Page 47

Box I.4.1 Recommendations for Leadership and Management in the Atmospheric Sciences

• Develop a strategic viewpoint to shape an increasingly distributed national structure for providing atmospheric information from a variety of governmental and private-sector organizations.

• Maintain the free and open exchange of atmospheric observations among all countries, and preserve the free and open exchange of data among scientists.

• Develop a clear understanding of the benefits and costs of weather and climate services.

Two primary consequences of the contemporary information revolution for atmospheric sciences and services are the following:

1. Quantitative information on nearly any topic is readily available on global information networks. Individuals with a modem and a computer have unprecedented resources for examining global weather and climate data, visualizations, and predictions. What was once the province of government supercomputers is now common currency.

2. Computer-to-computer communication enables weather-dependent enterprises to incorporate atmospheric information more readily into their decision making. Four-dimensional data bases containing the classical meteorological variables can be transformed into four-dimensional data bases containing variables of interest to users and critical to their decisions.

The full implications for public and private weather services are not yet clear, but it is obvious that rapid change is in progress.

A Changing System for Providing Weather Services

From the beginning of organized attempts to forecast weather events a century or so ago, nearly all observation networks and both national and global analysis and prediction services have been instituted, funded, and managed by national governments. In the United States, public forecasts and warnings of severe weather are the responsibility of the National Weather Service (NWS). The centralized model has served this and other nations well in many respects, leading to greatly improved observations and the impressive weather prediction capabilities enjoyed today in all developed countries.

As communications capabilities improved, weather information became a potential source of competitive advantage or profit. Private-sector weather fore-

The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement