Comparison of Panel Concerns and the NCDC Strategic Plan

NCDC Strategic Plan

A draft of the document National Climatic Data Center Strategic Plan, 1992-1995 (January, 1992) was made available to the panel on the occasion of its site visit to the NCDC. The document outlines how the NCDC hopes to achieve its goal of becoming the “foremost climate center in the world”. To accomplish this goal, the center has identified six milestones pertaining to their operations:

  • Acquire and process historical data and new high-resolution, near real-time digital data streams from global and national networks. The transmission and quality control of non-NOAA data streams, such as those that will result from NASA's Earth Observing System, will require increased levels of interagency coordination in mission planning and of funding.

  • Enhance user services by increasing the amount of on-line data and metadata (information about the data) that can be browsed, by appointing in-house “experts” familiar with certain datasets, and by extending service hours, reducing turnaround times, and publicizing products. This will require feedback from the user community and additional staff training.

  • Archive environmental satellite data, including “Pathfinder” datasets, and augment the archives of high quality baseline climate datasets by providing quality control of historical records. New initiatives will be needed to ensure that adequate metadata are included with the new and historical records.

  • Develop reference-quality databases from historical and near real-time data in order to document climate change. A priority structure will need to be established to determine which data should be reprocessed. Research activities, including publication of research papers, continuation of the visiting scientist program, and participation in conferences and on committees will be encouraged to promote NOAA climate services.



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1993 Review of the World Data Center-A for Meteorology and the National Climatic Data Center Comparison of Panel Concerns and the NCDC Strategic Plan NCDC Strategic Plan A draft of the document National Climatic Data Center Strategic Plan, 1992-1995 (January, 1992) was made available to the panel on the occasion of its site visit to the NCDC. The document outlines how the NCDC hopes to achieve its goal of becoming the “foremost climate center in the world”. To accomplish this goal, the center has identified six milestones pertaining to their operations: Acquire and process historical data and new high-resolution, near real-time digital data streams from global and national networks. The transmission and quality control of non-NOAA data streams, such as those that will result from NASA's Earth Observing System, will require increased levels of interagency coordination in mission planning and of funding. Enhance user services by increasing the amount of on-line data and metadata (information about the data) that can be browsed, by appointing in-house “experts” familiar with certain datasets, and by extending service hours, reducing turnaround times, and publicizing products. This will require feedback from the user community and additional staff training. Archive environmental satellite data, including “Pathfinder” datasets, and augment the archives of high quality baseline climate datasets by providing quality control of historical records. New initiatives will be needed to ensure that adequate metadata are included with the new and historical records. Develop reference-quality databases from historical and near real-time data in order to document climate change. A priority structure will need to be established to determine which data should be reprocessed. Research activities, including publication of research papers, continuation of the visiting scientist program, and participation in conferences and on committees will be encouraged to promote NOAA climate services.

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1993 Review of the World Data Center-A for Meteorology and the National Climatic Data Center Develop a policy on standards for format, transmission, and receipt of climate data, in partnership with the WMO and the global community. In addition, the NCDC will produce standards for archival functions and customer service, and peer-reviewed benchmarks for raw, baseline, and reference datasets. Maintain, develop, and acquire sufficient hardware and software to conduct operations within the center's budget. This will require an ongoing systems evaluation and continuing education in new software and programming languages. In addition, the NCDC would like a closer working relationship with other agencies and organizations that collect, analyze, and store meteorological data. To strengthen ties with academia, the NCDC envisions hosting conferences and workshops, having regular meetings with their Science Advisory Panel, and establishing a cooperative institute. A supplement to the Strategic Plan (June, 1993) indicates that the NCDC has begun to implement most of the above milestones. Exceptions include the following: 1) on-line data cannot yet be browsed, 2) product generation and data rescue efforts are proceeding more slowly than expected, 3) orders for data are not being processed in a timely fashion, 4) no progress has been made on creating standards for climate observations, and 5) little progress has been made on archival and customer service standards. The supplement makes no mention of whether the NCDC is satisfied with their level of interaction with federal program managers or with their broad user community. Panel View of NCDC Goals The strategic plan identifies which activities within each milestone have high priority, but does not address the broader issue of setting priorities among the milestones themselves. The plan implies that all are equally important, but the panel feels that the ambitious goals of the NCDC, coupled with the prospect of level funding, will require an overall priority structure. The NCDC should decide which areas they wish to excel in and devote available resources to those areas. The panel has the following comments on the Strategic Plan and its supplement: