Commission Comments

Commission Comments on establishing a U.S. Weather Commission

Commission comments Background

On October 31, 2012, Dr.Thomas Bogdan, President of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research, wrote an open letter to the weather enterprise community about the concept of a U.S. Weather Commission.  In that letter, he invited members from the public, private and academic sectors to submit their comments, opinions and guidance about this proposed idea.  The comment period lasted from October 31, 2012 through March 3, 2013.  Below are the comments.


Dear colleagues,

In reading the wide array of comments offered thus far regarding a weather commission, I’m struck by the extent to which such a highly complex and important issue is being thoughtfully and collegially debated by an incredibly diverse community!  For that, we owe a debt of gratitude to those who organized and continue to steward this discussion, and to everyone who has participated in this important debate.

Our community indeed is notably diverse and complex, but also enjoys extraordinary support and value recognition by the public, and on both sides of the aisle in Washington.  Yet, as one commenter wrote, we face extraordinary challenges in setting priorities, articulating and advocating for them, and quickly dealing with issues as they arise.  It has been suggested that a weather commission, properly framed and led, is a possible mechanism for dealing with these challenges.  And indeed, the idea is not without merit for the many reasons others have discussed.

However, it also has been noted that we live in different times and that a new approach for addressing pressing challenges is needed.  I agree, and would offer that a weather commission – while perhaps viable a decade ago – is a solution not consistent with the times in which we live, regardless of who might lead it, for the following reasons:

  • First, irrespective of how they are chartered, many commissions have been created for the explicit purpose of, and are viewed by many in Washington as mechanisms for, delaying important decisions, even those of a highly strategic nature.  I think we can all agree that “kicking the can down the road” is generally the rule under which our government presently operates, and I see a weather commission as being no different.  Indeed, perhaps the best strategy for delaying important actions, especially those of a highly strategic nature, is to create a commission. 
  • Second, and much more importantly, even if a commission were to put forth sensible recommendations agreed to by our community, their implementation would be anything but guaranteed because, as we’ve seen many times in the recent past, decisions are driven not by priority and logic but rather by political expediency, often at the 11th hour with insufficient thought.  And when decisions are in fact made, the understanding of them frequently comes during the implementation process.  Our work is far too important for such uncertainty to rule.
  • Third, my experience is that if you wish to offer advice in Washington, it needs a hungry recipient.  The identity of that organization or group in the case of a weather commission is unclear, even if it were the Congress.  And then the second item above still rears its head.
  • And finally, others have argued that with a commission, we cede our future to appointees for whom we have no choice or over whom we have no control.  Although I don’t necessarily disagree, I believe a much more important point to be made is that by creating a commission, we say with a loud voice:  “We are sufficiently fragmented and unorganized as a community, and thus unable to come together on our own, work together on our own, and be of one voice in addressing issues that determine our future.”  I firmly reject that notion, and indeed the very proof for that stance is found in the wonderful way our community has come together to engage in the present conversation.  Yes, we need to move beyond discussion toward real answers, but I believe we can.  We are not a weak community that needs to be led.  We are a strong community that can lead itself. 

With that preface, I suggest we focus our discussion on creating our own “commission” of sorts which, to avoid confusion, is hereafter called “WeatherNext” (not a good name, I realize!).  WeatherNext could consist of the presidents/heads of AMS, AGU, UCAR, NWA, AWCIA, NWC, and other organizations public and private, interfacing appropriately/as allowed with Federal leaders within agencies and laboratories as well as OSTP, OMB, NSTC, and the Congress.  Its purpose would be to establish a true strategic agenda, with tactical goals as well, in the areas of weather and water across the domains of science, operations, and service/product provision.   Focusing its initial work around Weather Ready Nation makes a great deal of sense, particularly as this effort has the support of NOAA and the Congress.

The voice of WeatherNext would be substantial, underpinned by the stature and strong engagement of its participants, its ability to understand and craft thoughtful, meaningful pathways to difficult challenges, the breadth of the assistance upon which it could draw in a highly coordinated manner, and its ability to articulate and, perhaps most importantly, advocate for its consensus agenda.  Might it be led by a wise and influential individual outside our community, such as Norm Augustine (see Neal Lane’s comments about the structure and effectiveness of commissions)?  We should not dismiss that possibility!! 

If done correctly, WeatherNext will bring important advice to, and result in new relationships with, our Nation’s leaders; produce tangible results that we all agree are needed; and lead to very important benefits for society that reflect our deep commitment to the work we do.

