Chapter Six
Concluding Perspective

Congress, in appropriating funds for the modernization and restructuring of the NWS, specified that a benchmark for the modernization would be no degradation of existing services. However, the demand for increased services by the marine community and coastal recreational interests shows that this benchmark concept should be revised to better reflect the rapidly increasing use of the Nation's coastal zones for commercial and recreational purposes. The need exists for NWS to provide more comprehensive offshore weather information and forecasts in recognition of increased coastal zone use. This need in turn requires that NWS increase the spatial coverage and density of marine observation platforms in support of weather and climate services aimed at the protection of life and property. Public safety officials can act on their increased responsibilities to support the rapidly expanding marine community. As part of this process, the modernized and restructured NWS must increasingly deal with forecasting problems and related public safety issues associated with smaller-scale (mesoscale) weather systems, including, severe weather outbreaks (e.g., the occurrence of squall lines and tornadoes), heavy precipitation bands (rain or snow) that can lead to flooding, near-shore high-wind zones associated with landfalling hurricanes or wind channeling by coastal orographic barriers, and coastal storm surges associated with winter storms and landfalling hurricanes.

The detection of mesoscale weather systems, typically occurring on horizontal scales of 50–100 km over a period of a few hours, is predicated on the ability of forecasters to monitor the weather on finer time and space scales than they have ever done. This requirement places an increasing demand for weather services that must be recognized and appreciated within the context of the aforementioned congressional benchmark. Accordingly, the concept of no degradation of services must be similarly modernized and restructured to reflect the increased (and very real) needs of the rapidly expanding marine user community. Recommendation #1 addresses this issue and is the basis for the design of the essential network proposed herein.

Management and funding responsibility for the existing buoy/C-MAN



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--> Chapter Six Concluding Perspective Congress, in appropriating funds for the modernization and restructuring of the NWS, specified that a benchmark for the modernization would be no degradation of existing services. However, the demand for increased services by the marine community and coastal recreational interests shows that this benchmark concept should be revised to better reflect the rapidly increasing use of the Nation's coastal zones for commercial and recreational purposes. The need exists for NWS to provide more comprehensive offshore weather information and forecasts in recognition of increased coastal zone use. This need in turn requires that NWS increase the spatial coverage and density of marine observation platforms in support of weather and climate services aimed at the protection of life and property. Public safety officials can act on their increased responsibilities to support the rapidly expanding marine community. As part of this process, the modernized and restructured NWS must increasingly deal with forecasting problems and related public safety issues associated with smaller-scale (mesoscale) weather systems, including, severe weather outbreaks (e.g., the occurrence of squall lines and tornadoes), heavy precipitation bands (rain or snow) that can lead to flooding, near-shore high-wind zones associated with landfalling hurricanes or wind channeling by coastal orographic barriers, and coastal storm surges associated with winter storms and landfalling hurricanes. The detection of mesoscale weather systems, typically occurring on horizontal scales of 50–100 km over a period of a few hours, is predicated on the ability of forecasters to monitor the weather on finer time and space scales than they have ever done. This requirement places an increasing demand for weather services that must be recognized and appreciated within the context of the aforementioned congressional benchmark. Accordingly, the concept of no degradation of services must be similarly modernized and restructured to reflect the increased (and very real) needs of the rapidly expanding marine user community. Recommendation #1 addresses this issue and is the basis for the design of the essential network proposed herein. Management and funding responsibility for the existing buoy/C-MAN

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--> network is spread across multiple federal agencies that often have different interests, funding commitments, and data requirements. When the sponsoring agency decides it no longer needs the platform, funding and data stop, and along with them, the added value to weather forecasts and warnings. To maintain stability of operations, it is important that a single federal agency, NOAA, be given the responsibility and means to install, operate, and maintain the core base-funded moored buoys and C-MAN stations. This will enable Recommendation #1 to be implemented more expeditiously. Other federal agencies and private interests would still have the opportunity to deploy additional buoys above and beyond the core base-funded network. If NOAA is granted sole authority to fund and maintain the core buoy/C-MAN network, then it is incumbent upon the agency to vigorously pursue new opportunities for technological advances, in conjunction with the private sector, in the design and deployment of more cost-effective buoy platforms. The NDBC has developed a workable approach and strategy for designing, fabricating, testing, deploying, operating, and maintaining the marine buoy/C-MAN network over the years. However, there are opportunities with new industry-and university laboratory-developed technology, including instrument packages, buoys, and data delivery systems that could cut costs, improve observational capacity and quality, and thus further NOAA's ability to make improved weather forecasts. The extent to which NDBC can take advantage of these new opportunities would improve the tractability and viability of the modified MAROB plan that is proposed for adoption. Similar opportunities for cost-effective technological advances exist in the design and construction of the suite of instruments that are mounted on the buoy/C-MAN platforms. Considering the broad responsibilities of NOAA in maintaining other weather and climate observing systems and in data management, the buoy/C-MAN network can be integrated in strategic ways to assure the most cost-efficient monitoring system is in place. It is beyond the scope of this study to address specific buoy/C-MAN deployment, maintenance, and repair issues. Any attempt to do so without a specific strategy supported by hard evidence would be divisive and likely would pit various public and private groups against one another. More generally, however, NOAA should conduct a much more comprehensive analysis of the impact of buoy data on the national weather and climate data system as indicated in Recommendations #2. This task would blend well with the ongoing study of NAOS and would help to position NOAA to formulate a cost-effective “big picture” data strategy for the atmosphere and oceans.

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--> Finally, a continuing mechanism for overseeing and reviewing the implementation and operation of the buoy/C-MAN network is needed. Such a mechanism might include a panel of experts drawn from NOAA operational units, other agency and private sector user groups, and the academic research community. An annual or biennial status report on the network could be published by the panel for general dissemination.