more in line with the rapid pace of scientific and technological developments. This would mean that a greater portion of the nation’s considerable investment in the science and technology of the atmospheric sciences would result in societal benefit. This would in turn lead to the enhanced development of markets. Ultimately addressing the policy problem associated with the provision of weather and climate services will contribute to the useful application of science to national needs.
The general policy problem has unique features in the context of the different participants in the nation’s weather and climate services enterprise. To summarize:
The NWS and its private sector partners have made frequent attempts to establish means for judging appropriate roles and responsibilities, yet without complete success. The existing policy, the NWS partnerships statement of 1991, is widely perceived by those inside and outside the NWS to be deficient in important respects.
Non-NWS government agencies comprise a hodgepodge of activities that with varying degrees of independence—from each other and the NWS—provide weather and climate services. With a few notable exceptions—the National Climate Act and the U.S. Global Change Research Act among them—there is little in the way of means for judging appropriate roles and responsibilities.
Academic institutions are seeing a great rush toward the commercialization of weather and climate research and development. There exists in academia a substantial body of precedent for judging appropriate roles and responsibilities. However, for the most part, such precedents do not appear to have been applied routinely across the atmospheric sciences.
The private sector is intimately integrated with and dependent upon each of the other sectors in varying degrees. Accurate understanding of the private sector cannot occur without a broad conception of the forest rather than of individual trees. Of note is the considerable (but unmeasured) market for weather and climate services that do not depend on centralized government provision of data, models, or forecasts.
The atmospheric sciences are at a crossroads in their historical evolution. For many years the development and delivery of products and services were almost exclusively a government activity. Today, the increasing perception and reality is that weather and climate services have real economic value in the marketplace. To best tap that value will require thinking comprehensively about the weather and climate enterprise, which has existed largely unchanged in important respects for more than a century.
Although specific recommendations for action needed to better tap the potential value of weather and climate services are beyond the scope of this