participants, it is possible to define the key elements of a strategy that would facilitate climate research. They suggested the following elements:

  • Scientific insight into sensor requirements and implementation;

  • Calibration and validation of the sensor and its data products as well as comprehensive sensor characterization;

  • Data analysis to assess data quality and develop new data products;

  • Reprocessing of data to incorporate new knowledge;

  • Ground networks for validation;

  • Multiple approaches to variables to increase confidence;

  • Assessment of temporal and spatial sampling strategies; and

  • Technology development to lower costs and improve performance.

Workshop participants said that execution of this strategy was beyond the capabilities of any single agency. They also noted that the strategy required more than just observations—its components also include data analysis and technology development. Workshop participants viewed NPOESS as a critical element in executing a climate research strategy as it provides a platform for the long-term, continuous observations that will be required for the study of many climate-related variables. Programs sponsored by NASA ESE were also thought to be a critical element of a climate research technology development strategy. Currently, the ESE plans to rely heavily on NPOESS for the systematic observations that are required to meet its climate research objectives. Workshop participants saw the challenge for developing a NASA-NOAA climate research and monitoring program as being one of integrating the operational stability of NPOESS with the research flexibility of NASA/ESE. At present, no agency is charged, nor is there a formal process in place, to assess climate requirements and the overall approach and balance of a climate observational system.

In advance of the workshop, the committee distributed materials, including the following questions, for discussion:

  • How can research-quality data sets be obtained that are suitable for study of decadal-scale processes?

  • How can agencies implement the required program of long-term measurements to support climate research in a constrained fiscal environment?

A number of workshop participants concluded that the answers to these questions included both operational satellite platforms and research satellite platforms. Moreover, they believed it would involve a new category of missions in which both research and operations work together on data sets of mutual interest. Such preoperational missions could be used to bridge the needs of research and operational users as well as forge links between the observational and satellite sensor communities. An integrated approach to climate research is needed, according to workshop participants, because of the critical need for continuous high-quality data, the size of the national investment involved, and the need to demonstrate scientific progress upon which to base sound national policies regarding climate.


As noted, participants at the workshop were asked to consider opportunities in the near term to make incremental investments that would improve the suitability of operational missions for climate research. Further, participants were asked to be sensitive to the need for climate research to be carried out in a way that blends the flexibility provided by research missions with the long-term stability provided by operational missions.

The workshop focused on the following two questions:

  1. In the near-term (the next 2 to 3 years), what marginal investments can be made by the Integrated Program Office (IPO) to improve the climate capabilities of the NPOESS Preparatory Program (NPP) and NPOESS? What

The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine
500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001

Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement