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Observing Weather and Climate from the Ground Up: A Nationwide Network of Networks
Since the release of this report, a number of additional reports have addressed the need for enhanced mesoscale observing capabilities for specific systems and applications, including use of satellite data in numerical weather prediction systems (NRC, 2000), dispersion and hazardous releases (NRC, 2003a), transportation (NRC, 2004a), and the need to reinvigorate the U.S. environmental space program (NRC, 2007a).
Other recent reports have focused on data management and the organizational and programmatic structures that could facilitate partnerships among public, private, and academic interests. Fair Weather: EffectivePartnerships in Weather and Climate Services (NRC, 2003b) proposed mechanisms whereby NWS could modify its approach to agreements with private-sector interests. Most recently, Environmental Data Managementat NOAA (NRC, 2007b) provided recommendations for archiving and assessing data and metadata at NOAA, including the recommendation that NOAA “should establish and codify an enterprise-wide data management plan that explicitly incorporates all the principles” set forth in that report.
A goal of this report is to build upon the recommendations provided in previous reports, while taking into account current policy and technical contexts to provide a framework for the advancement of a multi-purpose mesoscale observation network that meets multiple national needs.
CURRENT POLICY AND TECHNICAL CONTEXTS
Capabilities related to the development and delivery of accurate, reliable, and useful mesoscale (i.e., the scale of high-impact weather systems) atmospheric forecasts have improved in the past decades as computing power and modeling capabilities have improved, but the benefits of these increased capabilities have not been fully realized in practical applications. There is an emerging consensus in the observational, modeling, and forecast communities that a carefully designed, integrated three-dimensional national mesoscale network will yield markedly improved short-range forecasts (Dabberdt et al., 2005a). Such forecasts could provide concrete benefits to decision making in areas such as severe weather, flash flooding, water management, energy production and management, transportation management, forestry and coastal ecosystem management and monitoring, agriculture, air quality, urban area management, homeland security, and public health and safety.
A number of national priorities require meteorological observations at spatial and temporal resolutions that are much finer than widely available today. These priorities include tracking atmospheric dispersion of chemical, biological, and nuclear contaminants from industrial accidents and terrorist activities; predicting and monitoring smoke dispersion from wildfires, pre-