Summary of Key Recommendations and Conclusions
As a fundamental strategy, the GOALS Panel endorses the proposal contained in the Science Plan for GOALS (NRC, 1994a) to extend the domain of interest beyond the tropical Pacific Ocean (the region of primary attention during TOGA) to include the other tropical oceans and neighboring continental land masses, as well as the influence of these tropical regions on higher latitudes. However, investigations of the Pacific region need to be continued and strengthened. The panel also embraces specifically the inclusion of studies of interactions of land surface hydrological processes with the atmosphere and the oceans. To provide initial emphases for GOALS, three major regional foci are proposed:
- the tropical Pacific Ocean;
- the Americas and surrounding oceans; and
- the Indian Ocean and surrounding land masses.
Due attention must be given to the global aspects of seasonal-to-interannual climate variability because of the connectivity through the atmosphere and the ocean.
For the further development of implementation plans for GOALS, the panel proposes that the program be structured around six major elements:
- long-term observations and analyses;
- process studies;
- empirical and diagnostic studies;
- applications and human dimensions; and
- data management.
A strong emphasis is placed on the maintenance and enhancement of existing observing systems, the integration of "single" and "combined" process studies, the improvement of component models of the atmosphere, the oceans, and land surface processes as well as their coupling, and a cohesive data and information management structure.
In order to involve a broader scientific community in the further planning of GOALS, the panel recommends that two working groups be formed, one on observations (GOWG) and one on modeling (GMWG). GOWG shall develop the scientific basis for a GOALS observation strategy especially with regards to spatial and temporal resolution. A key mission of the working group will be to define a strategy for space-home observations for the duration of the GOALS program. Furthermore, GOWG will act as an interface with GEWEX and DecCen observation groups. GMWG will work towards involving a broader cross-section of the U.S. scientific community in GOALS modeling activities and encourage and coordinate a program for model intercomparison, climate system simulation, and experimental prediction. It will also act as the interface with international groups such as CLIVAR/NEG.
The panel also believes that strong interfaces are necessary between the physical science(s) communities and those of the applications, biological, and human dimensions sectors. An early and ongoing dialogue between the respective communities is recommended.
Because of the overlapping time scales of interest between the GOALS program and those of GEWEX and DecCen, strong and well coordinated interfaces are recommended between the scientists involved in the activities and projects of these programs. In order to achieve the necessary coordination between programs and between the scientific communities likely to be involved, the establishment of a GOALS Project Office is highly recommended, as well as a federal interagency coordinating mechanism. Various other detailed proposals and recommendations are also contained in the text of this report under the respective subject sections.
The panel underscores that this strategic report is not intended to be definitive or conclusive as regards the scope of GOALS. Rather, the panel strongly endorses the philosophy that the program should remain flexible to incorporate new ideas and concepts as scientific knowledge, observational and modeling technology, and so forth, improve over the duration of the 15-year program.
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