92nd American Meteorological Society Annual Meeting (January 22-26, 2012)

Wednesday, 25 January 2012: 10:45 AM
AMS Summer Community Meeting: Critical Data Gaps and Economic Value of the Enterprise
Room 245 (New Orleans Convention Center )
Betsy Weatherhead, University of Colorado, Boulder, CO; and G. Frederick
Manuscript (504.3 kB)

The public, private and academic sectors involved with providing weather services came together through the American Meteorological Society and its Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise working with all sectors (public, private, and academic) at the 2011 AMS Summer Community Meeting in Boulder, Colorado. Over 200 participants convened to discuss areas of common and pressing interest with a particular focus this year on the critical data needs and the economic value of meteorological services to society. The community recognizes that national and global economies have been reeling in recent times from major setbacks from various causes—not the least of which are those created by weather, water, and climate phenomena, from significant tornado outbreaks, to the fallout from the tsunami that brought devastation to Japan. The entire weather, water, and climate enterprise has much to offer in recovering and building vibrant global economies. At stake are hundreds of billions of dollars in economic productivity, protection of valuable resources and the safety of countless lives. Particular areas of interest included: Economic value of the public and private efforts on weather Meteorological data Transportation Renewable energy with emphasis on offshore wind and solar energy Environmental information services Carbon and greenhouse gas information products Human health Hydrology with emphasis on drought and floods. More detailed information on each of these subjects is attached. This summary provides an overview of the highlights and cross-cutting themes of the meeting, as well as the consensus recommendations from the those convened. The meeting provided insight toward the next steps of coordinated, effective action and cooperation across all sectors of the enterprise to address these issues.

Across sectors, key to the successful use of meteorological information to save lives, protect property, and improve economy is due to providing users with information that is tailored to their needs and allows actions to be taken. To this end, a large number of successful companies are using NOAA's fundamental meteorological data and foundational forecasts to provide tailored forecasts to private users. This close and symbiotic relationship is allowing the most effective and efficient delivery of meteorological information in the world. Key to the success of this important industry is continuation of NOAA's ability to provide foundational forecasts. The growth of these private companies, as well as the success of the individuals and industries that rely on the tailored forecasts requires expanded capabilities to access NOAA's data and weather products to meet the growing demand.

Many of the industries that rely on meteorological information are undergoing transformations that will result in an even stronger reliance on weather information. Automobiles will soon be collecting and sharing a variety of information that can inform others about the safety of road conditions. Increased energy demands and changes to renewable energy will require increasingly precise forecasts within the lowest layers of the atmosphere. Increases in transmittable diseases, as well as skin cancer and asthma, require closer collaboration between health officials and meteorologists to develop effective information for those at risk.

The combined efforts of public, private and academia are successful and extremely efficient for addressing current needs. As societal demands for more accurate, immediate and tailored information increases, the coordinated efforts of the enterprise community is likely to be of even greater valuable. In all likelihood, the transportation, energy and human health demands for meteorological information will grow in the future, as their needs increase and change. The current model of having NOAA provide foundational data and forecasts while letting private companies meet the needs of individuals industries will likely continue to work for most commercial uses of meteorological information. For public health and safety, continued collaboration between government agencies, academia and private companies will likely address the future requirements.

There is considerable concern across a variety of sectors who rely on meteorological forecasts about a potential gap in satellite coverage in the coming years. There is equal concern about the large cost of satellite development, launch and maintenance, as well as any cost over-runs that may occur. The enterprise is prepared to evaluate and prioritize, but such a prioritization will take some time because of the number of sectors that will be affected and the range of options that would need to be examined.

As the economy grows, demands for energy and water will continue. The enterprise is mobilizing to address the future needs, including forecasts relevant to conventional, solar and wind energies, as well as the increasing estimates of future water resource availability. In many cases, this planning is coordinated at a state or federal level, with direct impact to local municipalities. The fundamental research is ongoing to support these needs, with industry and federal governments becoming increasingly involved in requesting new information for both short-term and long-term planning.

The primary message that came clearly through all sessions of this meeting is that the joint efforts of academia, industry and public sectors are working efficiently and effectively to meet the current needs. While many aspects of society are changing, the demand for reliable and available meteorological information will continue to grow. The ability of the enterprise to meet these demands will have a direct impact on the economic health, environmental growth and appropriate environmental stewardship.

More detailed information about the 2011 American Meteorological Society's Summer Community Meeting is available on-line at www.ametsoc.org.

Supplementary URL: http://cires.colorado.edu/science/groups/weatherhead/