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Users of Marine Forecasts The cornerstone of the operation of the committee was the detailed examination of the needs of the community using or deriving significant benefit from forecasts of the marine environment. While the providing federal agencies are called upon to give lengthy account of their programs to Congress and the Administration on a yearly or biannual basis, the user has little or no forum. The user community is broadly based and represents diverse segments of the public and private industry. As with many federal services, users of marine environmental information often take what they get with little leverage in directing or participating in any change. The committee sought to alter that condition by actively seeking the views of the user community. Two primary mechanisms were used for this. First, a questionnaire was sent to a wide number of representatives of user communities. Second, a national workshop was conducted with invited papers and participants. The workshop was organized based on the returns of the questionnaire. Findings of the participants in the workshop were spelled out in five working group reports, found in Appendixes E-I. While it obviously was not possible to sample the views of all users of marine weather and ocean weather information, the committee believes that a broadly based representative sample has been taken and the major issues have been identified. The early steps in the year-long process of identifying user needs were highly conditioned to well-known needs and traditional services. Later, especially at the workshop, users became aware of promising new tech- nolog~y applications, especially the forecasting of internal ocean weather. 14
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15 TABLE 2-1 Questionnaire Response Categories User Categones Shipping tankships, bulk carriers cargo, containerships coastal tug, barges Oil and gas offshore oil operators, offshore supply, transport construction, drilling, support marine helicopters Fisheries and recreation commercial fishermen, recreational boating, oceanographic and fisheries research Others Total Responses 33 21 43 4 101 This growth in users' understanding of the opportunities associated with advances in marine forecasting is chronicled in this chapter. RESPONSES TO COMMITTEE SURVEY In March 1988, 415 questionnaires were sent to a wide variety of users of marine forecast products. The intent was to obtain as broad a distribution as possible, both geographically and functionally. Several members of the committee participated in the process of selecting individuals and groups to whom the questionnaire was addressed. The questionnaire and statistical compilations of the responses are shown in Appendix B. Approximately 100 responses were received, showing that 90 percent of commercial users of the ocean and coastal waters utilize marine weather forecasts. It is evident that virtually all the responses can be conveniently grouped for analysis purposes into three major user categories, as summarized in liable 2-1. The oil and gas responses are heavily biased toward Gulf of Mexico operations; responses from other geographic areas are very sparse. On the other hand, fisheries and recreation responses are widely distributed geographically. The following discussions provide a summary of the responses of these major groups by question.
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16 90 _ 80 _ _ 70 Oh In oh Z 60 o oh LL CI: IL o m at 50 40 30 20 10 o I//A National Weather Service/U.S. Coast Guard :1 Commercial Radio/Television . ~ :: .:: . ~ in_ . ..:.. . ·.. --.: ·.:... .... .:.:.--: ·.:... .. :: ....... : . Shipping Oiland Gas Fish/Recreation Other All FIGURE 2-1 Sources of manne weather forecast. Question 1: Are You Using Marine Forecasting Services? This question was designed to establish whether or not marine fore- casting services are used, and if so, what are the sources of weather and ocean conditions information, the methods of receiving the forecast, and the perceived reliability of the information. Overall utilization of marine forecasting services was high, about 90 percent of the respondents use them. The three major sources of marine forecasts identified were U.S. Coast Guard and National Weather Service (NWS), commercial services, and radio and television. The utilization distribution for these services was not uniform among the user categories. For example, the fisheries and recreation users made the least use of commercial services and the most use of radio and television. This information is displayed graphically in Figure 2-1. The method of receiving weather and ocean conditions forecasts was concentrated in three areas: voice, radiotelegraphy (COO, telex), and Weath- erfax. The fisheries and recreation users reported virtually no utilization of radiotelegraphy in their operations. This information is displayed graphi- cally in Figure 2-2. The overall rating of reliability on the numerical scale of 0 to 3 was "reasonably reliable" (2.0~. There was a consistent trend among all user categories to rate commercial services somewhat ahead of NWS services,
