Symposium on the Public/Private Sector Partnership


A NOAA Climate Data Public/Private Sector Partnerships: Success Stories and Future Collaboration

Thomas R. Karl, NOAA/NCDC, Asheville, NC

NOAA's National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is the world's largest archive of climate data and provides access to its vast data holdings to all sectors of the Nation's economy. Weather and climate sensitive industries account for about 1/3 of the Nation's Gross Domestic Product. More than 2 million users access climate data each year, downloading several terabytes of data from online archives. Interaction, cooperation, and feedback from users are critical to the success of NOAA in terms of developing products that fulfill user needs. Two examples of NOAA public/private partnerships at NCDC can be highlighted.

Weather derivatives link the commodity futures market and future weather events. They allow companies an option to hedge against the risk of weather fluctuations. For example, an abnormally cold winter will cause increased power consumption and result in a shortage of heating fuel. Since the late 1990s, NCDC has hosted and participated in numerous workshops and public meetings with the Weather Risk Management Association (WRMA) to help implement this new industry. Products available from NOAA websites are used to settle these financial contracts. These products are considered the official source of climate data. WRMA estimates that weather derivatives have now developed into an $8 billion industry.

The North Carolina's Education and Research Consortium has partnered with NOAA's National Weather Service and NCDC to distribute and archive NOAA's NEXRAD Level II radar data. Large volumes of high resolution radar data are now retransmitted to customers as well as to education and research institutions in near real-time. This dramatically increases the availability and widespread use of these data. Partnerships have also been developed with private sector companies who provide value-added products from the Level II data stream. Other providers are encouraged to investigate this opportunity.

Future public/private collaborations will be needed to deliver the data necessary to solve today's multidisciplinary science, societal, and economic issues. For example, the impacts of a rising sea level require data across many data disciplines. Physical impacts such as coastal wave processes will result in increased erosion and inundation. Other associated impacts pertain to biological changes to ecosystems as well as social and economic impacts such as changing population densities, employment changes, and effects on life and property. These data reside largely in separate data management systems so integrating them to address these issues requires seamless linkages. Partnerships can be beneficial and essential in determining and prioritizing the tasks necessary for these efforts.

wrf recording  Recorded presentation

Session 2, Public Sector
Tuesday, 31 January 2006, 8:45 AM-9:45 AM, A404

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