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.