Knowledge-Action Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting
Summary of a Workshop
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES PRESS
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NOTICE: The project that is the subject of this report was approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The members of the committee responsible for the report were chosen for their special competences and with regard for appropriate balance.
This workshop was supported by the George and Cynthia Mitchell Endowment for Sustainability Science and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Office of Global Programs under Grant No. NOAA 0546000. This summary is funded in part by a contract from the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration. Any opinions, findings, conclusions, or recommendations expressed in this publication are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the organizations or agencies that provided support for the project.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES
Advisers to the Nation on Science, Engineering, and Medicine
The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Upon the authority of the charter granted to it by the Congress in 1863, the Academy has a mandate that requires it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the National Academy of Sciences.
The National Academy of Engineering was established in 1964, under the charter of the National Academy of Sciences, as a parallel organization of outstanding engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of its members, sharing with the National Academy of Sciences the responsibility for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Wm. A. Wulf is president of the National Academy of Engineering.
The Institute of Medicine was established in 1970 by the National Academy of Sciences to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the National Academy of Sciences by its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, upon its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Harvey V. Fineberg is president of the Institute of Medicine.
The National Research Council was organized by the National Academy of Sciences in 1916 to associate the broad community of science and technology with the Academy’s purposes of furthering knowledge and advising the federal government. Functioning in accordance with general policies determined by the Academy, the Council has become the principal operating agency of both the National Academy of Sciences and the National Academy of Engineering in providing services to the government, the public, and the scientific and engineering communities. The Council is administered jointly by both Academies and the Institute of Medicine. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts and Dr. Wm. A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.
ROUNDTABLE ON SCIENCE AND TECHNOLOGY FOR SUSTAINABILITY
PAMELA MATSON (Co-Chair), Dean of the School of Earth Sciences and Goldman Professor of Environmental Studies,
Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences, Stanford University
JAMES MAHONEY (Co-Chair), Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Oceans and Atmosphere,
Department of Commerce and National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration,
GHASSEM ASRAR, Associate Administrator for Earth Science,
National Aeronautics and Space Administration,
PATRICK ATKINS, Director of Environmental Affairs,
GEORGE ATKINSON, Science and Technology Advisor to the Secretary of State,
U.S. Department of State,
ARDEN BEMENT, Acting Director,
National Science Foundation,
NANCY BIRDSALL, President,
Center for Global Development
WILLIAM CLARK, Harvey Brooks Professor of International Science, Public Policy, and Human Development,
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
JAMES CONNAUGHTON, Chairman,
Council on Environmental Quality,
DAVID GARMAN, Acting Under Secretary for Energy, Science and Environment,
U.S. Department of Energy,
PAUL GILMAN, Assistant Administrator for Research and Development,
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency,
THOMAS GRAEDEL, Professor of Industrial Ecology,
CHARLES GROAT, Director,
U.S. Geological Service,
STUART HART, Professor of Strategic Management and Director of the Sustainable Enterprise Initiative,
Kenan-Flagler Business School, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill
GEORGE HORNBERGER, Ernest H. Ern Professor of Environmental Sciences,
Department of Environmental Sciences, University of Virginia
SHARON HRYNKOW, Director,
Fogarty International Center, Health and Human Services,
JOSEPH JEN, Under Secretary for Research, Education, and Economics,
United States Department of Agriculture,
CALESTOUS JUMA, Professor of the Practice of International Development,
Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University
JONATHAN LASH, President,
World Resources Institute
JOHN MARBURGER, Director,
Office of Science and Technology Policy,
TODD MITCHELL, President,
Houston Advanced Research Center
PETER RAVEN, Director,
Missouri Botanical Garden
VERNON RUTTAN, Regents' Professor Emeritus,
Department of Applied Economics, University of Minnesota
JEFFREY SACHS, Director,
Columbia Earth Institute, and
Professor of Economics, International and Public Affairs, and Health Policy and Management,
EMMY SIMMONS, Assistant Administrator for Economic Growth, Agriculture, and Trade,
United States Agency for International Development,
GREGORY SYMMES, Director
PATRICIA KOSHEL, Senior Program Officer
LAURA HOLLIDAY, Senior Program Associate
STACEY SPEER, Senior Project Assistant
TABITHA BENNEY, Senior Project Assistant
We wish to express our sincere thanks to the many individuals who played significant roles in planning the Workshop on Decision Support Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting. Steering committee member William Clark (Harvard University) chaired the workshop and ensured that the workshop was well integrated into activities of the Task Force on Linking Knowledge to Action for Sustainable Development. The three additional steering committee members, who devoted a considerable amount of time to designing and planning the workshop, include Nicolas Graham (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Kathy Jacobs (University of Arizona), and Ed Miles (University of Washington).
This report has been reviewed in draft form by individuals chosen for their diverse perspectives and technical expertise, in accordance with procedures approved by the NRC's Report Review Committee. The purpose of this independent review is to provide candid and critical comments that will assist the institution in making its published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for quality and objectivity. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the process.
We wish to thank the following individuals for their review of this report: Daniel Basketfield, Seattle Public Utilities; Gregg Garfin, University of Arizona; Michael Glantz, National Center for Atmospheric Research; Maria Carmen Lemos, University of Michigan; and Holger Meinke, Agency for Food and Fibre Sciences.
Although the reviewers listed above have provided many constructive comments and suggestions, they were not asked to endorse the content of the report, nor did they see the final draft before its release. The review of this report was overseen by Thomas Dietz, Michigan State University, who was responsible for making certain that an independent examination of this report was carried out in accordance with institutional procedures and that all review comments were carefully considered. Responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authors and the institution.
Finally, we would like to recognize the contributions of the following National Research Council staff: Gregory Symmes, Director of the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability, who provided oversight for task force activities; Laura Holliday, Senior Program Associate for the Science and Technology for Sustainability Program, who coordinated the project; Tabitha Benney, who developed the project Web site; and Stacey Speer, who organized the logistical arrangements.
David W. Cash James Buizer
The National Academies' Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability provides a forum for sharing views, information, and analyses related to harnessing science and technology for sustainability. Members of the roundtable are drawn from senior decision makers from the U.S. government, industry, academia, and nonprofit organizations who must grapple with the issues of sustainable development and who are in a position to propose and mobilize new strategies for sustainability. Through its deliberations, the roundtable identifies new ways in which individuals and institutions can more effectively link science and technology (S&T) to the needs of decision makers in both the public and the private sectors. Each year, the roundtable seeks to make significant headway on two or more important issues that have been identified by the roundtable members. The roundtable selects issues that are of central importance to advancing a sustainability transition and that could benefit substantially from roundtable involvement.
During the roundtable’s 2003 annual meeting, roundtable members emphasized science and technology’s centrality to sustainable development. Members noted, however, that much of the science and technology generated by existing R&D systems is not efficiently used. To address this challenge, the roundtable established a task force charged with exploring mechanisms for effectively connecting research with the needs of policy makers and practitioners and reporting back to the roundtable with suggestions for activities that might be pursued by the roundtable, its members, or members’ institutions, to better link knowledge to action in support of sustainable development. The task force, which includes roundtable members and invited outside experts, was also instructed to collaborate with and build on other ongoing initiatives related to the subject, both within and outside the National Academies. The roundtable named the following individuals to its Task Force on Linking Knowledge to Action for Sustainable Development: William Clark (Harvard University, co-chair), James Mahoney (National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, co-chair), Robert Frosch [Harvard University (retired)], Gerald Keusch (Boston University), Pamela Matson (Stanford University), James McGroddy [IBM (retired)], Vernon Ruttan (University of Minnesota), and Emmy Simmons (U.S. Agency for International Development).
In conducting their work, the task force members organized, participated in, or drew from a series of workshops designed to document and evaluate experiences around the world in harnessing S&T to the service of societal goals. These workshops include:
International perspectives on the state of the art: In this workshop, carried out with task force member participation under auspices of the International Council for Science, Third World Academy of Sciences, and the Initiative on Science and Technology for Sustainability, participants discussed findings of a series of regional dialogues between scientists and decision makers that were conducted in preparation for the World Summit on Sustainable Development.
International research systems: In this workshop, hosted by Harvard University, an international group of scholars, including task force members, compared studies of the effectiveness of efforts to link knowledge to action in a wide range of sectors, including agriculture, health, energy, environment, and manufacturing.
The case of climate forecasts: Decision Support Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasts: This workshop, summarized in this report, was hosted by the National Academies and explored in detail the institutional and process linkages of decision support systems for seasonal to interannual climate forecasts. The workshop brought together producers, managers, and users of decision support systems from Brazil, Australia, Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands, Colombia, and the Pacific Northwest.
Managing the linkage: This workshop, hosted by the National Academies, brought together a group of program managers who were identified as having been exceptionally innovative or
successful in linking knowledge to action. The program managers had experiences in very different fields, such as technology, health, the environment, and engineering. Participants gave presentations on lessons they have learned and discussed commonalities in their experiences.
The role of universities: This workshop brought together an international group of leaders who are restructuring university-based programs to better harness science and technology for sustainability. Participants identified what works, common challenges, and needs.
These workshops used a variety of approaches, ranging from in-depth analyses of case studies to broad, cross-sectoral comparisons, and sought diverse perspectives from several sectors in order to identify broadly applicable commonalities in linking knowledge to action and to determine in which instances generalizations are not appropriate. Observations from these activities were reported to and discussed by the full roundtable at its annual meeting.
The workshop featured in this report, Decision Support Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting, was held May 6-8, 2004. It served to provide an examination of lessons learned about the design of effective systems for linking knowledge to action based on experience from the specific case of decision support systems for seasonal to interannual climate forecasting. The area of seasonal to interannual climate forecasting was chosen because: (1) climate variability has significant impact on decision making for sustainability; (2) there have been important advances in the science of climate forecasting in the last two decades; and (3) there is active experimentation underway in that area, involving various institutional approaches to producing and using climate forecasts. Lessons for institutional design may also be easier to draw in the area of seasonal to interannual climate forecasting compared to others because it is a relatively new field—young enough to include some systems that were designed “from scratch” as knowledge-action systems—but still includes the more typical incremental systems. In addition, the nature of seasonal to interannual climate forecasting, which involves complex, rapidly changing, interdisciplinary science at scales ranging from local, to regional, national, and supranational, makes it particularly relevant to other areas of sustainability science, which often involve similar complexities.
The workshop was designed and planned by a steering committee consisting of six members, including David W. Cash (Harvard University, co-convener), James L. Buizer (Arizona State University, co-convener), Nicolas Graham (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Kathy Jacobs (University of Arizona), Ed Miles (University of Washington), and Bill Clark (Harvard University).
The steering committee identified a set of rich cases representing a wide range of approaches and experiences to learn from at the workshop. The cases represented at the workshop were from: Colombia; Ceará, Brazil; Hawai’i and the Pacific Islands; Queensland, Australia; and the Pacific Northwest, United States (see Section III). For each of these cases, the steering committee identified as invitees to the workshop a small group of experienced individuals drawn from three communities: users of seasonal/interannual climate forecasts, including managers, policy makers, and planners; producers of such forecasts, including researchers, modelers, applications specialists, etc.; program managers who have been involved in the funding and support of decision support efforts. (See Appendix C for a list of participants.) These participants included key scientists and decision makers with expertise and extensive experience in producing and using climate forecasts and designing information and decision support systems.
Additional information about the Roundtable on Science and Technology for Sustainability; the activities of the Task Force on Linking Knowledge to Action for Sustainable Development; and specifics of the Workshop on Decision Support Systems for Seasonal to Interannual Climate Forecasting can be found at <http://www.nationalacademies.org/sustainabilityroundtable/>. Full text of this report is available online at <http://www.nap.edu>.