NRC Worried About Gaps in Global Change Satellite Data-UPDATE

NRC Worried About Gaps in Global Change Satellite Data-UPDATE

UPDATE:  The American Meteorological Society will hold a Town Hall meeting about the USGCRP draft strategic plan at its 2012 annual meeting in New Orleans, LA.   That Town Hall meeting is Tuesday, January 24, at 12:15 pm local time.

ORIGINAL STORY:  A new National Research Council (NRC) report reviewing the draft strategic plan for the U.S. Global Change Research Program (USGCRP) expresses concern about potential gaps in satellite observations needed for weather forecasting and climate records.

According to the NRC study, A Review of the U.S. Global Change Research Program’s Draft Strategic Plan, Goal 2 of that plan addresses the observations, modeling and data management needed for the next 10 years of the program.  The USGCRP coordinates observational and research efforts related to global change, especially climate change, across the federal government.

While the plan “acknowledges” the need for satellite observations that are “sustained in the coming decades,” the NRC committee concluded that it did not provide strategies for fulfilling that requirement.  The NRC’s 2007 Decadal Survey on Earth Science and Applications from Space made recommendations for NASA and NOAA missions, but achieving those goals has been delayed because “the costs of some have missions have grown, in some cases dramatically” and two satellites — the Orbiting Carbon Observatory and GLORY — were lost in launch failures, and by budget constraints, says the report.  Delays in NOAA’s Joint Polar Satellite System (JPSS) are a further problem, it said.

Consequently, “the Nation is at risk of having serious gaps in observational capability, both for operational forecasting missions and for key climate records.”  The NRC called for “an appropriate governance structure and clear mechanisms for assuring that long-term satellite-based observing systems are developed and sustained in a manner suitable for meeting the [USGCRP’s] key science objectives.”

Fostering international relationships also is critical, it added — “as important as [USGCRP’s] efforts to foster the growth of U.S.-led observations.”

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