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--> Appendix B Letter from the Climate Research Committee to the Department of State October 17, 1997 The Honorable John H. Gibbons Assistant to the President for Science and Technology Executive Office of the President Office of Science and Technology Policy Washington, D.C. 20502 Dear Dr. Gibbons: The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change has as one of its ultimate objectives the stabilization of greenhouse-gas concentrations to prevent dangerous anthropogenic interference with the climate system. Important to this objective is a continuous quantitative record of climate. Without this record, we cannot credibly assess natural climate variability, estimate anthropogenic effects on climate, judge the efficacy of negotiated mitigation efforts, or consider appropriate mid-course policy options. Unfortunately, a number of evaluations of the state of pertinent observation systems, by the National Research Council and others, have concluded that our ability to establish and maintain these records is deteriorating. These evaluations include Report No. 855 (1997) of the World Meteorological Organization, and the reports listed in Attachment 1. We also draw your attention to the World Climate Research Programme's message to the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change. It states that without action to reverse the decline in observation networks, we will be less able to characterize climate change in the next 25 years than we have been during the past 25 years. Article 5(b) of the UN Framework states that the parties shall “…support international and intergovernmental efforts to strengthen systematic observation….” Our ability to assess changes in our planet's climate will be at risk without action to reverse the deterioration of our climate observing systems. On behalf of the Climate Research Committee, I urge you to use your good offices to ensure that the United States implements Article 5(b) and that other parties to the convention do so as well. Sincerely, Thomas R. Karl Chairman, Climate Research Committee Attachments
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--> ATTACHMENT 1 • TOGA: A Review of Progress and Future Opportunities. National Academy Press. 66 pp. 1990 “It is ironic and unfortunate that the new TOGA initiatives for long-term observations of the global atmosphere are being implemented in the face of an overall deterioration in some of the key elements of the World Weather Watch, whose long-term stability was taken for granted in the TOGA strategy document…some of the weather services are being forced to cut back on their contributions to the conventional observing system.” (p. 55) “To maintain a viable atmospheric observing system…continuous daily operation of upper-air stations in the equatorial Pacific and elsewhere in the tropics [is necessary].” (p. 55) • Opportunities in the Hydrologic Sciences. National Academy Press. 348 pp. 1991 “It is therefore difficult for agencies and individuals to be doggedly persistent about the continuity of high-quality hydrologic data sets…We must reemphasize the value and importance of observational and experimental skills.” (p. 6) “Improvements in the use of operational data require that special attention be given to the maintenance of continuous long-term data sets of established quality and reliability. Experience has shown that exciting scientific and social issues often lead to an erosion in the data collection programs that provide a basis for much of our understanding of hydrologic systems and the documented changes in regional and global environments.” (p. 11) • A Decade of International Climate Research: The First Ten Years of the World Climate Research Programme. National Academy Press. 55 pp. 1992 “The WCRP has not been successful in convincing [others] …to halt the decay of conventional observing systems in the tropics.” (p. 49) “Despite their importance, present capabilities for monitoring the climate system are…deteriorating….Substantial effort by the WCRP…is required to…ensure baseline institutional and governmental commitment to the system.” (p. 54)
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--> • Ocean-Atmosphere Observations Supporting Short-Term Climate Predictions. National Academy Press. 51 pp. 1994 “When…a set of observations begun under research funding is suggested for ‘transition’ to an operational agency, both the research and operational sponsors must be clear that the receiving agency has a commitment to sustain the observations, the technical capability to do so successfully, and avenues for the ongoing involvement of scientists…” (p. 2) “Most satellite estimates will always require coincident direct-surface and upper-air measurements to perform the ongoing task of calibration, and surface platforms will be needed to make measurements not possible by remote sensing. The best determinations of the geophysical fields of interest will be obtained by combining satellite and direct measurements, blending the unmatched spatial coverage of satellite sensors with the direct observations of greater accuracy or more direct connections to the geophysical parameters of concern. Therefore, a well-chosen network of direct observations will become more, not less important as satellite techniques advance.” (p. 3) • Preserving Scientific Data on Our Physical Universe: A New Strategy for Archiving the Nations Scientific Information Resources. National Academy Press. 67 pp. 1995 “Observed data provide a baseline for determining rates of change and for computing the frequency of occurrence of unusual events. They specify the observed envelope of variability. The longer the record, the greater our confidence in the conclusions we draw from it.” (p. 1) “NOAA, as well as every other federal science agency, should ensure that: all its data are shared and readily available, It fulfills its responsibility for quality control, metadata structure, documentation, and creation of its data products, It participates in electronic networks that enable access, sharing, and transfer of data; and It expressly incorporates the long-term view in planning and carrying out its data management responsibilities.” (p. 9) Learning to Predict Climate Variations Associated with El Niño and the Southern Oscillation. National Academy Press. 171 pp. 1996 “For future progress in the study of climate variations, it is essential to maintain what we already have, including the upper-air observing network, satellite altimetry, and the upper-ocean and surface-meteorological measurements made routinely in and over the ocean.” (p. 137)
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