Partnerships Essential for Implementation
The new emphasis on climate within the mission of NOAA and the accompanying responsibility for stewardship of climate data will require an increased focus on partnerships. Because Climate Data Records (CDRs) require consistency and continuity to provide insights into climate variability and change, they require a much broader input from the research community than has been necessary for the operational data required to support weather forecasting. As NOAA looks to the future the recognition of expanding capabilities in handling and processing high-volume data rates, necessary for addressing satellite and Numerical Weather Prediction (NWP) assimilation processing (such as the expanding use of data grids, shared processing, virtual laboratories, high-bandwidth data transmission), combined with the capabilities for distributed support from user communities can increase the ability for partnerships to more directly address the development, analysis, reanalysis, and research of CDRs.
The nature of climate and the family of data records necessary to describe and potentially predict its variability and change requires a global view, which places a focus on CDRs from satellites. As noted in previous chapters, creating a program to develop, produce, archive, and disseminate CDRs will involve a large investment in monetary and human resources. NOAA alone cannot create high-quality CDRs that satisfy the broad user communities of today and provide climate data stewardship for future generations. Fortunately NOAA’s plan to create CDRs is of interest to a variety of national and international programs that share similar goals. To maximize the effect of NOAA’s finite resources it should develop partnerships with other groups whose goals relate, at least in part, to those of NOAA. In developing a CDR plan and in taking on its stewardship role it is crucial for NOAA to take a proactive leadership role in international and interagency partnerships and leverage the limited funding available to support this type of effort. This will require an open and collaborative environ-
ment with full participation from the national interagency and international climate science community.
This chapter addresses the role of interagency and academic teams and partnerships, the role of international partnerships and programs, and the potential need for a change in the present NOAA structure to engage the broader research community and increase the extramural research necessary to achieve success in the long-term CDR process and acceptance of CDRs by the community.
Because a number of government agencies share climate-related missions, the CDR process requires strong interagency partnerships. CDRs involving multi-agency participation are strengthened by a diverse funding basis and oversight, and leveraged by human resources provided through those partnerships. Several existing mechanisms can be used to strengthen the multi-agency interactions required in the development of the CDR process; organizations such as the following have some existing leadership roles and responsibilities that should prove useful: U.S. Climate Change Science Program (CCSP1), Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research (OFCM), and the National Polar-orbiting Operational Satellite System (NPOESS) Integrated Program Office (IPO).
For the United States, the CCSP has a mission with goals, objectives, and management infrastructure that addresses CDRs with involvement of both Climate Data Science Teams (CDSTs) and Climate Data Science Councils (CDSCs). The CDST teams “are composed of a group of scientists and engineers whose purpose is to convert raw instrument data into CDRs, including calibration, algorithm development, validation, error analysis, quality control, and data product design” (CCSP, 2003), which corresponds closely to the role and responsibilities of the Fundamental Climate Data Record (FCDR) teams. The CDSCs are responsible for climate observations in support of CCSP research themes, similar in scope and responsibility to the Thematic Climate Data Record (TCDR) teams.
The organizational structure of CCSP (Figure 5-1) involves wide agency participation, and its access to the highest levels of government provides a framework that addresses most of the concerns (lessons learned) and issues highlighted in previous chapters for NOAA. As a key partner and participant in
the CCSP process already, NOAA has both the capability and responsibility to seriously consider approaching the CDR process within this CCSP framework.
The Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorological Services and Supporting Research (OFCM) has the mission to coordinate meteorological activities for 15 federal agencies, and it could be considered for supporting or assisting in managing the CDR process. OFCM has a stronger tie to the operational services than CCSP, and it is increasing its climate services. It has a strong success record for coordinating past multi-agency activities (e.g., Next Generation Radar [NEXRAD] and Automated Surface Observing System [ASOS] procurement and deployment) and there are some advantages to developing the CDR process through the OFCM. OFCM has broad operational weather responsibilities, however, and shifting focus to climate services and CDRs may not be as easily achieved through OFCM as through CCSP.