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17 80 70 60 Oh ILJ In 0 50 In tr o cr ~ 30 Ad 20 40 10 o - l//~l Voice CW/TELE)( \~l Facsimile ~F ma. Shipping . ... , :.:..:.:, :::: ·. ::.:, . A. _ , , Oiland Gas Fish/Recreation Other All FIGURE 2-2 Method of receiving forecasts. and both of them ahead of radio and television. This information is displayed graphically in Figure 2-3. Question 2: What Services Beyond Those Presently Available Would You Find Useful This question was designed to elicit information regarding the need for services beyond those presently available. Approximately 50 percent of the questionnaires received contained such comments. These have been consolidated and are reported by major user group. Shipping The responses are dominated by cargo and containerships operators. The most useful services would be better access to satellite weather data through telex or high speed (1,200 Bd) modem, more frequent forecast updates, and improvements in the 12- to 18-hour forecasts. Some tankship and bunk carrier operators would find ice forecasts useful, and coastal tug and barge operators would find telephone access useful. Oil and Gas The responses are dominated by offshore oil operators. In the Gulf of
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18 Extremely Reliable Reasonably Reliable Rarely Reliable Unusable National Weather Service/U.S. Coast Guard = Commercial [\\\\1 Radio/Television it. . . L ,......... ,....... .... : .: .-' ...... hi. ..... . ...:.. ·.:.: ..... :~: . ~. ,~ . it, :.: :. A:...... :: it.. ·:::: ·:.:.:.. ·-:.:.:.: ........... ·:: -: ....... ......... NY Shipping Oiland Gas Fish/Recreation Other All FIGURE 2-3 Reliability of marine weather forecasts. Mexico, site-specific forecasting to at least 150 miles offshore and improved coverage of offshore VHF to 100 miles or greater would be useful. More updates during times of rapid change and the ability to track or forecast strong currents (loop or Gulf Stream) would be useful. Marine helicopter operators could use automated weather systems with real-time communica- tion capability. On the West Coast, atmospheric stability and air pollutant concentration forecasts would be useful; offshore Alaska, ice thickness and growth forecasts and storm development offshore Siberia would be useful (when drilling operations are under way). Fisheries and Recreation 1 The responses are widely spread over a variety of userse Sugges- tions were made for improved range of VHF coverage for "distant water" fishermen, access to offshore weather buoy information, more frequent (6-hour) updates, more satellites for weather data as well as navigation, and larger-scale area coverage. More information on ocean temperature and its variations would be useful to oceanographic and fisheries research. Question 3: Do You Supply Observations of Marine Weather andIor Ocean Conditions to Any Organization? This question was designed to identify how prevalent is the practice of
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19 50 40 Oh llJ An An o en 30 a: 11 o m ^^ ~ Hi., in 10 o Yes No Fife:: .:3 Oil and Gas Fish/Recreation Other Shipping FIGURE 2 - Supplies of marine observations. All reporting observations of marine weather conditions to other organizations. The responses were split about 50-50 in this regard. Shipping users provide the greatest proportion of marine observations and the fisheries and recre- ation users the least. This information is shown graphically in Figure 2-4. The recipients of these observations are quite varied and include forecast agencies as well as other operators in the immediate area. Of those responses stating they did not supply observations of weather conditions, 50 percent said they would be willing to and 50 percent said they would not. Question 4: Which of These Forecasted Parameters Affect Your Decisions in Marine Operations? This question was designed to determine the priority in which fore- casted parameters of marine weather and ocean conditions are important to the user's operations. A consistent pattern emerged from these responses that applies over all user groups. The summarized data focused on the five highest priority forecasted parameters for each of the several groups for which responses could be tabulated. Weighing the priorities according to the number of responses in the top five categories, the following rank order of importance to the forecast user is shown in Able 2-2. None of the user
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20 TABLE 2-2 Importance of Forecasted Parameters to Marine Operators Parameter Wind conditions Tropical storm movement Wave height and period Swell height and period Fog and visibility Storm surge Precipitation Ice hazards Ranking 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 groups identified currents or sea temperature in the top five parameters affecting their operating decisions. Question 5: Can You Quantify the Benefits that Would Accrue to Your Segment of the Marine Industry as a Result of Improved Marine Forecasts, and/or New Forecast Services? Question 6: Can You Describe and Quantify Losses that Have Occurred in Your Segment of the Marine Industry as a Result of Inadequate Marine Forecasts? These questions were designed to determine whether or not there is a basis to quantify benefits that would accrue as a result of improved marine forecasts, and to quantify losses that have occurred as a result of inadequate marine forecasts. A majority of responses indicated that benefits can be quantified (about a 3:1 margin) and that losses can be quantified (about a 2:1 margin). Descriptive examples of benefits and/or losses were provided, but no quantitative monetary value was assigned or volunteered. WORKSHOP DESCRIPTION On September 27-29, 1988, a national meeting was convened on `'Improvements in Marine Observations and Forecasting Services: Users' Needs and Development Opportunities" at the Beckman Center of the National Academy of Sciences in Irvine, California. The national workshop was sponsored by the committee to develop clear statements of user requirements for improved obser- vations and forecasts; · identify key issues and supporting facts relating to the need for and provision of improved marine observations and forecasts; and
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21 TABLE 2-3 Types of Participants at Committee Workshops Category Number of Inherited Participants Provider academic commercial government military Users coastal managers fisheries and recreation marine Board liaison oil and gas industry ports and harbors . . 5 hipping U.S. Coast Guard Total 3 4 12 1 4 5 2 45 · stimulate dialogue among all who are involved with the process of developing, providing, and using marine observations and forecasts. The national meeting was attended by 45 invited guests in addition to the committee members. A representative cross-section of major user groups was present, as well as a cross-section of the government, academic and private sector prodders of marine forecast technology, as shown in Table 2-3. A list of participants in the national meeting is provided as Appendix C. 1b stimulate discussion and establish a baseline for dialogue, the first day of the meeting was devoted to a series of papers on technical capabilities and requirements as well as the state of practice concerning observations and predictions (see Appendix D). Open discussion and clear supported statements of fact about needs and opportunities were the hallmark of the meeting. The following issues were discussed: What is needed in marine observations and forecasting? What is available? · If what is available is not adequate, what else is needed? · Who should meet the needs and how? On the second day of the meeting, all participants convened in five working groups, which met concurrently. 1. Wind, Wave, and Swell Jon Klein, consultant, group leader.
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22 2. Tropical, Extratropical Storms Kenneth Blenkarn, consultant, group leader. 3. Currents, Ocean Processes, and Ice Allan Robinson, Harvard Uni- versity, group leader. 4. Nearsh ore Forecasting William Gordon, New Jersey Marine Sci- ences Consortium, group leader. 5. Collection, Repordng' Dissemination, and Display- Richard Wag- oner, National Weather Service, group leader. Attendees were carefully assigned to one of the five working groups based on their interest, professional expertise, and the committee's need to maintain a balanced discussion among users and providers of marine forecasts. The goal of each working group was to extract the wisdom and perspective of users of marine forecasts on needs for improvement. Each group prepared a report that addresses the status and adequacy of marine forecasting and prediction services in the United States. Statements of fact and supporting arguments were developed in the following areas: . specific observing and forecasting capabilities addressed both cur- rent products and services and available data and technologies; . needs for improvement addressed new applications of existing technology, new technologies and data needed, and justification and costs and benefits of needed developments; and priorities for developments addressed research and development, observations, operational capabilities, new technologies, and new products and services. Membership lists for the working groups are included in Appendixes E-I. On the third day of the workshop, the leaders of each working group orally presented their results. Their reports (see Appendixes E-I) are an independent source of information for the committee and contributed materially to the development of the committee's findings. RECONCILIATION OF QUESTIONAIRE A}II) WORKSHOP RESULTS The workshop certainly achieved its objective and provided the com- mittee with substantially more information than could be gleaned from the questionnaire responses alone. The dialogue between the providers and users of marine observations and forecasts was especially valuable and is well documented in the group reports. Some of the workshop results appear to be in conflict with or introduce topics that were not evident from the questionnaire responses. Discussion of the relationship between questionnaire responses and workshop results follows.
