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1993 Review of the World Data Center-A for Meteorology and the National Climatic Data Center Executive Summary The National Research Council's Committee on Geophysical and Environmental Data (CGED) assembled a panel to review the World Data Center-A (WDC-A) for Meteorology and its host institution, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). The review occurred in an era in which the importance of historical records for documenting past and developing climate changes is widely recognized, but in which awareness of the resources needed to transform operational measurements into records of sufficient quality for climate-monitoring purposes is only just emerging. It is also an era in which new meteorological observing systems promise to deliver orders of magnitude more data than past systems, posing novel and immediate challenges concerning how these data are to be archived so that climate-related information can be readily and sensibly retrieved. With this background in mind, the panel to review the WDC-A for Meteorology/NCDC focussed on the operations of both components and their effectiveness in serving their broad spectrum of users. The panel represented the perspective of scientific researchers familiar with issues of data and information management, and it followed a review procedure that has been formally adopted by the CGED. The panel found that the WDC-A for Meteorology fulfills the International Council of Scientific Unions' (ICSU) requirements for world data centers and therefore focussed its attention on the NCDC. The recommendations of the panel set forth below are based upon a site visit to the NCDC and briefings by NCDC personnel, documents provided by the NCDC describing its current operations and plans for the future, as well as the personal experiences of panel members with the center. The recommendations of the panel follow. In light of the considerable value of lengthy, homogeneous data records to global change research, the NCDC should place high priority on recalibrating retrospective datasets in its care that are especially critical to such research.
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1993 Review of the World Data Center-A for Meteorology and the National Climatic Data Center Given the national trend toward distributed computer architectures, the NCDC should assume greater responsibility in assuring that all climate-related datasets are properly stored, documented, and easily accessible to users, regardless of where the data physically reside. To better fulfill its mission, anticipate the needs of its users, and contribute more substantially to the nation's global change research program, the NCDC should expand its research program by hiring additional permanent or visiting scientific staff. These scientists should establish stronger links to the research community through increased scientific collaborations. More effective use of standing advisory panels should be made to review strategic plans and to help set priorities, such as deciding how resources should be allocated among competing data archival projects. The NCDC should place higher priority on making their data more widely accessible, including increasing the production rate of CD-ROMs with high-profile datasets. Given that the NCDC's current computing capability is insufficient to deal with its existing and anticipated future data holdings, the planned computer systems upgrade should have high priority. As much data as possible should be stored in a form that allows users rapid access. To ensure that data collected for NOAA's operational needs may also prove useful for climate-related purposes, the NCDC must acquire a stronger voice in the planning of NOAA's measurement efforts. The NCDC should strive for good communication with state, regional, and national partners to ensure that the nation's climate data are adequately stored and available.
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