Reports from the Late 1990s and Early 2000s
Three reports that appeared in the late 1990s and early 2000s are of direct relevance to the current report. A first NRC report, Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling to Support Climate Change Assessment Activities (NRC, 1998), was written in anticipation of U.S. climate modeling needs associated with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.1 A major finding of the report was that modeling efforts that were of small and intermediate size were leading edge, but that high-end U.S. modeling efforts were “less prominent” in international assessments than models from other countries. This statement was based on a perceived sparseness of citations and of direct use of results from U.S. models in international assessments. Findings from this study included strong statements that a lack of a coordinated strategy for climate modeling led to the inefficient use of inadequate resources. Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling concluded the following:
Although an entirely top-down management approach for climate modeling is viewed as undesirable, national economic and security interests nevertheless require a more comprehensive national strategy for setting priorities, and improving and applying climate models.
A second NRC report, Improving the Effectiveness of U.S. Climate Modeling (NRC, 2001b), sponsored by NOAA and the National Science Foundation, was framed as a “first response” to Capacity of U.S. Climate Modeling. Improving the Effectiveness concluded that the United States needed a centralized capability to deliver the climate modeling products required by society. At the time of Improving the Effectiveness, the prominent societal need was assessment of climate change and its impacts on regional, national, and global scales. The report also placed climate modeling as part of a larger enterprise that includes a climate observing system, high-performance computer systems, software frameworks, human resources, analysis environments, and organizational support for the interface of climate modeling activities to greater societal needs. The report stated that
[a] new way of focusing resources to meet the specific challenges posed by these various demands implies a less fragmented and therefore more centralized mode of addressing these problems. The nature of the institutional and management requirements were discussed in terms of a Climate Service, which here is the designation for the organizational entity that would create the climate information products and manage the climate modeling activities that would deliver these products.