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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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FROM RESEARCH TO OPERATIONS IN WEATHER SATELLITES AND NUMERICAL WEATHER PREDICTION

CROSSING THE VALLEY OF DEATH

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Commission on Geosciences, Environment, and Resources

National Research Council

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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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 report is funded by a grant from the National Aeronautics and Space Administration and a contract from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. The views expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of NASA or NOAA or any of its sub-agencies.

International Standard Book Number 0-309-06941-6

Additional copies of this report are available from:

National Academy Press
2101 Constitution Avenue, NW Box 285 Washington, D.C. 20055 800-624-6242 202-334-3313(in the Washington Metropolitan Area)www.nap.edu

Cover: Monument Valley, Arizona

Copyright 2000 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.

Printed in the United States of America

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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THE NATIONAL ACADEMIES

National Academy of Sciences

National Academy of Engineering

Institute of Medicine

National Research Council

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. William 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. Kenneth I. Shine 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. William A. Wulf are chairman and vice chairman, respectively, of the National Research Council.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
×

BOARD ON ATMOSPHERIC SCIENCES AND CLIMATE

ERIC J. BARRON (Co-Chair),

Pennsylvania State University, University Park

JAMES R. MAHONEY (Co-Chair)*,

Mahoney Environmental Consultants, McLean, Virginia

SUSAN K. AVERY,

Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences, University of Colorado, Boulder

HOWARD B. BLUESTEIN,

University of Oklahoma, Norman

LANCE F. BOSART*,

State University of New York, Albany

STEVEN F. CLIFFORD,

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, Boulder, Colorado

GEORGE L. FREDERICK,

Radian Electronic Systems, Austin, Texas

MARVIN A. GELLER,

State University of New York, Stony Brook

CHARLES E. KOLB,

Aerodyne Research, Inc., Billerica, Massachusetts

JUDITH L. LEAN,

Naval Research Laboratory, Washington, D.C.

ROGER A. PIELKE, JR.,

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

MICHAEL J. PRATHER,

University of California, Irvine

ROBERT T. RYAN,

WRC-TV, Washington, D.C.

MARK R. SCHOEBERL,

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

JOANNE SIMPSON,

NASA Goddard Space Flight Center, Greenbelt, Maryland

NIEN DAK SZE*,

Atmospheric and Environmental Research, Inc., Cambridge, Massachusetts

THOMAS F. TASCIONE,

Sterling Software, Inc., Bellevue, Nebraska

ROBERT A. WELLER,

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

ERIC F. WOOD,

Princeton University, New Jersey

Ex Officio Members

DONALD S. BURKE,

Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, Maryland

DARA ENTEKHABI,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

MICHAEL C. KELLEY,

Cornell University, Ithaca, New York

MARIO MOLINA,

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge

JOHN O. ROADS,

Scripps Institution of Oceanography, La Jolla, California

EUGENE M. RASMUSSON,

University of Maryland, College Park

EDWARD S. SARACHIK,

University of Washington, Seattle

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
×

NRC Staff

ELBERT W. (JOE) FRIDAY, JR., Director

LAURIE S. GELLER, Program Officer

ALEXANDRA ISERN, Program Officer

PETER A. SCHULTZ, Program Officer

DIANE L. GUSTAFSON, Administrative Assistant

ROBIN MORRIS, Financial Associate

TENECIA A. BROWN, Project Assistant

CARTER W. FORD, Project Assistant

† Beginning 1/2000

* Ending 12/1999

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
×

COMMISSION ON GEOSCIENCES, ENVIRONMENT, AND RESOURCES

GEORGE M. HORNBERGER (Chair),

University of Virginia, Charlottesville

RICHARD A. CONWAY,

Union Carbide Corporation (Retired), S. Charleston, West Virginia

LYNN GOLDMAN,

Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, Baltimore, Maryland

THOMAS E. GRAEDEL,

Yale University, New Haven, Connecticut

THOMAS J. GRAFF,

Environmental Defense, Oakland, California

EUGENIA KALNAY,

University of Maryland, College Park

DEBRA KNOPMAN,

Progressive Policy Institute, Washington, D.C.

BRAD MOONEY, J.

Brad Mooney Associates, Ltd., Arlington, Virginia

HUGH C. MORRIS,

El Dorado Gold Corporation, Vancouver, British Columbia

H. RONALD PULLIAM,

University of Georgia, Athens

MILTON RUSSELL,

Joint Institute for Energy and Environment and University of Tennessee (Emeritus), Knoxville

ROBERT J. SERAFIN,

National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado

ANDREW R. SOLOW,

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, Massachusetts

E-AN ZEN,

University of Maryland, College Park

NRC Staff

ROBERT M. HAMILTON, Executive Director

GREGORY H. SYMMES, Associate Executive Director

JEANETTE SPOON, Administrative and Financial Officer

SANDI FITZPATRICK, Administrative Associate

Page viii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Acknowledgments

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 the published report as sound as possible and to ensure that the report meets institutional standards for objectivity, evidence, and responsiveness to the study charge. The review comments and draft manuscript remain confidential to protect the integrity of the deliberative process. We thank the following individuals for their participation in the review of this report:

Radford Byerly, Jr., Boulder, Colorado

Kerry Emanuel, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Alexander H. Flax, Potomac, Maryland

Robert A. Frosch, Harvard University

Louis J. Lanzerotti, Bell Laboratories

Margaret A. LeMone, National Center for Atmospheric Research

Robert J. Serafin, National Center for Atmospheric Research

While the individuals listed above have provided constructive comments and suggestions, it must be emphasized that responsibility for the final content of this report rests entirely with the authoring committee and the institution.

