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The U.S. Global Change Research Program: An Assessment of FY 1991 Plans National Research Council NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1990
NationalAcademy Press · 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. . Washington, D.C. 20418 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 report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by a Report Review Committee consisting of members of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. The National Academy of Sciences is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of dis- tinguished 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. Frank Press 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. Robert M. White 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. Samuel O. Thier 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. Frank Press and Dr. Robert M. White are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the bIational Research Council. This report represents work under Contract No. OCE-9O14447 between the National Academy of Sciences and the National Science Foundation. Library of Congress Catalog Card No. 90-62105 International Standard Book Number 0-309-04328-X Available from: National Academy Press 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W. Washington, DC 20418 S191 Printed in the United States of America First Printing, September 1990 Second Printing, January 1991
NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL 2101 CON5TIT=ION AVENUE W~HIN=ON, D. C. 20418 O FF ~ C E OF TH E CHA l OMAN The Honorable D. Allan Bromley Assistant to the President for Science and Technology The White House Washington, D.C. 20506 Dear Dr. Bromley: On behalf of the National Research Council, we are pleased to transmit the accompanying report, The U. S. Global Change Research Program: An Assessment of FY 1991 Plans, as requested in your letter of January 29, 1990. The report was prepared by two panels organized under the auspices of our Committee on Global Change. The panels are to be commended for undertaking this study of a difficult issue where there are many points of view. At the outset we recognized that the panels faced a complex and difficult task in reviewing such large programs under very tight time constraints. However, we felt that the NRC could usefully respond to the specific and focused ques- tions posed in your letter. In our view, the panels have succeeded in the task set before them by scrutinizing the programs carefully, exposing both strong and weak points, and setting recommendations for future actions. At the same time, we want to note that the time constraints did not allow the panels to fully address all aspects and implications of the questions proposed. The complexity of the Global Change Research Program and its interdisciplinary character make formulation of a compre- hensive plan extremely difficult. The panels found that the research priorities outlined in the FY 1991 plan are consistent with the overall objective of achieving an improved under- standing of global environmental processes. The panels have outlined a number of issues which we believe require early attention Dy the government if the program is to achieve many of its objectives. We highlight some of these below; others are elaborated in the text. The report recommends that the agencies participating in the USGCRP develop a comprehensive global observational strat- egy for the program. The strategy would take into account complementary methods, whether space-based, airborne, or from the surface, as well as on-going observational systems operated on land, sea, and in space by agencies of the U.S. and other THE NATIONAL RESEARCH COUNCIL IS THE PRINCIPAL OPERATING AGENCY OF THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF SClEN'CES AND THE NATIONAL ACADEMY OF ENGINEERING TO SERVE GOVERNMENT AND OTHER ORGANIZATIONS.
D. Allan Bromley Page Two governments. The report does not address the question of the appropriate combination of space based, surface-based, or airborne research and monitoring activities that would be most cost-effective. To do so would have required considerably more information and time than were available for the study and would have required the development of a total program design, a task the panels were not requested to undertake. Never- theless, this question deserves the attention of government managers. The report concludes, however, that continuous, long-term, space-based observations of fundamental environmental param- eters are essential for achieving the underlying goals of the USGCRP. The panels found that NASA's Earth Observing System, in conjunction with complementary space missions, will provide data central to many of the high-priority objectives of the USGCRP, if plans and schedules are met. Regarding the imple- mentation of EOS, the report concludes that a significant measure of simultaneity is desirable for a number of instru- ments proposed to meet the research objectives of the EOS-A satellite series but has not been demonstrated to be necessary for the research objectives of the EOS-B series. The report also concludes that if funding becomes a problem, spreading budget reductions evenly over all elements of the program would be damaging. Funding priority should be placed on projects of highest~scientific priority. For the space components of the global observations system, the report concludes that it would be better to delay the launch of EOS spacecraft than to forego or diminish the effectiveness of precursor missions that are also intended to gather data essential to the USGCRP. EOS is an extremely complex and costly undertaking and every step necessary to minimize risk of failure must be emphasized. A failure could result in many years of delay in obtaining essential environmental information. The report calls attention to the need for a more detailed contingency plan than currently exists. Such a contingency plan is essential to ensure continuity of observations, one of the central needs of the program. While most of the instruments proposed for EOS have had a history of technical development, the Program envisions significant advances in remote-sensin~ technologies with attendant technical uncertainties. The risks range from the failure of individual instruments to a single- point system failure. It is not possible to assess the levels of such risks, but it is vital that contingencies be provided for.
