89th American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting

Monday, 12 January 2009
NPOESS economic benefit estimation in a dynamic policy environment
Hall 5 (Phoenix Convention Center)
Irving Leveson, Leveson Consulting, Jackson, NJ
Poster PDF (66.6 kB)
The cutbacks and debate over how much farther to go with restoration of demanifested sensors originally planned for the National Polar Orbiting Environmental Satellite System (NPOESS) makes understanding of the nature and value of benefits of the program and components essential. Decisions rest on priorities given to continuity of weather records, the importance of new climate records, technical issues and economic considerations. This study develops estimates of overall program benefits and begins to assess the economic implications of changes in configuration to inform professionals in the tri-agency NPOESS Integrated Program Office and other decision-makers.

Benefits are estimated both before the “Nunn-McCurdy” cutbacks and after the recent partial restoration of capabilities. Benefits are broadly defined to include those to the civilian economy and society. They include both economic benefits and non-economic benefits, such as those to life, health, safety and the environment.

The core consideration is weather related benefits. Calculations from a national econometric model of effects of weather on the economy by Harrod et. al. are adapted to obtain an estimate of the value of weather effects that largely reflects impacts on businesses and governments. Part of the effect of adverse weather and short term climate change is assumed to be reduced by the availability of forecasts, warnings and information to obtain a value of weather information to these sectors. The results are combined with values based on a study of households' “willingness to pay” for weather services by Lazo and Chestnut to derive a more complete estimate of the benefits of weather information. A portion of the combined gain is then attributed to NPOESS to remove the contributions of other satellites, other measurement platforms and the myriad activities of the weather enterprise. Adjustment is made for underestimation and unmeasured economic and environmental impacts. Possible benefits associated with climate change are discussed and illustrative calculations are made, drawing on recent economic studies.

Values of benefits with various levels of further restoration that might result from the July 2008 National Research Council (NRC) study are indicated. Issues raised by the NRC study will be noted. In addition, progress will be reported on a pilot effort expected to be under way to consider means of comparing program alternatives using a consensus based on values instead of rankings.

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