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling
requiring a dependable infrastructure with a high level of organization and centralization.
During its deliberations, the panel identified the key issues influencing the effectiveness of U.S. climate modeling. The following sections identify these issues and outline the panel's recommendations. These recommendations are based on input from a survey distributed to many of the U.S. modeling centers, a workshop held in Washington, D.C., and the expertise of the panel and address some of the missing elements in U.S. climate modeling.
The Need for Centralized Operations
Information about future climate is crucial for addressing numerous societal needs. Different communities and subsets of society require distinct climate-related products. Thus, centralized modeling activities under the auspices of a single agency are needed to assemble and distribute the necessary climate information and products to diverse user groups. The United States has not as yet centralized its climate activities.
Centralized modeling activities should have close linkages to research and user groups and ought to include model building, quality control and validation of models and products, product design and regular and systematic product production, and integration of observational data. Centralized activities require computational systems adequate to address these problems. Although the operational activities would be centralized, they should take advantage of research activities external to operations, including model development and analysis, diagnostics, and interpretation.
The European Centre for Medium-Range Weather Forecasts (ECMWF) is one model of a successful dedicated modeling facility. The center was established as a European cooperative weather forecasting venture. During its lifetime it has produced some of the highest-quality, highest-resolution forecasts from any modeling group. It is not clear, however, that this model translates into leadership in modeling research or research into the long-term aspects of the climate system. Although this model may be successful in Europe, it is not clear that it can be applied to the more decentralized U.S. climate modeling community.
Many of the measurements and observations used to define climate are made in the arena of weather prediction, and many of the atmospheric processes and feedbacks that influence short-term weather contribute to climate. Therefore, the panel recognizes that strong weather forecasting capabilities are necessary preconditions for effective climate model development, and close ties should be maintained between climate and weather modeling activities.