are or were active in the community and in a position to comment on the use and the impact of the previous reports as well as future directions in climate modeling. The results of the interviews generally inform the discussion in this section.

The first section of this chapter reviews a series of previous reports and articles chronologically. The second section then highlights a few key lessons that the committee draws from this set of previous reports and the responses of the interviewees.


Reports from the 1970s and 1980s

The possibility of climate change caused by carbon dioxide emissions has been a subject of concern to the U.S. government at least since the administration of Lyndon Johnson (Johnson, 1965). The National Academy of Sciences published a significant report on climate change and climate models in 1979, which was “an independent critical assessment of the scientific basis of these (climate change) studies and the degree of the certainty that could be attached to their results” (NRC, 1979). During the 1980s there were three National Research Council (NRC) reports on meeting national needs in climate science (NRC, 1982, 1985, 1986).

As a response to these reports, in the early 1990s within the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) there were discussions on the need for the development of climate services. The opening paragraph of Changnon et al. (1990) is repeated here:

For the past two decades it has been widely recognized that the Nation’s climate service activities were not functioning well and were poorly organized. In 1978, a major motivation for the National Climate Program Act (Public Law 95367) was to improve dissemination and use of climate information. Congress found that information regarding climate was not being fully disseminated or used, and Federal efforts have given insufficient attention to assessing and applying this information. The Program mandated “systems for management and active dissemination of climatological data, information, and assessments.” Since 1978 there have been several calls for an organized climate service system to improve the situation.

Throughout the 1990s a number of documents were produced, both formal and informal, about the need for more organization and coordination of U.S. efforts in climate modeling and climate observations. There was also an increasing recognition of growing societal needs for information on climate and climate change.

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