referenced digital information about the Earth system (atmosphere, biosphere, hydrosphere, lithosphere) is available to a myriad of users for the benefit of society. Supporting the vision of an Earth Information System are many exciting new opportunities in space-based remote sensing (Chapter 4). A summary of these opportunities is followed by a discussion of past and present approaches, or transition pathways, from research to operations (Chapter 5). Case studies of successful and unsuccessful transitions from research to operations (Appendix B) provide empirical evidence of the problems and, more importantly, the best practices, associated with the transitioning process. The report concludes with a proposal for a mechanism for achieving more effective transitions (Chapter 6) and a summary of the committee’s findings and recommendations (Chapter 7). Information about U.S. missions, biographical information on the committee members, and a list of acronyms are included as Appendixes C, D, and E, respectively.

Advances in the ability to observe Earth from space and to assimilate these observations into high-resolution, coupled Earth system models form the scientific and technological basis for the vision of an Earth Information System—a complete, geo-referenced quantitative description of the Earth system that supports a variety of applications and users. A robust and flexible mechanism for transitioning research and technological advances quickly into operations is necessary to achieve the vision in a timely fashion and to maximize the return on research investment.

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