Bilateral and Multilateral National Partnerships Involving NOAA, NASA, and DOD
NOAA and NASA have a history of cooperative activities related to CDR generation, including the NOAA/NASA Pathfinder program, the joint NOAA and NASA support of development of datasets for NOAA’s Climate Change Data and Detection project, NOAA scientist participation on NASA science teams that produce CDRs, and NOAA/NASA cooperation on the generation of long-term ozone data. Unfortunately the agencies lack a formal, systematic procedure for ongoing cooperation.
Previous NRC reports have outlined several key guidelines for partnerships and programs related to climate data (NRC, 2000a,c; 2003a). Given that the operational meteorological community now formally recognizes climate as a mission, along with the related aspects required to develop climate data records, several of the previous recommendations can be restated from the CDR perspective. NOAA should approach NASA to improve and formalize the process of developing and communicating CDR requirements and priorities (see Appendix E for a listing of previous NRC recommendations). The research and operational communities also should be more alert for new and unexpected applications of NASA’s exploratory research and establish a process of assistance for discovering these applications. With the proposed advisory council, science theme teams, and open science workshops, NOAA will have regular contact with user communities, and they should pass the user recommendations on to NASA so that NASA is aware of user concerns as well. This creates a more formal NOAA process to identify user requirements for NASA research and it would benefit both agencies.
A formal process for evaluating all NASA Earth science missions for potential climate applications would provide a solid foundation for developing effective plans for transitioning activities. The advisory council envisioned here could interact with NASA to gather information and advise NOAA on upcoming NASA missions. Regardless of how NOAA forms a plan for interagency communication, the committee stresses that this is a key step in creating a successful long-term CDR program.
The NPOESS IPO2 (NOAA, DOD, and NASA) is a good first step in formalizing some aspects of the cooperative process. Since the polar-orbiting satellites provide the largest portion of the U.S. data for CDRs, the existing NOAA partnerships with NASA and the DOD (including the IPO) should be strengthened and expanded to ensure the specific aspects of CDRs are systematically addressed.
To effect a smooth transition between the research-oriented Earth Observing System (EOS) program and its continuation as an operational program, NASA has successfully initiated a bridging mission called the NPOESS Preparatory Program (NPP). The primary objectives are to provide NASA with continuation of global change observations after EOS Terra and Aqua and to provide NPOESS with risk reduction demonstration and validation of critical NPOESS sensors, their algorithms, and their processing strategies. NASA’s experience with climate-quality observations is that detailed characterization of satellite sensors must be made during development and testing, and frequent calibration during each mission is required to match a satellite’s observations to a preceding satellite to avoid measurement degradations that are indistinguishable from climatic trends. This mission will accordingly address a limited set of FCDRs that would carryover into the NPOESS program.
Because of the focused Polar Operational Environmental Satellite (POES) acquisition and operational mission responsibilities, the breadth of the IPO mission would have to be expanded to appropriately address the FCDR and TCDR generation from in situ, nonpolar, and non-US satellites. This may not be sufficient to achieve the needed focus on the necessary CDR development process.
Other National Agencies
NOAA should expand communications with other agencies whose responsibilities include sustained climate observations or climate impacts, namely, the U.S. Geological Survey, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Although these agencies are not considered major contributors to satellite climate data record efforts, they do represent large and important user communities of CDRs, and they could provide useful insight needed for creating CDRs. For some CDR needs they may also be willing to share costs for the generation of the CDR, and they may be able to provide in situ data that is essential for verifying and improving CDRs.
The National Ocean Partnership Program (NOPP) is an interagency program worth examining as a potential model for how federal agencies might organize themselves to create CDRs. NOPP was formed in 1997 as an organization of federal agencies that fund oceanographic research and operations. The purpose of NOPP is to coordinate this funding by establishing priorities for research initiatives, avoiding duplication, and leveraging resources from the various agencies to address priorities. NOPP has a small administrative staff, and its major functions are carried out by three groups: (1) the National Ocean Research Leadership Council (NORLC) made up of high-level representatives from the federal agencies. There are now 16 agencies represented on the NORLC, but the chairmanship rotates among the four major funding agencies (NSF, NOAA, Navy, and NASA); (2) an Interagency Working Group that meets once a month and is made up of working-level program managers from each agency; and (3) an Ocean Research Advisory Panel (ORAP) consisting of recognized experts from outside the government who advise NOPP concerning science priorities. At least once a year NOPP issues a Broad Agency Announcement (BAA) soliciting proposals in a particular research area. The funding for each BAA usually is drawn from several agencies. NOPP staff helps administer the proposal review process; awards for projects are then made by the agencies providing the funds.
Considering NOPP as a model for how the U.S. government agencies might organize themselves for creating CDRs, the leadership panel mentioned in earlier chapters might actually be subsumed by such an organization that is much larger than NOAA. NOAA is leading the effort for the NORLC to develop the Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS), which is a coordinated national and international network of observations, data management, and analyses that systematically acquires and disseminates data and
information on past, present, and future states of the oceans and the nation’s Exclusive Economic Zone. Under this NOPP model NOAA may be able to utilize some IOOS assets and management structure for the CDR program.
As an internal NOAA activity, the management of the CDR process implementation could be addressed within the existing NOAA management structure; as an interagency or international cooperative process, the leadership and advisory councils would necessarily have to reflect the participation and cooperation of the appropriate interagency and international partners. This would probably require an interagency/international working group similar to that mentioned here within the NOPP. There would then be three groups analogous to those forming the NOPP. A leadership council would involve high-level representatives from the federal agencies who have the authority to make commitments for their agencies. At this level the agencies would decide on the role each is willing to take and the resources that are brought to the table for a collective effort. An interagency working group would oversee the funding of CDR generation, and an external scientific advisory panel would advise as to the selection of datasets that meet the criteria for becoming CDRs. Using an organizational model such as NOPP would establish the CDR development process as a new, independent cooperative structure among the interested and contributing agencies.
NOAA and Academic Partners
Although NOAA’s relationships with academic partners have been primarily focused on applied research for operations, academic partners have conducted climate research under NOAA funding through several key Cooperative Institutes and grants funded by such NOAA programs as the Office of Global Programs, Office of Research and Technology Applications, National Marine Fisheries Service, Coastal Ocean Program, National Undersea Research Program, and the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program.
The development of satellite CDRs involves a significant and sophisticated understanding of the end-to-end CDR process: instrument capabilities, space platform characteristics, retrieval methods, calibration and validation issues, and processing methods; therefore, a number of different skills and in-depth knowledge of each are required. NOAA’s Cooperative Institutes collectively have the breadth of special expertise required and can support CDR development by contributing (1) scientific expertise to stewardship teams; (2) in situ data useful for CDR development and verification; (3) their data processing and computing infrastructure as needed (e.g., 20+ years of International Satellite Cloud Climatology Project (ISCCP) processing and 15
years of Scanning Multichannel Microwave Radiometer and Special Sensor Micrwave/Imager (SMMR/SSM/I) processing at the NSIDC); and (4) graduate students and postdocs who have gained CDR experience and have built NOAA’s capacity in this area.
These Cooperative Institutes have been successful in advancing research, operations, sustained observations, applied climatology, and in training students, postdocs, and junior scientists for NOAA missions. The existing institutes show how strong and continuing connections with the university community (not just through the institutes) will be necessary and beneficial to the entire CDR process. Two other examples of NOAA’s academic related programs are The National Weather Service (NWS) Collaborative Science, Technology, and Applied Research (CSTAR) Program, which focuses on collaborative university and NWS research applied to forecast operations, and the Cooperative Program for Operational Meteorology, Education and Training (COMET) Outreach Program, which funds research applied to forecast operations.
Participation of academic partners in instrument teams, science teams, user groups, and advisory panels and committees is also essential for ensuring the success of CDRs. Feedback on the utility of CDRs in climate applications from the academic and private sector communities is critical to their success. A related and critical aspect of CDR development is data management; as an example of the previous recognition of this importance, NOAA/ NESDIS since 1976 has been providing support for the data management in the NSIDC/WDC for Glaciology in Boulder, Colorado.
With a wide variety of proven and potential societal benefits related to applications based on CDRs, there are also private sector interests in CDR applications (Figure 4-4), and relationships with these interests should be developed and maintained. There is a long history of private sector environmental data relationships with NOAA and NASA that may be considered for use with CDRs.
