The Prospectus (Appendix B) describes the topic, audience, intended use, and questions to be addressed by SAP 1.3, as summarized here:

This proposed CCSP report will be in the form of a synthesis and assessment product that (a) summarizes the present status of national and international climate reanalysis efforts, and (b) discusses key research findings on the strengths and limitations of the current reanalysis products for describing and analyzing the causes of climate variations and trends that have occurred during the time period of the reanalysis records (roughly the past half-century). The proposed report will describe how reanalysis products have been used in documenting, integrating, and advancing our knowledge of climate system behavior, as well as in ascertaining significant remaining uncertainties in descriptions and physical understanding of the climate system.

By identifying key limitations of the current generation of reanalyses, the report will be useful to policymakers in identifying and understanding the causes for remaining uncertainties, and for climate program managers in developing priorities for future observing, modeling, and analysis systems required to advance national and international efforts to describe and attribute causes of observed climate variations and change. The assessment of the capabilities and limitations of current reanalysis products for different applications will also be of value to users of reanalysis products.

The assessment of present uses and limitation of reanalysis products for attribution of causes of observed climate variations and trends will provide a basis for decision makers and policymakers to understand the present level of confidence and uncertainties in describing how the climate system has varied in the recent historical past, and how this has enabled, and in some cases limited, our ability to identify the causes of such variations. The report will also provide useful information to help the scientific community and public to understand the causes of past climate variations, especially for those events that have high societal, economic, or environmental impacts, such as large and prolonged droughts.

According to the guidance provided in the prospectus, SAP 1.3 is to be written in a style consistent with major international scientific assessments. To address these purposes and audiences, SAP 1.3 was given 10 key questions to address (see Box 1). In a review of the U.S. CCSP Strategic Plan, the National Research Council (NRC) recommended that synthesis and assessment products should be produced with independent oversight and review from the wider scientific and stakeholder communities (NRC, 2004). To meet this goal, NOAA has requested an independent review of SAP 1.3 by the NRC. The NRC appointed an ad hoc committee composed of 7 members (Appendix C). The committee’s Statement of Task is included in Appendix D.

The committee conducted its work by first carefully reading the draft SAP 1.3 report “Re-analyses of Historical Climate Data for Key Atmospheric Features: Implications for Attribution of Causes of Observed Change” (draft dated August 20, 2007). The committee then met with the lead authors to ask questions about the authoring team’s research and formulation of the draft document. During this meeting, the committee also interacted with NOAA personnel, who outlined for the committee

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