Appendix D

U.S. Global Change Research Program

October 14, 1997

Dr. Thomas Karl, Chair

Committee on Climate Research

Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate

National Research Council

2101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20418

Dear Dr. Karl:

This is to follow-up on our several conversations regarding the ''observing and related long-term database" issues. On behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (US/GCRP), particularly DOE, NASA, NOAA, and NSF, we want to share with you and the Committee on Climate Research a growing concern we are observing over the stability of the observing and related long-term database systems upon which nearly all of our current understanding of recent and future climate and global change trends depends. An increasing number of global change and climate researchers seem to be voicing this concern over a perceived deterioration of some of the observing systems. Indeed, several recent reports of the World Meteorological Organization and the National Research Council have noted the need for concern.

It would be useful to the US/GCRP if the Climate Research Committee could conduct a rapid-response study (several months at the most) on this situation, particularly as it relates to observing capabilities and the long-term databases that they produce. To maximize the utility of such a study, we suggest that, if you and your Committee agree to undertake this task, the study should:

1)  

Identify the data from observing systems that are critical to detecting and documenting secular trends and variability in relevant climate parameters;



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--> Appendix D U.S. Global Change Research Program October 14, 1997 Dr. Thomas Karl, Chair Committee on Climate Research Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate National Research Council 2101 Constitution Ave., NW Washington, D.C. 20418 Dear Dr. Karl: This is to follow-up on our several conversations regarding the ''observing and related long-term database" issues. On behalf of the U.S. Global Change Research Program (US/GCRP), particularly DOE, NASA, NOAA, and NSF, we want to share with you and the Committee on Climate Research a growing concern we are observing over the stability of the observing and related long-term database systems upon which nearly all of our current understanding of recent and future climate and global change trends depends. An increasing number of global change and climate researchers seem to be voicing this concern over a perceived deterioration of some of the observing systems. Indeed, several recent reports of the World Meteorological Organization and the National Research Council have noted the need for concern. It would be useful to the US/GCRP if the Climate Research Committee could conduct a rapid-response study (several months at the most) on this situation, particularly as it relates to observing capabilities and the long-term databases that they produce. To maximize the utility of such a study, we suggest that, if you and your Committee agree to undertake this task, the study should: 1)   Identify the data from observing systems that are critical to detecting and documenting secular trends and variability in relevant climate parameters;

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--> 2)   Characterize the current state of health of these systems in terms of capacity to produce data products with sufficient spatial and temporal resolution, and adequate accuracy and precision; 3)   Describe the secular trend in the health of each system over the past decade, and contemplated events that may change that trend over the foreseeable future; 4)   Identify changes in the end-to-end observing system structure including operations, data processing, and data access that diminish its value for documenting climate variability and secular trends; and 5)   Identify data from observing systems that are clearly needed to clarify the potential human contributions to greenhouse gas forced climate change that are not being made by currently or planned operational systems. Because the results of such a study would have their highest utility if they were produced in time to provide information for Congressional considerations during the FY 99 budget process and for the agencies' development of their FY 2000 budget proposals, having a report available by mid-March of next year would be the most helpful. Ideally, the suggested study should be structured in an open manner that would allow the scientific community, members of the communities that utilize operational data, staff members from agencies, and Congressional committees and/or their staff to interact with the NRC scientists and professional staff performing the study. We recognize that, while the Climate Research Committee is well-constituted to undertake the climate portion of such a study, cooperation with other NRC units (CGCR, and the many related committees and boards) would be necessary to plan and perform the study. In the context of the five issues outlined above, we would appreciate the Committee's views on the status and progress of the longer-termed studies under way towards implementing the IGOS (your comments on the six candidate pilot projects would be particularly useful), GCOS, GOOS and GTOS, and the transition of how to get from where we are now to where these developmental international systems may take us in the future. Further, and as you know, the Board on Sustainable Development has long had plans to conduct a comprehensive study of the observing capabilities necessary to support our nation's long-term interests in global change and sustainability issues. Understanding their plans would also be important. Finally, in the context of interagency processes, there are four entities with whom you might wish to connect to determine their current plans: (I) the newly constituted US/GCRP Observing System Working Group (Bob Schiffer at NASA is the liaison for this group) and the US/GCRP interagency data and information management working group (Tom Mace of

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--> EPA chairs this group-His e-mail is: MACE.TOM@EPAMAIL.EPA.GOV), (ii) the CENR Task Force on Observing and Data Management (Bill Townsend at NASA and Bob Winokur at NOAA co-chair this body) and (iii) the Environmental Monitoring Initiative (Jerry Melillo is the best contact for this initiative). They can give you insights as to their current plans within the Federal government. Most importantly, we would be interested in the Committee's recommendations concerning the highest priority measurements from those systems and any other systems (i.e., WWW) that must be sustained over multi-decadal time frames. It is our view that it is critically important to interact with these domestic and international observing capabilities so that your "rapid-response study" connects their plans with the recommendations and directions you offer. So that we maximize the benefits from your efforts, we believe that this proposed study be more narrowly focused on climate observing and related long-term database issues and be conducted in the several months ahead. This approach, in our view, will assist the Federal agencies and the nation in addressing our more immediate climate change and variability observing/data requirements. We would expect that this study should give the US/GCRP and the participating agencies a thoughtful but rapid-response assessment of our nation's current plans for climate observing and related long-term database capabilities that will impact FY 1999 and FY 2000 plans. This letter outlines a daunting task. We suggest that you scope the effort so that a useful product is produced in the available time. We look forward with interest to your response to the above suggestions. It is our understanding that such a study can be done as a priority task within the funding of the present award to the NRC from the US/GCRP. If there is a need to contact us to discuss this suggestion in further detail, please feel free to do so at: 703-306-1500 (NSF Office) or through e-mail at rcorell@nsf.gov. Thank you and our committee for your willingness to consider this matter. Sincerely, (signed) Robert Corell, Chair Subcommittee Global Change Research Committee on Environment and Natural Resources cc: SGCR, William Townsend—NASA, Nancy Maynard—NASA, Robert Winokur—NOAA, Robert Schiffer—NASA, Tom Mace—EPA, Michael MacCracken - Office of the US/GCRP, David Goodrich—NRC