Among the NOAA programs through which private sector partners can be funded include the National Sea Grant College Program (a partnership and bridge between government, academia, industry, scientists, and private citizens) and the Saltonstall-Kennedy Grant Program (financial assistance for research and development projects to strengthen and develop the U.S. fishing industry). The NWS had private sector partners for delivery of NEXRAD radar data, a program that ended in January 2001. More recently
the NWS embarked on another restructuring of NEXRAD data distribution, using the Unidata Local Data Manager. Private sector representatives have been involved formally in the strategic planning and have provided recommendations for data types and distribution mechanisms.
With regard to other types of climate data, NOAA has private citizen partners in the NOAA Cooperative Observers Network (http://www.nws.noaa.gov/om/coop/). This network produces observations that can assist in the ground validation of satellite CDRs. NOAA is encouraged to continue its modernization (as in the case of the Climate Reference Network) and maintenance of this service through training, improved instrumentation (adding such nontraditional but critical sensors as soil moisture sensors), and expanding the spatial coverage of the network in order to provide the best in situ data needed to answer critical climate questions.
In the area of regional climate NOAA is working with the Western Governors Association to plan a drought monitoring network. The association is sponsoring a drought bill to Congress that calls for establishment of a national drought council as well as the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS), a nationwide drought monitoring network (a partnership of federal and state agencies and external partners) to measure parameters from sky to soil (soil moisture at several depths). The drought monitoring includes the satellite vegetation index and surface wetness measurements.
The developing NOAA Climate Transition Program (NCTP) also aims to expand regional climate services by developing information tools for decision makers and providing education and outreach capacity for new products.
The NASA Sea-viewing Wide Field-of-View Sensor (SeaWFS) ocean color project also has a private sector partnership. According to the SeaWFS Project Web site (http://seawifs.gsfc.nasa.gov/SEAWFS.html):
The SeaWiFS mission has been made affordable and timely because of its unique private vendor, data purchase structure. As part of the contract between NASA and Orbital Sciences Corporation [OSC], NASA retains all rights to data for research purposes, and ORBIMAGE retains all rights for commercial and operational purposes. There has been an embargo period of 2 weeks from collection for general distribution of data to research users to protect ORBIMAGE’s commercial interest. Three exceptions to the 2-week embargo are a) field experiments requiring data for ship positioning, b) operational demonstrations to prove feasibility and usefulness, and c) assessment of calibration/validation and instrument performance by NASA. Access to the NASA data archive has been permitted for research purposes by authorized users only. After five years, the data may be used without restriction.
There are also significant potential private partner connections related to CDRs in the energy, insurance, agriculture, financial (e.g., weather derivatives market) and private weather service industries. Involvement of the American Meteorological Society’s Private Sector Board and other private sector organizations (e.g., Commercial Weather Services Association) should be encouraged to ensure participation this stakeholder community. For most satellite CDRs private sector partners would be valuable participants in advisory committees and user groups, and as collaborators with academic partners.
Climate has been a global concern since the first World Climate Conference in 1979 and following the organization of the World Climate Research Programme (WCRP) jointly by the World Meteorological Organization (WMO), International Oceanographic Commission (IOC), and International Council for Scientific Unions (ICSU). The organization of meteorological observing networks and coordination and sharing of satellite observations internationally is an indispensable component of global climate research.
The Committee on Earth Observation Satellites (CEOS), currently chaired by the NOAA/NESDIS director, Greg Withee, and the International Global Observing Strategy partnership (IGOS) form the basis for strong and continuing international cooperation on the acquisition and development of CDRs from the international satellite systems. As a result of the recent Earth Observation Summit, an ad hoc Group on Earth Observations (GEO) was established to prepare a 10-year implementation plan for a coordinated, comprehensive, and sustained Earth observation system (or systems). This provides additional focus and support for further development of the CDR process internationally. It is important for NOAA/NESDIS to take advantage of these broad, high-level relationships, since CDR development may require investments by meteorology and space agencies from other countries to ensure reliable and consistent CDR global datasets.
For satellite data there are also international bilateral partnerships between NOAA/NESDIS and the European Organisation for the Exploitation of Meteorological Satellites (EUMETSAT). NASA also has these type partnerships with the European Space Agency (ESA), Radarsat International, and the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), formerly the National Space Development Agency of Japan, all of which can facilitate development of many of the FCDRs required for supporting the family of CDRs. In addition, the National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the World Data Center for
Meteorology. However, the development of the thematic CDRs that focus on the climate parameters blend FCDRs from a variety of international sources and data types (satellite and in situ) and, therefore, require a significant involvement in the international projects currently developing these types of global climate products. NOAA should proactively focus on broad data sharing and exchanges, as necessary, with international partners. International data access will allow the greatest climate science knowledge advancement.
