5
Collaborations Essential to the Atmospheric Sciences

The case studies in Chapter 2 of this report demonstrate the importance of the cross-disciplinary, interagency, international, and inter-sector aspects of those fields supported by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Division of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM). Collaborations are becoming increasingly important for the atmospheric sciences for several reasons. The scope of research questions has expanded, necessitating interactions with researchers from multiple other disciplines. As resources become more constrained, creative collaborations with other federal agencies and nations provide important opportunities to leverage investments in atmospheric research. Increasing societal demand for a wide range of weather, climate, and air quality forecast products and services create opportunities for collaboration with the private sector. In fact, the effective transition of research results to operational applications is a long-standing challenge for the atmospheric sciences community (NRC, 2000). In this chapter, the existing cross-disciplinary, interagency, international, and inter-sector collaborations fostered by ATM are described and opportunities for improvements are identified.

CROSS-DISCIPLINARY INTEGRATION

The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)/National Research Council (NRC) (1958) anticipated the necessity for atmospheric research to involve other disciplines, recognizing that specialists in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering should join meteorologists in the new National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Indeed, around 1960, NSF agreed to



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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences 5 Collaborations Essential to the Atmospheric Sciences The case studies in Chapter 2 of this report demonstrate the importance of the cross-disciplinary, interagency, international, and inter-sector aspects of those fields supported by the National Science Foundation’s (NSF’s) Division of Atmospheric Sciences (ATM). Collaborations are becoming increasingly important for the atmospheric sciences for several reasons. The scope of research questions has expanded, necessitating interactions with researchers from multiple other disciplines. As resources become more constrained, creative collaborations with other federal agencies and nations provide important opportunities to leverage investments in atmospheric research. Increasing societal demand for a wide range of weather, climate, and air quality forecast products and services create opportunities for collaboration with the private sector. In fact, the effective transition of research results to operational applications is a long-standing challenge for the atmospheric sciences community (NRC, 2000). In this chapter, the existing cross-disciplinary, interagency, international, and inter-sector collaborations fostered by ATM are described and opportunities for improvements are identified. CROSS-DISCIPLINARY INTEGRATION The National Academy of Sciences (NAS)/National Research Council (NRC) (1958) anticipated the necessity for atmospheric research to involve other disciplines, recognizing that specialists in physics, mathematics, chemistry, and engineering should join meteorologists in the new National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR). Indeed, around 1960, NSF agreed to

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences include the High Altitude Observatory in the new NCAR, as a condition of Walt Roberts’ becoming the first NCAR director, creating a partnership between NSF’s Division of Astronomical Sciences and ATM in funding solar physics that continues today. The definition of cross-disciplinary research for atmospheric sciences has expanded substantially over the past 45 years to include biology, oceanography, economics, and societal impacts in current research. As highlighted by several of the case studies in Chapter 2 and the personal testimonials in this report, some of the highest impact and most transformative atmospheric research has taken place at disciplinary boundaries, including the discovery of and research on chaos theory, stratospheric ozone depletion, and climate change. Major efforts in climate modeling have depended upon cross-disciplinary connections. Many challenges remain. There is a growing need for a better understanding of, for example, the linkages between chemistry, cloud microphysics, and climate; the linkages between oceans and the atmosphere; the relationship between climate and ice dynamics, including the key challenge of changes in the crysophere; the water cycle; paleoclimate; and the health impacts of atmospheric oxidants and fine particles. In addition, cross-disciplinary aspects of the coupling between the atmosphere and the land surface, including the biosphere and the carbon cycle, remain areas of focus. Studying the climate also presents challenges to standard NSF funding mechanisms because of the long time scales of many of the phenomena. Emerging research avenues linking economics and societal impacts are of great interest, but also represent the greatest challenge insofar as their maturity and readiness must be balanced with their potential. Aggressively pursuing cross-disciplinary research runs the risk of diverting funding from or diluting discipline-specific research. It is important to also recognize the inevitable tension between disciplinary and cross-disciplinary research. In the absence of increased funding, funding cross-disciplinary work will decrease the resources available for disciplinary research. Yet, there remain disciplinary problems which, if advances are not made, will hinder interdisciplinary research. Effective identification of cross-disciplinary opportunities and related funding mechanisms are critical to the health of the atmospheric sciences. Yet, some research questions that fall at the interface between two or more disciplines can challenge NSF funding structures even when evaluations show these to be prime opportunities for scientific advancement. Several members of the committee, as well as many members of the broader atmospheric research community who provided input to the study, recounted anecdotal information suggesting that some cross-disciplinary research is falling between NSF’s programmatic boundaries. These programmatic boundaries exist both within ATM (e.g., support for projects that straddle climate and weather research questions) and between ATM and other NSF

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences divisions. The difficulties that exist are with finding the right program to support cross-disciplinary research projects and in harmonizing the reviews from experts in different fields. ATM leadership stressed that they collaborate with their colleagues in other divisions to support cross-disciplinary proposals and work with Principal Investigators (PIs) to identify funding opportunities. The committee believes, however, that more needs to be done to foster cross-disciplinary research. This problem cannot be solved by ATM alone, but requires also a commitment from the rest of NSF. Indeed, a recent report by the National Academy of Public Administration recommended that NSF ensure that information about cross-disciplinary research opportunities and criteria for reviewing cross-disciplinary proposals are clearly communicated to investigators (NAPA, 2004). INTERAGENCY PROGRAMS Several government agencies support extramural research in the atmospheric sciences—including NASA, NOAA, EPA, DOE, DoD, and FAA—in part because atmospheric science is directly relevant to the missions of these agencies. Effective coordination of ATM with other agencies is important for meeting ATM’s goals for several reasons. First, many essential resources for atmospheric sciences research are created and supported by other agencies. These include space-based observational platforms, long-term monitoring efforts, and data archiving. Pooling resources supported by multiple agencies is an important component of many field programs. Second, whereas NSF’s funding has remained fairly stable in recent decades, these other agencies have had more volatility. Thus, scientists supported by the other agencies turn to NSF for support when those agencies have downswings in funding, placing a larger demand on the NSF support for the atmospheric sciences. In fact, Figures 3-3 and 4-2 suggest that such a phenomenon is happening now; support for atmospheric sciences at NASA and DoD has decreased in recent years while the number of proposals received by ATM has increased. Third, because ATM is the one source for federal funding that aspires to address research needs spanning all of atmospheric science, the division has additional responsibility to consider supporting critical areas of the science not addressed by other agencies for programmatic reasons. ATM participates in three major interagency programs that include atmospheric components (see Box 5-1): the U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP), the U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP), and the National Space Weather Program (NSWP). In addition, ATM supports the Center for Ocean, Land, and Atmosphere (COLA), a not-for-profit research institution in Calverton, Maryland, with interagency support that has some of the characteristics of the small centers discussed earlier. The

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 5-1 Major Interagency Programs The U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) is an interagency effort to better understand how climate, climate variability, and potential human-induced changes in climate affect the environment, natural resources, infrastructure, and the economy in our nation and the world.The guiding vision for CCSP is “a nation and the global community empowered with the science-based knowledge to manage the risks and opportunities of change in the climate and related environmental systems.” The U.S. Weather Research Program (USWRP) has the goal of improving the delivery and use of weather information. NSF’s role is to provide leadership and support for all aspects of the fundamental science components—experimental, theoretical, and numerical.The current three priority thrust areas are quantitative precipitation forecasting and estimation, hurricane landfall, and the optimal mix of observing systems. The overarching goal of the National Space Weather Program (NSWP) is to achieve an active, synergistic, interagency system to provide timely, accurate, and reliable space environment observations, specifications, and forecasts. The program includes contributions from the user community, operational forecasters, researchers, modelers, and experts in instruments, communications, and data processing and analysis. It is a partnership between NSF, NASA, DoD, NOAA, DOE, the Department of the Interior, academia, and industry. NSF provides support to advance state-of-the-art instruments and data gathering techniques, to understand the physical processes, to develop predictive models, and to perform detailed analysis of data associated with past events that have caused significant impacts to space systems. The Center for Ocean, Land, and Atmosphere (COLA) is devoted to understanding the predictability of Earth’s current climate fluctuations on seasonal to decadal timescales using state-of-the-art, comprehensive models of the global atmosphere, world oceans, and land surface. COLA activities include (a) independently evaluating the climate variability characteristics of the nation’s climate change models, (b) providing leadership on prediction of climate variability on seasonal-to-interannual time scales, (c) characterizing the impact of long-term climate change on climate variability, and (d) providing information technology infrastructure for efficient exchange of climate model and observational data. COLA is supported by NSF, NOAA, and NASA.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences division contributes to these efforts by supporting scientists who are doing research on related topics and in some cases providing funds for central coordination of the programs. ATM’s involvement in the CCSP, USWRP, NSWP, and COLA commits the division to ongoing support of research that addresses the goals of these programs. A possible concern has been that these targeted initiatives would constrain the community to follow certain lines of inquiry, possibly channeling emphasis away from other important research areas. However, this has not proved to be the case in the initiatives listed in Box 5-1. In fact, these initiatives have all brought new funds into ATM, thus supporting more investigators and resulting in excellent science. Many of these funds have been distributed through PI grants, and significant funds within CCSP have gone to NCAR, helping to support climate system modeling. Interagency coordination is a long-standing challenge for federally funded research in the atmospheric sciences, as recognized in many previous reports (e.g., NRC, 1998b, 2003a), and requires the commitment of other agencies along with NSF. Yet it is essential to ensure that the critical science issues identified by the programs in Box 5-1, as well as other issues that require interagency coordination, are adequately addressed. Over the decades, interagency coordination within these programs and other interagency efforts, such as the Committee on Environment and Natural Resources Subcommittee on Air Quality Research, has exhibited mixed levels of success. The success depends in part on the leadership of each program, the willingness of the participating agencies to work toward mutual objectives, and the extent to which opportunities for coordination are clearly communicated to the research community. Typically, these interagency programs do not assert control over the budgets of individual agencies, but instead facilitate coordination by defining shared research agendas to which each agency contributes. Interagency activities in operational meteorology and supporting research have been coordinated by the federally mandated Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology (OFCM) since 1964. Fifteen federal departments and agencies currently participate in OFCM’s coordination infrastructure, which includes program councils, committees, working groups, and joint action groups staffed and populated by representatives from the federal agencies. OFCM focuses on coordinating operational weather observing and forecasting requirements. In addition, it produces annual reports on federal investments in weather-related activities and research and, as needed, holds workshops and produces reports on specific issues. Like the other interagency coordination efforts, OFCM has had varied effectiveness over its tenure. ATM is to be commended for its participation in the large interagency efforts described in Box 5-1. Furthermore, ATM program directors have

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences been proactive about working with their colleagues from other agencies to support cross-agency research efforts (e.g., Box 5-2), in particular, field programs (see Table 4-4). The committee is concerned, however, that ATM does not appear to have a strategic approach to its interagency activities. Thus, it is not clear to the research community exactly how ATM intends to contribute to large interagency programs, and interactions between program directors from NSF and other agencies appear to have an ad hoc nature. A more strategic approach is especially important for addressing large research problems that span the research investments of multiple agencies, such as climate or air quality, and for research avenues that have significant potential applications for operational capabilities, such as weather, for which coordination with mission-oriented agencies such as the National Weather Service is critical. The inclusion of mechanisms for interagency program participation in the ATM strategic plan would both increase the transparency and decrease the ad hoc nature of NSF’s approach to these interagency collaborations. INTERNATIONAL RESEARCH ENVIRONMENT It has long been realized that, because the atmosphere is global in extent, the meteorological discipline should span national boundaries. An International Meteorological Organization was founded in 1873 and was succeeded in 1950 by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) organized under the umbrella of the United Nations. The WMO has fostered international cooperation on operational weather observations, for example, to ensure global coverage from satellite-based observations of the atmosphere, and has advocated free and open exchange of weather data. This cooperative international perspective has resulted in the recent establishment of international agreements for the development of a Global Earth Observing System of Systems (GEOSS; http://earthobservation.org/) and through international collaboration on the development of new research programs such as the World Climate Research Programme’s (WCRP’s) Coordinated Observation and Prediction of the Earth System (COPES; http://copes.ipsl.jussieu.fr/index.html), which recognizes that “there is a seamless prediction problem from weather through to climate timescales, the necessity to address the broader climate/Earth system and the increasing ability to do this, [and] new technology for observations and computing.” Many of the major field programs over the past 50 years have involved international coordination (e.g., see Table 4-4), and several international organizations have been established to facilitate coordination of observational and other research efforts. WMO coordinated international atmospheric research programs in the past, participating in the International

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 5-2 National Lightning Detection Network Richard Orville Department of Atmospheric Sciences Texas A&M University, College Station It is not widely known that RonTaylor, NSF program director for physical meteorology, was instrumental in the start of the National Lightning Detection Network (NLDN) through the grants program in the years 1980–1983. In 1980, when I was at SUNY– Albany, Ron awarded me a grant that funded the purchase of three direction finders in the northeastern United States.The three direction finders were installed in New York in 1981 followed by two more in Pennsylvania the following year. NASA meanwhile installed a network of three direction finders in Virginia.We figured out how to connect all sensors to produce a network of eight direction finders covering the northeast in late 1982. By early 1983, the Electric Power Research Institute (EPRI) noticed our research, reviewed our progress, and initiated annual funding to us in June 1983 at approximately $2 million. They asked us to expand our network and join with the National Severe Storms Laboratory and the Bureau of Land Management networks to cover the United States.The private-sector EPRI funding continued for the next six years until we completed the continental U.S.coverage in 1989 at a total investment of $12 million. And, it all started with Ron Taylor, NSF program manager, funding me as a Principal Investigator through a three-year NSF grant. In subsequent years, the NLDN was transferred to a private company in Tucson, which was subsequently acquired by Vaisala, Inc.The network has today expanded to approximately 190 sensors and covers North America.It is a remarkable success story of cooperation between the private sector (EPRI) and the government (NSF). Geophysical Year (1957–1958), establishing a Tropical Cyclone Project in 1971, carrying out GATE in 1974, and coordinating the GARP Global Weather and Monsoon Experiments in 1978–1979. GATE provides a good illustration of the potential complexity of international atmospheric research: it involved 40 research ships, 12 research aircraft, many moorings, and 72 countries. The WCRP was established as a successor to GARP by WMO, the International Council for Science (ICSU), and the Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission. The WCRP has organized a succession of large projects, including the TOGA program running from 1984 to 1995; the GEWEX, which continues today; the international CLIVAR program; the study of Stratospheric Processes and their Role in Climate; the World Ocean Circulation Experiment; and the Climate and Cryosphere.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences A lightning sensor with the top removed showing the crossed loops that detect the azimuth to a distant lightning flash. The International Geosphere-Biosphere Programme (IGBP) was established by ICSU to coordinate research activities on “the interactive physical, chemical, and biological processes that regulate the total Earth System, the unique environment that it provides for life, the changes that are occurring in this system, and the manner in which they are influenced by human actions” (http://www.igbp.kva.se/). Of particular relevance to atmospheric science, IGBP activities include the International Global Atmospheric Chemistry project, the Integrated Land Ecosystem-Atmosphere Processes Study, and the Surface Ocean-Lower Atmosphere Study. In addition, IGBP has initiated two studies to examine the Earth system as a whole: (1) Analysis, Integration and Modeling of the Earth System, which focuses on improving our understanding of the role of human perturbations to the Earth’s bio-

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences geochemical cycles and their interactions with the coupled physical climate system; and (2) Past Global Changes, which is focused on understanding past climate changes. Several activities act to coordinate modeling internationally. In part, these collaborations are directed at the assessment of climate change under the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). However, they also foster joint efforts to improve numerical models of the atmosphere and parameterizations of atmospheric processes in these models, under the aegis of international research programs such as GEWEX (e.g., the GEWEX Cloud System Study effort) and CLIVAR, and by bringing operational weather and climate modeling centers together. U.S. scientists work closely with scientists from other countries for the model execution, data analysis, and the model/data syntheses that are used to characterize the science included in assessments (e.g., IPCC, 2001) and WMO/UNEP ozone assessment reports (e.g., WMO, 2003). Models, satellite observations, and computing resources are shared across national boundaries. Atmospheric sciences has led the development of Earth system models which couple climate, oceans, land, and atmospheric chemistry, geology, and biogeochemistry. Earth system model development is now going on around the world with France, Germany, Japan, the United Kingdom, and the United States playing important roles. Many model runs are now done using ensembles of models and initial conditions to characterize uncertainties in our understanding. Model and data comparisons rely on data collected around the globe and on observational programs that are coordinated and shared internationally. Groups organized under the WCRP and WMO focus on the development and evaluation of models; for example, numerical techniques and intercomparisons of models is the focus of the Working Group on Coupled Modeling. Expanding coordination of modeling activities, forecasting, archiving of model output, and exchange of data is crucial for atmospheric sciences. The space environment affects the entire globe, so it is not surprising that ATM research initiatives in solar-terrestrial science have a significant international dimension. The NSWP, in addition to the interagency cooperation, maintains links and collaboration to similar programs in other countries. The National Space Weather Program Implementation Plan (July 2000) specifically calls for collaboration with entities such as the International Space Environment Service and the European Space Agency. This has led to participation in workshops on space weather, such as the December 2004 European Space Weather Week, which was modeled on the highly successful annual NOAA Space Environment Center conference. The SuperDARN network of incoherent scatter radars in both the northern and southern polar regions is another example of international collaboration on the part of ATM in the area of solar-terrestrial science. Likewise,

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences ATM is one of 22 institutions supporting the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope under the leadership of the National Solar Observatory. ATM has also provided financial support for the International Coordination Office for the Scientific Committee On Solar-TErrestrial Physics-Climate And Weather of the Sun-Earth System (SCOSTEP-CAWSES) Program. The U.S. atmospheric research community works within this international, intergovernmental fabric. Large field programs are discussed, planned, and approved years in advance of their going into the field. Data collected in these programs are coordinated and shared internationally. Analysis and modeling activities are also often coordinated by the United States and international steering and oversight groups of these large programs, such as CLIVAR, that work under the supervision of the WCRP. This advanced and increasing level of coordination across the nations has many benefits to all participants. However, it also creates the need for the U.S. funding agencies to make, to the extent possible, commitments of facilities, research funding, and researchers on timetables constrained by the multiple, interlocking activities of U.S. and international atmospheric scientists. Many large international field programs are developed by international bodies, the projects of the WCRP and IGBP being especially notable in this regard, and U.S. participation is often vital to the success of these field programs. This presents a challenge to ATM because they receive proposals from U.S. investigators to participate in these field programs and, in many cases, significant budgets are involved, but at the same time the ATM budget remains relatively flat. ATM has tried to cope with this situation by knowing when such large international field programs will occur and to anticipate that some of their overall budget will be used to support the participation of U.S. investigators in these programs. There are also demands on ATM investigators to produce large numbers of IPCC climate model runs, and the NSF participation in this mainly involves NCAR staff. ATM has approached this situation in a largely ad hoc, but reasonably successful, manner so far. It is not clear that this ad hoc approach will be desired in the future when pressures on ATM funding will likely increase. A proactive and judicious mechanism, including the ability to commit with long lead time the participation of U.S. facilities and investigators, is needed for coordinated, efficient, and effective participation in international programs. Such a mechanism would help U.S. investigators and international bodies more fully understand the basis for ATM funding decisions and hence plan accordingly. In particular, this mechanism would be useful for evaluating potential ATM involvement in international field campaigns; in this case, existing international bodies (such as WCRP, the World Weather Research Program, and WMO) could help determine the merits of potential field campaigns.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences The United States has been a leader in supporting atmospheric research over the past decades, but recent years have seen increasing investments, sophistication, and leadership from other nations as well. The European Union and other countries are more frequently initiating and leading major field programs. Many U.S. capabilities for observing and modeling the atmosphere and climate are matched or exceeded by Europe, the United Kingdom, and Japan. Some key examples of advances include the EU Framework programs such as ENSEMBLES, Japan’s Frontier Research System for Global Change, and the European Space Agency satellite SCIAMACHY. This shift provides opportunities to leverage investments by ATM with those of other nations and also creates challenges in terms of coordinating facilities and other resources for joint studies and access to data. Indeed, the role for ATM will vary depending on the international program, ranging from taking on a leadership role or supporting international program offices to contributing to programs led by other countries. FACILITATING COLLABORATIONS With the increasing importance of cross-disciplinary, interagency, and international research to the advancement of the atmospheric sciences, scientists will need help to navigate interagency, intra-agency, and international boundaries and overcome the many challenges to successfully finding the support for such work. A more effective public interface and process is needed to facilitate and guide investigators seeking support of cross-disciplinary, interagency, or international research. There should be guidelines for the proposal process for these efforts. NSF ATM’s public interface, its Web site (http://www.nsf.gov/div/index.jsp?div=ATM), provides potential PIs information on specific, active funding opportunities. Some of these opportunities are flagged as cross-cutting and the Web pages point to a partnership of NSF program managers in and out of ATM. However, the ATM Web site does not specifically encourage or guide those who would seek to grow or obtain funding for participation in a cross-disciplinary, interagency, or international research program. It lacks any discussion of how to establish a dialog with ATM toward that end and then how links between the ATM and other divisions of NSF, other agencies or research programs in other countries should be pursued. The main Web page should provide a link to a discussion of the process, perhaps following the example set by UCAR’s introduction to field project support (http://www.ucar.edu/communications/quarterly/summer05/president.html) that provides an explanation of the process and a generic timeline.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences INTER-SECTOR COLLABORATION As the atmospheric sciences evolve there will be increasing opportunities to exploit the skills and resources pertinent to the atmospheric sciences resident in the full range of academic, governmental, and private-sector organizations. The logical need for more intensive inter-sector collaborations arises from at least two drivers. The first is societal demand for an increasing range of weather, climate, and air quality forecast services, which can only be provided by transitioning atmospheric science research into timely data and agile models supporting operational forecasts (NRC, 2000, 2003b). The second is the increasing complexity of atmospheric sciences research, which requires ever more complex measurement systems and comprehensive computational and information management tools to meet the challenges of understanding the global atmosphere and its interactions with the biosphere, including the oceans and terrestrial surfaces as well as with solar radiation and the near-space environment (NRC, 1998b). The role of academic researchers, supplemented by government laboratories and a few private-sector research organizations, in performing atmospheric science research in the United States is well established and their successes are widely recognized (e.g., NRC, 2003b). Government organizations have traditionally provided a range of weather and climate forecast products, now supplemented with hundreds of private-sector companies that offer diverse forecast portfolios (NRC, 2003b). The challenges of developing and operating the increasingly complex technologies required for successful atmospheric research and the need to repay society’s investment in that research with a broader, more accurate, and more timely range of forecast services is opening up opportunities to engage a larger number of private-sector organizations within the atmospheric sciences. Private-sector organizations can contribute needed skills, facilities, and resources to a range of atmospheric research tasks, including instrument development; deployment and maintenance (e.g., Box 5-3); provision of commercial measurement platforms (ships, aircraft, satellites, etc.); and development, operation, and maintenance of supercomputers and other information technology tools and management systems. In fact, as a prime consumer of supercomputer services, atmospheric and climate research centers, including NCAR, have historically had a productive relationship with corporations that develop advanced computing platforms and the software that makes them useful. As the pace of innovation in information technology quickens and computer obsolescence may be measured in months rather than years, a simple customer/vendor relationship between computationally intense atmospheric research centers and leading computer companies will seldom be appropriate.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences BOX 5-3 Development of the Dropwindsonde and Radar Wind Profiler— a Public–Private Partnership George Frederick, Strategic Development Manager Vaisala Measurement Systems M.S., Meteorology, University of Wisconsin at Madison For the past 13 years I have been associated with several applications of scientific research that one way or another have benefited from NSF support.While a Senior Scientist for Radian Corporation in the 1990s we licensed an Omega dropwindsonde developed by the NSF-funded National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR).We adapted the sensors for commercial production, produced these instruments and marketed them to the U.S.Air Force for use as part of their airborne weather reconnaissance program.A key element of the airborne weather reconnaissance program was fixing the position and strength of tropical storms and hurricanes threatening the North American mainland and Pacific islands. The Omega dropwindsonde was the most important measurement device in this process as it measured the winds and central pressure of these storms.We also marketed these instruments to the United Kingdom and other countries as a part of their research programs. Finally, several in-house spin-off efforts were developed that resulted in adaptations of the technology for special applications.None of this would have been possible without the original NSF funding of basic NCAR research and development. While I was still with Radian (later Radian International, and then a part of URS Corporation) we licensed through a Cooperative Research and Development Agreement the radar wind profiler technology developed at the NOAA laboratories in Boulder. NCAR was using these radars at the same time for research and had developed a number of enhancements that we later licensed. These included the improved signal processing board named PIRAQ and the enhanced signal processing algorithm, NIMA. Both of these upgrades were incorporated into the overall architecture with the assistance of NCAR scientists to provide all users the benefits of improved radar profiling technology. Vaisala Oyj, an international company headquartered in Helsinki, Finland, acquired our instrument group from URS Corporation in 2001 and inherited the radar profiler developments mentioned above. The company also has licensed two other NCAR-developed technologies, an upgraded dropwindsonde with GPS technology and the Low Level Wind Shear Alerting System technique. Both were adapted for commercial production and subsequent sale to a wide variety of users worldwide. Vaisala commits a significant amount of its profits to original or cooperative research and development.It also has received some matching funds from a Finnish government institute,TEKES.Taken together with the research supported by NSF, these company contributions have enabledVaisala to maintain and grow its status as the world leader in meteorological instruments and solutions. Leveraging the NSF funding of institutions like NCAR and the research of individual scientists that contribute to the base understanding of the technology have provided the highest quality meteorological products and services available today.Vaisala’s customers in turn use our products and services to help satisfy the safety and economic needs of society.

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Strategic Guidance for the National Science Foundation‘s Support of the Atmospheric Sciences Merging organizations with different cultures and diverse goals into effective teams can be a challenging management task. While many private-sector companies share the desires to advance knowledge and serve society that motivates the best academic and government organizations, they also face the requirement to make a profit that will allow them to sustain operations and produce a return on the investments that established them. Of course, while the profit motive often affects the actions of even “nonprofit” organizations whose staffs and officers may hope to benefit financially from any intellectual property developed, it is often more compelling in a for-profit organization. Thus, while the intertwined issues of proprietary information and intellectual property can complicate relations in any research team, they are more likely to require attention in teams that include private-sector for-profit organizations. If future atmospheric science activities are to benefit fully from inter-sector collaborations involving private-sector contributions, research team partners will need to develop agreements to define, recognize, and protect the proprietary intellectual property of each team member before the work gets started. Fortunately, many established tools—including proprietary information agreements, teaming agreements, and licensing agreements— have long been used to guide activities among private-sector organizations and can be adapted. In addition, many government organizations have developed tools, such as cooperative research and development agreements, to guide their research collaborations with other, nongovernmental organizations. However, while paper agreements can define rights and obligations, successful collaborations require a culture in which individuals understand, respect, and implement them. The effective performance of high-level research in the atmospheric sciences and the development and delivery of the range of products that society needs enabled by that research will often require inter-sector teams of scientists and engineers. The challenge of building successful teams involving academic, government, and private-sector contributors will require significant management skills, including recognition and accommodation of cultural and motivational differences. Fair Weather: Effective Partnerships in Weather and Climate Services (NRC, 2003b) offers many specific recommendations for how to approach these challenges in the production of weather and climate services. Careful attention to proprietary issues, including intellectual property management, will be required. However, the potential benefits of inter-sector collaborations can greatly exceed the management challenges that will have to be met to make them effective.