Examples of Access Restrictions on Foreign Atmospheric Data.
1. Real-time access to weather and seasonal-to-interannual climate forecasts from the European Center for Medium-Range Weather Forecasting is restricted. The U.S. National Weather Service and certain climate research centers (e.g., IRI) can obtain access to these data through institutional agreements, however real-time access by individual U.S. researchers is generally denied. U.S. commercial interests are also denied real-time access to these data.
2. The U.K. Meteorological Office (UKMO) maintains a data base of climate data at:
Access to these data is only possible through individual agreements with the UKMO and access is not guaranteed if the data are to be used for commercial or business purposes.
3. The Canadian Centre for Climate Modeling and Analysis makes its model output available to the research community. However, access to these data is not readily available if the data are to be used “as a part of, or as the basis of a data base, product, or service
for access or distribution outside of [an] organization, or for commercial sale.”
4. The IPCC Data Distribution Centre does not allow commercial use of its data. (see, e.g., http://ipcc-ddc.cru.uea.ac.uk/)
Over the past ten years, most of the governments of Western Europe have moved from taxpayer-funded meteorological services to ones that are increasingly being asked to recover a substantial portion of their costs of operation. This has given rise to some degree of conflict in the field of international meteorology where data and products, once eagerly exchanged without restrictions, now have intrinsic economic value. We are seeing increasing reluctance on the part of several meteorological services to provide data and products without restrictions being placed on their use or redistribution.
In 1995, the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) passed a resolution (Res 40, Congress XII) that tried to continue the free and unrestricted exchange of environmental data and products. This resolution recognized that some services may be required to place certain restrictions on their products and established the conditions for data distribution among countries.
During the discussions leading up to the resolution, the Director of the British Met Office, Prof. Julian Hunt, stated that he did not intend to make any of his climate projections publicly available as they were too valuable commercially to give away. This practice could have the impact of denying US economic interests the latest in climate forecasting capabilities if the US capability falls behind that of other countries.