Tuesday, 11 January 2005
Climate Data Records from US environmental satellites
At the dawn of the 21st century, NOAA’s mission includes a bold new mandate to “understand climate variability and change to enhance society’s ability to plan and respond.” Given the inherent complexity of climate, reliable and stable long-term observations are needed to describe and potentially predict climate. This naturally encompasses a global view and highlights the importance of using satellite data. NOAA is therefore planning to rely heavily on satellite measurements to create the long-term, reliable, and stable climate data records (CDRs) needed to understand and potentially predict climate. However, great care must be taken to ensure that the CDRs based on satellite observations have the necessary stability and consistency to distinguish between artificial changes related to the observing system and real changes in climate. Developing a successful satellite CDR generation program poses many challenges owing to the varied uses of climate data, the complexities of data generation and storage, and the difficulties in sustaining the program indefinitely. In order to generate the best possible plan for creating satellite CDRs, NOAA asked the National Academies to conduct a two-phase study to provide advice on creating CDRs. In this first phase, the committee is providing a report that provides NOAA with advice on the key elements of a satellite-based CDR program, including lessons learned from previous attempts; considerations for identifying an appropriate organizational framework for long-term success and sustainability; suggested steps for generating and archiving CDRs; and the importance of partnerships. This presentation highlights the key findings of the committee and addresses the important recommendations that will help ensure that NOAA designs a plan to guide satellite CDR generation from existing and new satellites for understanding, monitoring, and predicting climate variations and changes.