H
Letter from Vice Admiral Lautenbacher to Administrator O’Keefe, July 23, 2004

United States Department of Commerce

The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere

Washington, D.C. 20230

JUL 23 2004

The Honorable Sean O’Keefe

Administrator,

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

Two Independence Square
300 E Street, S.W.
Washington, D.C. 20546

Dear Sean,

I am writing to document the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other users concerns about the recent decision by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to terminate the Tropical Rainfall Mapping Mission (TRMM).

TRMM data has had a positive impact on NOAA’s numerical weather prediction models, improving the forecast accuracies for hurricanes, tropical storms, and other tropical weather disturbances affecting the United States and its possessions. Given that we are in the active phase of the typhoon season in the east Pacific and are entering the active phase of the Atlantic hurricane season, I am



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OCR for page 88
Assessment of the Benefits of Extending the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission: A Perspective from the Research and Operations Communities - Interim Report H Letter from Vice Admiral Lautenbacher to Administrator O’Keefe, July 23, 2004 United States Department of Commerce The Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere Washington, D.C. 20230 JUL 23 2004 The Honorable Sean O’Keefe Administrator, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Two Independence Square 300 E Street, S.W. Washington, D.C. 20546 Dear Sean, I am writing to document the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other users concerns about the recent decision by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to terminate the Tropical Rainfall Mapping Mission (TRMM). TRMM data has had a positive impact on NOAA’s numerical weather prediction models, improving the forecast accuracies for hurricanes, tropical storms, and other tropical weather disturbances affecting the United States and its possessions. Given that we are in the active phase of the typhoon season in the east Pacific and are entering the active phase of the Atlantic hurricane season, I am

OCR for page 88
Assessment of the Benefits of Extending the Tropical Rainfall Measuring Mission: A Perspective from the Research and Operations Communities - Interim Report requesting we explore a way to continue the operation of TRMM through the end of this year’s hurricane season, November 30, 2004. In addition, the highly successful NOAA/NASA partnership has led NOAA to implement QUIKSCAT data in our operational models, and begin assimilating AIRS and MODIS data into operational models by the end of the year, another major success for the NASA/NOAA Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JCSDA). Given our growing dependence on these NASA satellite instruments, I would appreciate an opportunity to work with you to develop a more formal mechanism for dialogue with NASA well in advance of any termination date for research data streams. I believe such a joint consultative process would also help to support the growing leadership role of the United States in the Global Earth Observing System of Systems. Making the maximum use of research and operational satellite data, as well as joint planning for transitioning successful research instruments to operational status, will demonstrate a sustained commitment to advancing earth sciences. If you concur, I recommend for your consideration that Greg Withee, NOAA Assistant Administrator for Satellites and Information Services, dialog with Ghassem Asrar and Al Diaz, in order to find a more effective way, perhaps through a joint working group, to explore such research to operations issues as TRMM, and to recommend solutions. I look forward to enhancing the great value the NOAA/NASA partnership brings to science and the American public. With great appreciation and respect for the strong working relationship that has developed between NOAA and NASA under your leadership! Sincerely, Conrad C. Lautenbacher, Jr. Vice Admiral, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Under Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere