Teams of experts should be formed to consider assimilation of data from multiple sensors and all sources, including commercial providers and international partners.
NOAA, working with the Climate Change Science Program and the international Group on Earth Observations, should create a climate data and information system to meet the challenge of ensuring the production, distribution, and stewardship of high-accuracy climate records from NPOESS and other relevant observational platforms.
As new Earth observation missions are developed, early attention should be given to developing the requisite data processing and distribution system, and data archive. Distribution of data should be free or at low cost to users, and provided in an easily accessible manner.
NASA should increase support for its research and analysis (R&A) program to a level commensurate with its ongoing and planned missions. Further, in light of the need for a healthy R&A program that is not mission-specific, as well as the need for mission-specific R&A, NASA’s space-based missions should have adequate R&A lines within each mission budget as well as mission-specific operations and data analysis. These R&A lines should be protected within the missions and not used simply as mission reserves to cover cost growth on the hardware side.
NASA, NOAA, and USGS should increase their support for Earth system modeling, including provision of high-performance computing facilities and support for scientists working in the areas of modeling and data assimilation.
A successful Earth information system should be planned and implemented around long-term strategies that encompass the life cycle from research to operations to applications. The strategy must include nurturing an effective workforce, informing the public, sharing in the development of a robust professional community, ensuring effective and long-term access to data, and much more. An active planning process must be pursued that focuses on effectively implementing the recommendations for the next decade as well as sustaining and building the knowledge and information system beyond the next decade.
Recommendation: A formal interagency planning and review process should be put into place that focuses on effectively implementing the recommendations made in the present decadal survey report and sustaining and building an Earth knowledge and information system for the next decade and beyond.
The training of future scientists who are needed to interpret observations and who will turn measurements into knowledge and information is exceedingly important. To ensure that effective and productive use of data is maximized, resources must be dedicated to an education and training program that spans a broad range of communities. A robust program that provides training in the use of these observations will result in highly varied societal benefits, including improved weather forecasts, more effective emergency management, better land-use planning, and so on.
Recommendation: NASA, NOAA, and USGS should pursue innovative approaches to educate and train scientists and users of Earth observations and applications. A particularly important role is to assist educators in inspiring and training students in the use of Earth observations and the information derived from them.