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FROM RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS IN WEATHER SATELLITES AND NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION: CROSSING THE VALLEY OF DEATH 5 Concluding Remarks Great demands are placed on the forecast capability of the United States because of the great variety of weather events that are experienced and the impacts of the major weather events on the nation's citizens and economy. In addition, there is growing public interest in better projections of climate variability and climate change and in expanding the forecast family to better serve the needs of our nation. As examples, better forecasts of air quality, health hazards, space weather, lightning, and water availability and quality are possible. The potential is enormous and the demand for new and diverse forecasting products will continue to grow. If the forecasting system can satisfy this demand, the result will be increased protection of human health and safety and improved economic benefit. However, BASC's assessment of U.S. efforts indicates that current demands stress the present resources and capability and that U.S. weather services are failing to take advantage of our nation's research accomplishments to improve operational forecasts. This deficiency is limiting realization of national benefits. As recommended in The Atmospheric Sciences Entering the Twenty-First Century (NRC, 1998a), BASC reiterates the need for the establishment of a public discussion procedure involving the NWS users, the research community, and the private sector. Such a discussion should balance the push of science from the research community and the pull of national needs for new forecast products.
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FROM RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS IN WEATHER SATELLITES AND NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION: CROSSING THE VALLEY OF DEATH BASC recognizes the need for the private sector to have greater access to government facilities. Indeed, The Atmospheric Sciences Entering the Twenty-First Century (NRC, 1998a) recommended the close collaboration of the private sector, the public sector, and the academic community. BASC, in cooperation with the Federal Committee on Meteorological Services and Supporting Research, is maintaining an awareness of the issues and will address these roles with respect to climate at the planned 2000 summer study that deals with climate services. Recommendation Balance-1 NOAA should adopt the philosophy in which new sensor development would incorporate plans for the inclusion of funds for the transition of the data into operational products at the appropriate stage of the development process. There are numerous examples of the development of new technologies without concomitant improvements in operational products. The NEXRAD implementation is a case in point. NEXRAD data are used successfully for short-term severe weather prediction, but NEXRAD radar data assimilation algorithms have not been sufficiently developed and tested for input into EMC's operational NWP forecast models. Satellite sensors are a second case in point. If valuable, the assimilation of new observations should become part of the operational suite of measurements used in predictions. Agency managers at the summer study suggested that 10 percent of the cost of a new sensor should be budgeted for research and transition of the data into operational forecasts. The path forward is obviously constrained by resource availability. BASC believes that at the present time many segments of the weather and climate community, including research and operations, could use more resources, but the transition from research investment to operational capability is especially critical to address. The operational environmental satellites operated by NOAA are critical to weather and climate prediction, yet no mechanism exists for effectively incorporating the benefits from the NASA research instruments into the operational systems. Almost all of the nation's operational weather and climate guidance products come from EMC, which does not presently possess
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FROM RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS IN WEATHER SATELLITES AND NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION: CROSSING THE VALLEY OF DEATH the necessary resources to transfer many of the U.S. advances in observations and modeling to operations. Thus, there is a built-in inefficiency in which many of the advances that have had their funding justified through improved weather and climate forecasting cannot find their way into U.S. operations because of personnel and computational resource limitations at EMC. In fact, many of the U.S. research advances are incorporated into foreign products first. If this is allowed to continue, the United States will be at a competitive disadvantage in many areas, including private sector forecast services development and even national security. Recommendation Balance-2 It is clearly preferable to add the necessary resources to EMC without negatively impacting the nation's weather and climate research enterprise. However, if that is not possible then BASC recommends that some of the nation's weather and climate research resources be shifted to EMC-related enterprises and the USWRP. Finally, BASC recommends that NOAA study the balance of its efforts in weather and climate with the goal of establishing an organization that efficiently balances the task of performing research and transferring this research into operations. This study should also take into account the research provided by other agencies, most notably NSF and NASA. Such agencies should also help in providing prototype capabilities to transform their research into the applications for which they were intended. Study of the balance between research and operations should occur continuously, otherwise, imbalances will quickly re-establish themselves.
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