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FIGURE 5.1 The number of current and planned Earth observing missions and instruments from NOAA and NASA showing a significant decline by 2020. Figure is courtesy of Stacey Boland, Jet Propulsion Lab (personal communication).

 

to support weather forecasting, and advanced warning of extreme events—such as hurricanes, storm surges, and floods—would be diminished,” potentially placing lives, property, and critical infrastructure in greater danger.

Another issue with climate data from all sources is that there are significant differences in the metadata, availability, and provision of error and uncertainty estimates for different climate data sets. Although it is difficult to make this globally conformable, climate model validation and intercomparison exercises require a thorough understanding of the available data and their limitations. The climate observing and modeling communities are not optimally integrated, so observations are not always used appropriately.

There needs to be more emphasis on detection and analysis of extreme weather in both the observing and modeling communities, including hydrologic events (flood, drought), severe storms (cyclones, tornadoes), snow and freezing rain events, and persistent extreme temperatures (e.g., heat waves). These are the meteorological events that impact society the most and, thus, are needed for informed decision making, but the observing system and climate models themselves are ill equipped to capture and simulate extreme conditions.

The timely availability of some climate observations may be at risk because of funding shortfalls, data-sharing issues, gaps or unforeseen failures in current and future satellite missions, or transitions between systems (Sullivan, 2011; Zinser, 2011). Parties to the UNFCCC approved the GCOS (2010) recommendations in principle, but funding commitments at a national level are not in place in many cases. Budget cuts are eroding the monitoring network in some GCOS member states.

Finding 5.4: Satellite-based observations are essential for the evaluation and advancement of climate and Earth system models. The U.S. space-based observing system is now in peril, and the timely availability of some climate observations may be at risk because of funding shortfalls, data-sharing issues, gaps or unforeseen failures in current and future satel-



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