Key Elements of Successful Climate Data Record Generation Programs

CDR Organizational Elements

  1. A high-level leadership council within NOAA is needed to oversee the process of creating climate data records from satellite data.

  2. An advisory council is needed to provide input to the process on behalf of the climate research community and other stakeholders.

  3. Each fundamental CDR (FCDR) should be created by a specifically appointed team of CDR experts.

  4. Science teams should be formed within broad disciplinary theme areas to prescribe algorithms for the thematic CDRs (TCDRs) and oversee their generation.

CDR Generation Elements

  1. FCDRs must be generated with the highest possible accuracy and stability.

  2. Sensors must be thoroughly characterized before and after launch, and their performance should be continuously monitored throughout their lifetime.

  3. Sensors should be thoroughly calibrated, including nominal calibration of sensors in-orbit, vicarious calibration with in situ data, and satellite-to-satellite cross-calibration.

  4. TCDRs should be selected based on well-defined criteria established by the Advisory Council.

  5. A mechanism should be established whereby scientists, decision makers, and other stakeholders can propose TCDRs and provide feedback that is considered in the selection of TCDRs.

  6. Validated TCDRs must have well-defined levels of uncertainty.

  7. An ongoing program of correlative in situ measurements is required to validate TCDRs.

Sustaining CDR Elements

  1. Resources should be made available for reprocessing the CDRs as new information and improved algorithms are available, while also maintaining the forward processing of data in near real time.

  2. Provisions should be included to receive feedback from the scientific community.

  3. A long-term commitment of resources should be made to the generation and archival of CDRs and associated documentation and metadata.

NOAA is to be commended for endorsing the CDR concept, embracing the importance of long-term CDR stewardship, and accepting the lead role in the generation and sustenance of critical climate records in coordination with agency, academic, and private sector partners. NOAA has taken the initiative in developing an implementation plan. Such a plan will be indispensable to the success of the forthcoming CDR program. The members of the NRC Committee on Climate Data Records from NOAA Operational Satellites are pleased to see NOAA’s interest in engaging the broader satellite and climate communities in their plan. Furthermore, NOAA’s positive response to panel recommendations regarding the organization, generation, management, and overarching stewardship of a CDR program is promising.

It is encouraging to see current and proposed NOAA budgetary support for an SDS program and for the Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS). Both are vital to the fulfillment of NOAA’s climate mission, and neither can succeed independently. However it is critical to maintain a distinction between the stewardship of scientific data and scientists having oversight of data stewardship. The former should be the responsibility of CLASS, while scientific vigilance should be within the province of SDS. A close and on-going

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