The history of technology shows that changes come in two main forms: those that can be reasonably well predicted and those that cannot.3 Predictability falls off rapidly with time, so the focus here is on technological changes in the weather enterprise that are occurring now or that may occur over the next five to eight years. There are many computer and communications technologies that may have an impact on both the weather enterprise and the relationships among the partners. Examples include modeling, networking technologies, visualization, human-computer interfaces, and technologies for storing, structuring, and exchanging data. This report focuses on technologies that were deemed to have particular impact on partnerships. Predictable technological changes will have (somewhat) predictable impacts on public, private, and academic partnerships. However, there will surely be surprises as well, which will place unexpected stresses on existing partnerships and create new opportunities for cooperation. In either case, the weather and climate services offered in 2008 or 2010 will likely be very different from the services offered today. A longer view taken by a previous National Research Council (NRC) committee (Box 5.1) is consistent with the trends described in this report.

CHANGES IN THE SECOND HALF OF THE TWENTIETH CENTURY

Fifty years ago weather observations were made with in situ instruments or by eye or ear and plotted by hand on paper weather maps (Table 1.1). Observations were analyzed subjectively, and forecasts were based largely on the empirical skill of government forecasters. Weather and cli-

   

Council, 2002, Broadband: Bringing Home the Bits, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 336 pp.; National Research Council, 2001, The Internet’s Coming of Age, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 236 pp.; National Research Council, 2001, Embedded,Everywhere: A Research Agenda for Networked Systems of Embedded Computers, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 236 pp.; National Research Council, 1999, Adequacy ofClimate Observing Systems, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 51 pp.; National Research Council, 1999, Assessment of NASA’s Plans for the Post-2002 Earth ObservingMissions, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 49 pp.; National Research Council, 1999, A Vision for the National Weather Service: Road Map for the Future, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 76 pp.; National Research Council, 1998, The Atmo-spheric Sciences Entering the Twenty-First Century, National Academy Press, Washington, D.C., 384 pp.

3  

Predictable changes include semiconductor technology for which Moore’s Law has since 1965 predicted the improvement in semiconductor performance and price, with consequent geometric improvements in computation and data communication. Technological surprises include the World Wide Web and the pervasive presence of the Internet in our lives, neither of which was foreseen a decade ago.



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