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Preface

The term “Crossing the Valley of Death” is sometimes used in industry to describe a fundamental challenge for research and development (R&D) programs. For technology investments, the transitions from development to implementation are frequently difficult, and, if done improperly, these transitions often result in “skeletons in Death Valley.” Successful transitions from R&D to operational implementation always require: (1) an understanding of the importance (and risks) of the transition, (2) development and maintenance of appropriate transition plans, (3) adequate resource provision, and (4) continuous feedback (in both directions) between the R&D and operational activities. In the case of the atmospheric and climate sciences, inadequacies in transition planning and resource commitment can seriously inhibit the implementation of good research leading to useful societal benefits.

During the past generation, the atmospheric and climate sciences have experienced major improvements on various time and space scales in observational resources, scientific understanding, and forecasting capabilities applied to the characterization of the earth. Short-term synoptic forecasting, small regional scale forecasting, severe weather event warning, climate system analysis and modeling, and improved data and information processing and dissemination have all provided substantial societal benefits–especially in the 1990s. Even greater benefits (related to the pressing need to better understand and protect critical

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
×

earth systems) can be achieved in the first decade of the 2000s, but only if the linkages among research, observation, forecasting, and information processing are adequately managed.

The Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate (BASC) recently completed a major review of the field of atmospheric sciences and published The Atmospheric Sciences Entering the Twenty-First Century (NRC, 1998a). As a follow-on to that effort, BASC identified almost 20 items from the report as potential subjects to examine more closely during the 1999 summer study. BASC selected the transition from research to operations as the first priority for more extensive study.

The federal agencies responsible for research, observing systems, information processing, and operational aspects of weather, climate, and related environmental activities asked BASC to address issues dealing with the transition of research results to the operational provision of services. As a result the following statement of task was developed for the study:

Statement of Task

The BASC will convene a summer study in a workshop format to explore issues related to the transition from research and development to operations in the area of numerical weather prediction. Two case studies will form the nucleus of the effort:

  1. The plans being developed by NOAA's NCEP to incorporate recent advances in atmospheric science research into the next generation of numerical weather prediction models.

  2. The NPOESS Preparatory Program that will be used to transition the satellite sensors developed by NASA into operational capabilities on the NOAA operational weather satellites. Of particular interest are how sensor data are to be used operationally and how such data will be made available to the operational and research communities.

The board will summarize these plans, analyze their strengths and weaknesses, including any major barriers to their successful implementation, and recommend improvements.

Page xiii Cite
Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Particular attention was directed to the ability of the major federal weather and climate prediction center, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), to implement the products of the research community and to the transition of research environmental satellite sensors to operational status. The NCEP readiness question was prompted by several internal government reviews of NCEP's responsibilities and capabilities and the apparent improvement in products and services that was being experienced in other prediction centers. The environmental satellite question was prompted by the 1998 NRC report Global Environmental Change: Research Pathways for the Next Decade (NRC, 1998c). This report recommended that the continued monitoring of climate variables be a specific mission of the operational satellite programs of NOAA, in contrast to the research satellite programs of NASA.

BASC conducted a summer study to review these two issues (see Appendix A), and this report is the result of that study.

In general, BASC was pleased with the health of the research community, but did identify some definite shortcomings in the ability of NCEP to exploit the fruits of the research community. Equally important, limitations at NCEP prevent optimal support to the academic and research communities in the form of data and tailored forecast products necessary to stimulate research. BASC noted that progress was being made in several areas that should lead to improvements. Plans for other short and long-term improvements were also evaluated.

BASC reviewed the progress of planning for the National Polar-Orbiting Operational Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) Preparatory Program (NPP) satellite mission which will assist in the transition of instruments from the NASA Earth Observing System (EOS) satellites to the operational NPOESS. Several BASC members had participated in earlier reviews of the NASA and NOAA plans and were generally pleased at the progress that was being made.

In its deliberations, BASC noted the improvements in the science of weather forecasting that have emerged in recent years and the increasing demand for additional products and services from many different sectors of the nation. BASC hopes that the recommendations in this report will enable the operational forecasting enterprise to meet these growing demands for service to the benefit of society.

Eric Barton and James Mahoney

Co-chairs, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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Suggested Citation:"Front Matter." National Research Council. 2000. From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/9948.
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This workshop report examines the capability of the forecast system to efficiently transfer weather and climate research findings into improved operational forecast capabilities. It looks in particular at the Environmental Modeling Center of the National Weather Service and environmental observational satellite programs. Using these examples, the report identifies several shortcomings in the capability to transition from research to operations. Successful transitions from R&D to operational implementation requires (1) understanding of the importance (and risks) of the transition, (2) development and maintenance of appropriate transition plans, (3) adequate resource provision, and (4) continuous feedback (in both directions) between the R&D and operational activities.

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