D. Allan Bromley Page Three Finally, the report notes that the preeminent challenge to global change research is the synthesis of diverse data from many different sources. Investing in the early development of the EOS Data and Information System (EOSDIS) is necessary for the long-term success of the USGCRP. The intended scope of EOSDIS far exceeds that of any civilian data management system. The report concludes that a program of research and prototyping is needed to guide the evolution of EOSDIS. The National Research Council is pleased to have had the opportunity to contribute in this way to the advancement of global change research. Sincerely, nk Press Chairman Robert M. ite Vice-Chairman
PANEL TO REVIEW TlIE FY 1991 U.S. GLOBAL ClIANGE RESEARCH PROGRAM JOHN ~ EDDY, Chairman D. JAMES BAKER, JR., Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. NYLE C. BRADY, United Nations Development Program KEVIN C. BURKE, University of Houston RUSS E. DAVIS, University of California, San Diego ROBERT E. DICKINSON, National Center for Atmosphenc Research THOMAS E. GRAEDEL, AT&T Bell Laboratories PRISCILLA C. GREW, Minnesota Geological Survey WILLIAM J. MERRELL, JR., Texas A&M University WILLIAM H. SCHLESINGER, Duke University B. L. TURNER, II, Clark University GUNTER E WELLER, University of Alaska , University Corporation for Atmospheric Research Sta, RUTH DeFRIES, Senior Program Officer JOHN S. PERRY, Staff Director MYRON F. UMAN, NRC Assistant Executive Officer CLAUDETTE BAYLOR, Administrative Secretary TERRIE NOBLE, Administrative Assistant ROBERT C. RODNEY, Editor V11
PANEL TO REVIEW NASA'S EARTH OBSERVING SYSTEM IN THE CONTEXI OF THE USGCRP D. JAMES BAKER, JR., Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc., Chairman RICHARD ~ ANTHES, National Center for Atmospheric Research WILLIAM P. BISHOP, Desert Research Institute KEVIN C. BURKE, University of Houston JOHN DASSOULAS, The Johns Hopkins University ROBERT E. DICKINSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research JOHN ~ EDDY, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research ROBERT J. FOX University of Wisconsin, Madison LOUIS J. LANZEROlTI, AT&T Bell Laboratories JOHN H. McELROY, University of Texas, Arlington WILLIAM J. MERRELL, JR., Texas A&M University MARK B. SETTLE, ARCO Oil and Gas Company LARRY L. SMARR, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign BYRON D. TAP LEY, University of Texas, Austin FERRIS WEBSTER, Universitr of Delaware Invited Participant BARBARA MIHALAS, University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign Staff PAUL F. UHLIR, Senior Program Officer JOHN S. PERRY, Staff Director MYRON F. UMAN, NRC Assistant Executive Officer MARY ELLEN MACK, Senior Secretary TERRIE NOBLE, Administrative Assistant ROBERT C. RODNEY, Editor 1X
COMMITTEE ON GLOBAL CHANGE HAROLD ~ MOONEY, Stanford Universitr, Chairman PAUL G. RISSER, University of New Mexico, Ace Chairman D. JAMES BAKER, JR., Joint Oceanographic Institutions, Inc. FRANCIS P. BRETHERTON, University of Wisconsin KEVIN C. BURKE, University of Houston WILLIAM C. CLARK, Harvard University MARGARET B. DAVIS, University of Minnesota ROBERT E. DICKINSON, National Center for Atmospheric Research JOHN IMBRIE, Brown University ROBERT W. KATES, Brown University THOMAS F. MALONE. Ott Joseph College MICHAEL B. McELRO\, Harvard University BERRIEN MOORE, III, University of New Hampshire ELLEN S. MOSLEY-THOMPSON, Ohio State University PIERS J. SELLERS, University of Maryland Ex-Officio Members JOHN ~ EDDY, University Corporation for Atmospheric Research JAMES J. McCARTHY, Harvard University S.I. RASOOL, National Aeronautics and Space Administration Staff JOHN S. PERRY, Staff Director RUTH S. DeFRIES, Senior Program Officer CLAUDETTE BAYLOR, Administrative Secretary
Contents Preface xv Summary Assessment of the FY 1991 USGCRP The Earth Observing System in Context of the USGCRP 4 PART I: The U.S.Global Change Research Program: Report of the Panel to Review the BY 1991 US.Global Change Research Program Introduction 1. Reducing Uncertainties 1 11 13 2. Appropriate Balance 16 3. Processes for Coordination and Review 22 4. Other Issues PART II: The Contributions of EOS: Report of the Panel to Review NASA's Earth Observing System in the Content of the USGCRP Introduction . . . x~n 25 31
Environmental Parameters 6. Simultaneity of Data Collection 7. EOS Platforms 8. The EOS Data and Information System Appendixes The Charge to the National Research Council B. Comments on Projects in the Science Pnonty Elements of the FY 1991 USGCRP C. Protohrping for EOSDIS References Acronyms 34 50 61 72 85 90 99 103 105 XIV
Preface On January 29, 1990, the Assistant to the President for Science and Technology, D. Allan Bromley, wrote to the Chairman of the National Research Council (NRC), Frank Press, asking the NRC to review the inter- agency U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP), as described in the President's FY 1991 budget, and to address several specific questions about NASA s Earth Observing System (EOS) in that context. This report responds to that request. The report was prepared under the auspices of the NRC's Committee on Global Change (CGC). Over the past seven years, the CGC and its predecessor committees have issued a series of reports advising government and the scientific community on the critical scientific questions about global change and the research strategies needed to address them. ~ conduct the current study, the CGC organized two panels, which worked concurrently. One panel reviewed the USGCRP while the other addressed the questions about EOS. 1b assure coordination and consistency in the panels' work, several people, including their respective chairs, served as members of both. Both panels were subject to the policy and procedures of the NRC regarding potential sources of bias and conflicts of interest. The report is the work of the two panels. Part I was prepared by the Panel to Review the FY 1991 U.S. Global Change Research Program and Part II was prepared by the Panel to Review NASA s Earth Observing System in the Context of Global Change Research. In conducting their assessments, the panels examined the summary budget analysis entitled Our Changing Planet: The FY 1991 U. 5. Global xv
Change Research Program, a number of published reports on global change research and on EOS and related space-based observing missions, a forth- coming report on EOS being prepared by the NRC's Space Studies Board, and internal governmental working documents, some of which were only available in draft. In the limited time available for the study, each panel conducted two meetings at which it received briefings from agency person- nel and contractors. In addition, the panels solicited the views of a number of colleagues to gain as broad a perspective as possible. At the request of Dr. Bromley, the panels issued a preliminary report on March 30, 1990. The final report in hand here is consistent with the findings, conclusions, and recommendations of the preliminary report; it expands on the earlier analysis and extends it. Harold ~ Mooney Chairman Committee on Global Change XVI
The U.S. Global Change Research Program: An Assessment of FY 1991 Plans