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Climate Data Records: From Environmental Satellites
the difficulties in sustaining the program indefinitely. The task and structures being proposed for NOAA in this report are considerably more complex, costly, and demanding than those currently in place. A high level of commitment and a number of changes at multiple levels within the agency will be needed to institute and fund the various components of CDR stewardship. NOAA will not, however, be the first entity to generate climate-quality data and NOAA can learn many lessons from previous efforts; looking back on historical programs, some commonalities for success include science advisory panels, regular calibration and validation of data, adequate resources for reprocessing, user workshops to solicit advice on the future of the program, clear data storage and dissemination policies, and a willingness to form partnerships. Based on these historical lessons, community surveys, a workshop, and committee expertise, the committee identified 14 key elements for creating a climate data record program based mainly on satellites (Box ES-1). Adherence to these elements would help NOAA to create CDRs that are accepted as community standards, while ensuring that they remain responsive to user needs.
Underlying many of these elements of success is early attention to data stewardship, management, access and dissemination policies, and the actual practices implemented. Because a successful CDR program will ultimately require reprocessing, datasets and information used in their creation, such as metadata, should be preserved indefinitely in formats that promote easy access. The ultimate legacy of long-term CDR programs is the data left to the next generation, and the cost of data management and archiving must be considered as an integral part of every CDR program.
The new emphasis and importance of climate within NOAA’s mission requires an increased focus on partnerships and new approaches as it relates to supporting extramural research. Many agencies and groups are interested and involved in creating, analyzing, and storing CDRs. By partnering with other government agencies, academia, and the private sector in development, analysis, and reprocessing of CDRs, NOAA can create and sustain a successful CDR effort; a high degree of interagency coordination on the requirements, definition, and implementation of CDRs is essential for satisfying the broad user communities of today and providing climate data stewardship for future generations.
OVERARCHING RECOMMENDATION: NOAA should embrace its new mandate to understand climate variability and change by asserting national leadership for satellite-based climate data record generation,