National Needs

Meteorological and related environmental observations are needed at spatial and temporal resolutions much finer than widely available today. The priority uses and applications include tracking atmospheric dispersion of chemical, biological, and nuclear contaminants from industrial accidents and terrorist activities as well as smoke dispersion monitoring and predictions related to wildfires, prescribed burns, and seasonal agricultural fires; providing information for air quality forecasting, high-resolution nowcasting, and short-range forecasting of high-impact weather; providing high-resolution weather information for aviation, surface transportation, and coastal waterways; and providing support to regional climate monitoring.

The Vertical Dimension

The vertical component of U.S. mesoscale observations is inadequate. Assets required to profile the lower troposphere above the near-surface layer (first 10) are too limited in what they measure, too sparsely or unevenly distributed, sometimes too coarse in vertical resolution, sometimes limited to regional areal coverage, and clearly do not qualify as a mesoscale network of national dimensions. Likewise, vertical profiles below the Earth’s surface are inadequately measured in both space and time. The solutions to these particular deficiencies require leadership and infrastructure investments from each of the pivotal federal agencies.

Metadata and Exposure

A NoN cannot deliver net benefit to users unless comprehensive metadata are supplied by all operators. Though provision of good metadata is an exacting task; metadata are key to the effective accommodation of diverse data sources and the widest possible utility of such information. The Committee repeatedly discussed conformance to World Meteorological Organization exposure standards, which is desirable in many instances but unnecessarily restrictive and sub-optimal in others. For example, restriction of sensors to WMO exposure settings and heights clearly would be counter-productive in the road and rail applications, yet non-standard exposures, provided these are known, will be potentially useful in multiple applications. Comprehensive metadata, including all aspects of exposure and observing system performance, enable network configurations to best meet customized needs as specified by the users themselves. Metadata enables one to ask questions across multiple networks and seek answers from the whole NoN.

Given that proper exposure is often application dependent, the Com-



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