The WCRP projects Cryosphere and Climate (CliC), Climate Variability and Predictability (CLIVAR), Stratospheric Processes and Their Role in Climate (SPARC), and especially Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) are integrating FCDRs from countries and organizations worldwide, leveraging the funds required and demonstrating the added value of international collaboration in developing climate products. Several of the WCRP projects have well-established and published procedures supported by the international community as well as data management working groups coordinating their production. Several have data commitments made under the WCRP international agreement process. Examples include ISCCP (clouds), Global Precipitation Climatology Project (GPCP) (precipitation), Global Water Vapor Project (GVaP), Global Aerosol Climatology Project (GACP), International Satellite Land-Surface Climatology Project (ISLSCP) all under GEWEX, as well as the Arctic Precipitation Data Archive at the GPCC, and the International Arctic Buoy Program under the Arctic Climate System (ACSYS, now CliC). NOAA currently has both a data supply, participatory involvement, and data archival role in the ISCCP and GPCP projects, but not the broad proactive, leadership role across the climate community that is required to take on the stewardship necessary for achieving global acceptance of the family of CDRs.
A strong and sustaining mechanism is required within NOAA to take advantage of international activities in satellite programs and disciplinary climate system programs and projects. While NOAA has well-established operational links with other national space agencies and climate services, it is less well established in leadership roles for development of the broad range of global CDR projects of the WCRP.
Effective partnerships will be essential in the CDR process. The broad need and uses of CDRs throughout the interdisciplinary, interagency, and international community require the involvement of these groups in the development of CDRs through both science advisory teams and in manage-
ment, coordination, and funding. The difficulty in recommending an interagency or international organizational structure for the CDR process is that the greater the participation and involvement of organizations outside of NOAA, the greater the influence in decisions and outcome that come from beyond NOAA. While we believe this broader involvement is certainly necessary, this could threaten the long-term stewardship and leadership role we also believe NOAA must play to ensure a successful CDR process. NOAA must take ownership of the overall process to be a true long-term steward; however, it clearly cannot do this alone. We have previously recommended the basic organizational structure of a leadership council, supported by an advisory council and expert and science teams for the FCDRs and TCDRs. While this basic functional organization is necessary, broadening into the multi-agency and international arenas will require an additional interagency and international working group for cross-organization implementation management. We also believe that building on existing organizations is preferred to establishing new and independent organizational structures, and have discussed such existing organizations as CCSP, OFCM, IPO, IGOS, WCRP, and NOPP. While none of these organizations were designed to serve just NOAA, all were created and serve a function based on multiple agency or international involvement and funding support. The key element is for NOAA to retain leadership, stewardship or, in essence, act as the executive agent for the climate community and request support from one of these existing organizations to accept the role of implementing organization for the CDR process on a full participatory basis. If the implementing organization were to fail to function properly or were to go out of existence, NOAA would retain the responsibility for maintaining the CDR process within its own or another organizational structure, while containing the basic recommended organization elements.
While existing international organizations could be used, we believe the existing U.S. multi-agency organizations should be considered first, rather than a new or probably more complicated international structure. Keeping in mind that as the current CEOS and IGOS partner activities develop and themes become closer to implementation, NOAA must become a part of this process to ensure appropriate international understanding, cooperation, and support for the CDR process. At this time the most appropriate structure to initiate the CDR process under NOAA stewardship appears to be the current CCSP structure with its CDSTs and CDSCs. It may be that NOAA should take on the observations and data management portion of the CCSP (at a minimum for CDRs that are primarily satellite-based) as the lead or executive agent for the implementation of these parts of the
CCSP. Successful development, maintenance, research support, and long-term commitment to CDRs will require strong, sustained funding support for this process and associated agreement from all CCSP agencies. Even with interagency and international support, this is a new commitment to support the broad climate science community, and will need greater funding than NOAA has previously committed.