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23 Question 1: Reconciliation As expected, there was no conflict between the questionnaire and the workshop here. Participants were invited from a subset of users identified by the questionnaire. The major sources of marine forecasts identified in the questionnaire were reviewed and discussed in Working Groups 1 and 2. The method of receiving weather and ocean conditions forecasts was extensively discussed by Working Group 5, where several points were made regarding potential for improvements in the dissemination of weather products to the marine user. There was no evidence from the workshop to refute the overall assessment of "reasonably reliable" for presently available forecast services. Question 2: Reconciliation Very little tangible information on the need for improved services was elicited from the questionnaire. In contrast, the workshop proved to be of great benefit to the committee in this regard. For example, Working Group 1 was able to subdivide and very specifically quantify user requirements for wind, wave, and swell forecasts that exceed those presently provided. Working Group 2 took little exception to present tropical storm forecasts and warnings, but identified a significant need of the shipping industry to have better resolution of extratropical storms in the open ocean and warnings of explosive cyclogenesis. The need for warnings of episodic waves was also developed in the working groups. Working Group 3 found that there is a significant interest in and need for nowcasting and forecasting velocity, temperature, and related fields in the ocean. This information was simply not revealed by the questionnaire. The committee believes that the questionnaire responses were highly conditioned to traditionally available marine forecast products. Since ocean forecasts have been largely a military product to date, their technical feasibility, and certainly their potential availability, is unknown to the vast majority of the user community. Working Group 4 identified the special needs of the coastal or nearshore user community. Question 3: Reconciliation The questionnaire revealed a significant commitment to reporting ma- rine observations by the user community. However, it also identified a substantial source of observations that are not being utilized. This theme was further emphasized in discussions of Working Group 5 concerning the lack of utilization of observations that are now provided. Working Group 2 also discussed more concentrated reporting of observations from the open ocean, particularly in the vicinity of extratropical storms.
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24 Question 4: Reconciliation The importance of wind, wave, and swell and tropical storm forecasts as discussed throughout the workshop certainly supports the high priority placed by the questionnaire respondents on these forecast parameters. The absence of user emphasis on currents or sea temperature in the highest priority forecasted parameters is an anomaly. It is not consistent with the findings of Working Group 3, as discussed above under question 2. Questions 5 and 6: Reconciliation Although a majority of questionnaire respondents claimed that benefits and losses can be quantified, the committee was unable to develop any significant documented evidence either through the workshop process or interviews with selected members of the user community. It concluded that while such quantitative benefits analyses do exist, they are rare, specific to a particular project or company, and are considered of high competitive value and hence are not generally available. If they were available, it is unlikely that they could be extrapolated to an entire segment of the user community. However, the workshop process did identify a broad range of benefits that would be achieved by improvements in the quality and method of delivery of marine weather forecasts, as well as the introduction of new forecast products and services such as those related to ocean forecasting. These benefits are summarized in the last section of this chapter, "Expected Benefits of Forecasting Improvements." ECONOMIC PERSPECTIVE The contribution of the ocean business sector to the U.S. economy can be developed in terms of value added. Data that are an extension of data traditionally used by the U.S. Department of Commerce have been developed by Pontecorvo and colleagues of Columbia University.iThese data have been updated recently to establish estimated values for calendar year 1987.2They show that the ocean sector contributes about 2.6 percent to the total U.S. gross national product (GNP) of $4.527 trillion in 1987. Of the ocean sector as defined by PontecoIvo, the government accounts for approximately one-third; virtually all of this is attributable to the U.S. Navy. ~ Pontecorvo, Giulio. 1989. Contribution of the ocean sector to the United States econ- omy: Estimated values for 1987-A technical note. Mar. Technol. Soc. J. 23~2~:7-14. 2 Pontecorvo, G. et al. 1980. Contribution of the ocean sector to the United States econ- omy. Science May 30, 1980.
