educational needs, often for limited periods in limited regions. If history is a proper judge, many of the research-motivated sensors and observations will evolve to operational status, serving existing societal needs better and serving future additional societal needs well. The impact of research-based systems is likely to be felt at or near the Earth’s surface, relevant to both managed and natural terrestrial and marine ecosystems, and issues unique to the heavily built environment. A more seamless blending of formal university education with observations, operational forecasting, and research will promote the capacity building required to satisfy personnel needs of the future.
Extensive metadata will be required of every component in an integrated, multiuse observing system. Observational data have high value only if they are accompanied by comprehensive metadata. Provision of metadata would be needed for participation in a national network of networks, and incentives could be offered to the operators of networks to provide it. The contents of a metadata file would need to be carefully defined and, once assembled, a frequently updated, national database of metadata would be accessible to all. If action is taken to improve metadata and fill gaps by supplying comprehensive information on undocumented systems, the value and impact of existing data will be improved far beyond the cost of gathering the metadata.
Stakeholders could commission an independent team of social and physical scientists to conduct an end-user assessment for selected sectors. The assessment could quantify further the current use and value of mesoscale data in decision making and also project future trends and the value associated with proposed new observations. Upon implementation and utilization of improved observations, periodic assessments would be conducted to quantify change in mesoscale data use and the added societal impact and value. In addition to the involvement of known data providers and users, a less formal survey could capture user comments from blogs and webpage feedback.