Finding: Improved and continuous access to environmental satellite data is of the highest priority for an increasingly broad and diverse range of users. Their needs include real-time imagery for decision making in response to events such as forest fires, floods, and storms; real-time data for assimilation into numerical weather prediction models; recent imagery for assessment of crops and determination of impacts on the environment resulting from diverse human activities such as marine and land transportation; and data coverage spanning many years that allows assessment of patterns and long-term trends in variables, such as sea-surface temperature, land use, urbanization, and soil moisture. Users of environmental satellite data include individuals; federal government agencies; state and local managers, planners, and governments; commercial producers of added-value products; and Web, print, and TV/radio broadcasters.

Recommendation 1: To best serve the diverse user communities and to meet growing demand, the committee recommends that, as soon as is practical, agencies providing environmental satellite data and products collaborate, with NASA and NOAA taking the lead, to develop an explicit strategy and implementation plan for data distribution systems, user interfaces, and increased user engagement and education. The goals of this plan should be to facilitate access to current, historical, and future environmental satellite data and products in ways that acknowledge the range of skills and evolving needs of the user communities and to support these users by providing appropriate supporting information and educational material.

Finding: The national and individual user requirements for multiyear climate system data sets from operational environmental satellites, as currently delineated in the Climate Change Science Program strategic plan,1 are placing special demands on current and future data archiving and utilization systems. These demands include more stringent requirements for accurate cross-platform radiometric calibration, new combinations of multiple satellite and instrument data, and algorithms for generating advanced biophysical variables. Detecting climate change trends often involves evaluating data at the limits of


U.S. Climate Change Science Program, Strategic Plan for the U.S. Climate Change Science Program: A Report by the Climate Change Science Program and the Subcommittee on Global Change Research, available at, accessed July 12, 2004.


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