challenging areas: (1) the value of and need for environmental satellite data, (2) the distribution of environmental satellite data, and (3) data access and utilization; it also includes still-pertinent findings and recommendations that will be considered and updated in this committee’s final report. However, some of the findings are particularly relevant to set the stage for this report, including (in brief):

  • Improved and continuous access to environmental satellite data is of the highest priority for an increasingly broad and diverse range of users.

  • The national and individual user requirements for multiyear climate system data sets from operational satellites are placing special demands on current and future data archiving and utilization systems.

  • The Comprehensive Large Array-data Stewardship System (CLASS) is being designed5 by NOAA to catalog, archive, and disseminate NOAA environmental satellite data. Given the magnitude of this effort—and considering the growing volume, types, and complexity of environmental satellite data; the increasingly large and diverse user base; and expectations for wider and more effective use of data—NOAA needs to have a comprehensive understanding of the full scope of the technical requirements for data cataloging, archiving, and dissemination and needs to ensure that implementation is based on that knowledge. Key to successful implementation of a strong system that will serve operational users and the nation well are detailed planning, proactive follow-through, and NOAA’s incorporation of lessons learned from previously developed, similarly scaled initiatives with similar system requirements.

  • Data from diverse satellite platforms and for different environmental variables must often be retrieved from different sources, and these retrievals often yield data sets in different formats with different resolution and gridding. The multiple steps currently required to retrieve and manipulate environmental satellite data sets are an impediment to their use.

  • Early and ongoing cooperation and dialog among users, developers of satellite remote sensing hardware and software, and U.S. and international research and operational satellite data providers is essential for the rapid and successful utilization of environmental satellite data. Many of the greatest environmental satellite data utilization success stories have a common theme: the treatment of research and operations as a continuum, with a relentless team focus on excellence with the freedom to continuously improve and evolve.

A number of other reports were of particular importance in helping this committee begin its work. Global Change Science Requirements for Long-Term Archiving: Report of the Workshop, October 28-30, 1998 (USGCRP, 1999), provides a good example of preliminary high-level guidance on long-term archiving of Earth observation data and derived products, lessons learned from current and past experiences, and the guiding principles and essential function necessary for any program to be successful. The report Recommendation for Space Data System Standards: Reference Model for an Open Archival Information a System, (Consultative Committee for Space Data Systems, 2002) is an internationally developed set of


CLASS is still being developed; the Committee will address this effort more explicitly in its final report.

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