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25 TABLE 2-4 User Category Contribution Total to U.S. GNP (billions) 1972 1987 Shipping $ 3.7 $10.9 Oil and gas 2.3 11.4 Fisheries and recreation 12.2 48.0 Other 1.2 5.4 Total (commercial) S19.4 S75.7 Source: Adapted from Pontecorvo et al. (1980~; Pontecor~ro (1989~. As noted in Chapter 1, the Navy Fleet Numerical Oceanography Center synthesizes marine observations and makes environmental predictions to satisfy the Navy's needs, and many of their products are provided for NOAA public distribution. Consequently the committee does not treat the government sector as a "user" in the context of Chapter 2. In 1987, the commercial (nongovernment) ocean sector contributed about $76 billion, or 1.7 percent, to the total GNP. The magnitude of this contribution is in approximately the same scale as other well-recognized segments of the U.S. economy, such as all farms ($76 billion), all mining excluding offshore oil and gas ($74 billion), transportation other than water ($131 billion), and communications ($121 billion). Pontecorvo and his colleagues created an "ocean account" according to several criteria. On the supply side, they include extractive activities that involve extracting living or inanimate objects from the ocean and spatial activities where the primary activity uses the ocean water as a significant element in the production process and transportation over the water. On the demand side, they include demand attributable to the ocean and to geographic proximity to the ocean. Rearranging their data yields Table 2-4, which is approximately aligned according to the user community categories defined previously in this chapter. Shipping includes marine transportation, marine cargo handling and related services, and ship and boat building. Oil and gas includes oil and gas extraction and heavy construction in the ocean sector. Fisheries and recreation includes commercial fishing and all of the retail trade, finance, insurance, and real estate associated with Me ocean sector. The reason the committee includes the coastal zone infrastructure items with fisheries and recreation is because they are population intensive. Shipping and offshore oil and gas in themselves do not demand high population in the 'coastal
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26 zone. Less than 10 percent of the commercial ocean sector added value is attributable to dredging and miscellaneous services that are not easily assigned to the three major user categories. Thus the committee concludes that of the $76 billion in 1987 of commercial added value, $48 billion or almost two-thirds (63 percent) is attributable directly to activities and residents in the coastal zone. Approxi- mately $11 billion each are attributable to shipping and oil and gas activities for a total of an additional 30 percent. The magnitude of these numbers is impressive. They emphasize the contribution made by the ocean sector to the total U.S. GNP. The magnitude of the contribution to the U.S. economy of the coastal zone indicated in the economic data is consistent with the user community emphasis of this report. Of course, these activities depend in one way or another on dependable marine observations and forecasting of weather conditions over the ocean. EXPECTED BENEFITS OF FORECASTING IMPROVEMENTS Representatives of the user community participating in each working group helped identify benefits associated with improvements in the fore- casting of marine conditions and delivery of the forecasts. Specific benefits were also identified by some of the presenters of topics at the workshop (Appendix D). Table 2-5 summarizes the way in which improvements in forecasted phenomena will benefit various segments of the user community. For purposes of this summary, forecast phenomena are naturally divided into two main categories: those related to atmospheric weather and those related to internal ocean weather. In addition to tabulating the nature of the benefit, the committee has grouped the benefits according to the three major user communities previously defined, that is, shipping, offshore oil and gas, and fisheries and recreation. An additional category of benefits identified is associated with coastal and Exclusive Economic Zone manage- ment. This fourth category reflects the importance that forecasting marine conditions has to residents of the coastal zone. While somewhat subjective, the committee has identified specific phe- nomena that have a primary role in producing the benefit identified in Table 2-5 by l's and those phenomena that have a secondary role in producing the benefit by 2's. Thus it is easy to see that improvements in each of the forecasted phenomena are expected to produce a benefit over a broad spectrum of user communities. It is also evident that the nature of the benefits are not solely economic. The specific benefits identified span safety at sea and environmental management, as well as efficiency improvements and economic loss avoidance. These factors, plus the established impor- tance of the ocean sector to the total U.S. GNP, are ample justification for improvements in forecasting of marine conditions.
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Representative terms from entire chapter: