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Readiness for the Upcoming Solar Maximum
space weather forecasts to the civilian sector. It is also the agency responsible for improving the existing operational space weather monitoring and forecasting system.
Although NOAA has made significant advances in the real-time acquisition of important geophysical data for the identification and short-term prediction of space weather disturbances, the agency has not been able to apply these data for use in a modern space environment service. In particular, adequate manpower and computational resources are not available for the translation of modern data-based or theoretical research models to improved monitoring and forecasting tools. The lack of commitment at NOAA to this unique and critical role will have a fundamental impact on the success of the NSWP. As the need for improved space environment information increases with the approach to solar maximum, this unfilled gap will become increasingly apparent. NOAA has national and international responsibility for archiving and disseminating globally acquired space environment and geophysical databases. As such, it must perform some measure of certification on the quality of the data and disseminate these data to requestors quickly.
The committees recommend that NOAA, through its Space Environment Center, develop and execute a plan to fulfill its responsibilities within the National Space Weather Program during the coming period of enhanced demand for space environment forecasting services.
The committees also recommend that NOAA ensure the certification and prompt dissemination of space environment and geophysical databases through its National Geophysical Data Center.
NATIONAL SCIENCE FOUNDATION
NSF Roles and Responsibilities
NSF is the country's primary non-mission-oriented agency supporting fundamental scientific research. As part of NSF's ongoing activity, it has a leading role in fostering the basic research and ground-based facilities related to Sun-Earth interactions. This support includes both major national facilities and individual investigator programs. The research program is funded and coordinated primarily by the Upper Atmosphere Research Section of the Geosciences Directorate. NSF-supported facilities that contribute to the Sun-Earth Connections science efforts include the High Altitude Observatory, the National Solar Observatory, the GONG Helioseismological Observatories, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (responsible for middle-atmosphere research programs), and several radar installations and magnetometer networks around the world.
Assessment of NSF Activities for Solar Maximum
NSF's capability to exploit scientific targets of opportunity quickly was illustrated recently in the agency's rapid response to the plunge of comet Shoemaker-Levy 9 into Jupiter's atmosphere. The agency has currently defined a series of ongoing and new initiatives poised to use the opportunity presented by the upcoming solar maximum. NSF is also one of the initiating, lead agencies for the NSWP, and to date it has committed most of the new resources specifically designated for this interagency initiative. NSF's participation in the NSWP is a key component of its activities related to the new solar maximum.