 

The looming sequester and the continuing D.C. federal budget/political Kabuki dance, illuminates even more the need for all of us concerned about the continued strength of the “Weather Enterprise” (probably not best wording but all we have) in the U.S. to become as proactive as we can.  Waiting to see how this “plays out” and then being reactive is more likely to lead to a death spiral with so many current “partners” clawing each other over what we know are certain to be decreasing public/government funding for the core needs critical for the current and future service of our weather and climate services.  The creation of a U.S. Weather Commission may not be the perfect or only vehicle that will give us a say in our future, but I believe with all the smoke signals, and current and looming events we have little time to waste in supporting something where we at least have a voice from the beginning.  I agree with many of Dr. Rood’s comments and having served on two recent NRC reports (Fair Weather and Completing the Forecast. . .”  know the inertia of that large organizations in moving from recommendation to action.  What is key this time is we know there is indeed fragmentation and I believe duplication of effort within the “Enterprise: and we sure cannot have any recommendation that asks for more money.  In fact I believe one of the top givens or goals, preamble, whatever of a U.S. Weather Commission (or any other advisory group representing the Enterprise) is that it is possible to have our shared sciences and service operate much more efficiently and "we" feel we can cut public/federal funding that is the core of weather climate service to the U.S. and world by XX%.  Pick a number.  I think a reduction of 30% is possible . . .and have even greater service in the future.

 

What if we were starting this journey and watching the great advances of our sciences from near the modern beginning?  What goals would we set?  What would our “vision” for the organization/enterprise?  What if we were able to gather the Charneys, the Wexlers, the Suomis, the Simpsons, the Thompsons, the Battans and Atlases and yes the Whites and so many others?  Knowing what we know now, what would the great architects drawn up as an efficient weather climate organization that could maximize the benefit for the public, the economy, the world, but ensure that we’re working as efficiently as possible?  Bureaucratic growth does not necessarily mean more efficient growth.  We have an opportunity and I would say responsibility to take this time to proactively help determine our shared future, not reactively try to plug holes in the leaky dike we now see before us.  The challenge we face really came clearer when I watched this recent report on the PBS News Hour and interview with Dr. Francis Collins the director of NIH.

http://www.pbs.org/newshour/bb/health/jan-june13/medical_02-20.html

 

A couple relevant questions/responses.  Sound familiar?   The time for us as a community to act is now.  Creation of a U.S. Weather Commission (we can indeed be at the creation) I believe is in all of our interests.

 

RAY SUAREZ: Well, whether that happens or not, the sequester, does it usher in a new spirit? When you talk to members of Congress about your future appropriations, are you under more scrutiny, under more skeptical scrutiny, than you were before?

FRANCIS COLLINS: Well, it's a difficult time in our country. I get that. The fiscal situation is, clearly, very serious, and so it wouldn't be responsible of Congress to simply give dollars to anything without asking, are we getting something in return?

But the evidence for medical research is overwhelming, both in terms of advances in health, things like deaths from heart attack down by 60 percent, from stroke by 70 percent. Survival with HIV-AIDS is now almost the normal lifespan. All of those things come out of NIH research. But you can look now to see what's being supported by our rigorous peer-review process and see also that we're doing the best science in the world.

And you can also say, OK, is it helping the economy? Because we're worried about that. Answer, absolutely yes. You heard the president quote the statistic about the Genome Project, that every dollar returned $140 dollars in terms of economic growth in the first few years after the project was completed. That's a pretty darn good return on the government's investment.

 

   The two posted comments of Dr. Richard Rood are particularly germane to the future of the "enterprise" in general and ongoing "commission" discussions in particular. 

   A highlight from the second paragraph of Dr. Rood's post of Nov. 29, 2012: ...we set up barriers by drawing programmatic boundaries between research and operations.  We find it prestigious to fund research but we find it routine and uninteresting to fund the infrastructure for data systems, production computing centers, and software..."

  Further, a highlight from the sixth paragraph of his post of Feb. 1, 2013:  "We must cease to perpetuate the destructive and unnecessary divide between 'research' and 'operations' -- a divide maintained by our funding models and many advisory panels."

   The pervasive problem of fragmentation is well described in Dr. Rood's complete posts and, however challenging, is the primaty problem needing to be addressed sooner rather than later.  Synthesis is a keyword for what is required.  Otherwise, the current inefficiency of the status quo will continue or worsen.

I really like where this discussion is headed.  One way to further the discussion is by adding water to the commission.  The NAS Second to None report not only emphasized high performance computing but also modernizing our Nation's hydrologic predictive capabilities.  Water is one of our most precious resources and climate change will allow aggravate the war on water.  Add water to this conversation and you just might have the right formula for building a Weather Ready Nation.

For those interested in learning more about the various kinds of commissions Congress has created over the years including their scope, how they they were established, how the members were appointed, etc., this link to a Congressional Research Service report may be helpful:  http://www.fas.org/sgp/crs/misc/R40076.pdf 

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I attended the January 2013, Weather Commission Town Hall at the American Meteorological Society (AMS) Meeting in Austin, Texas.  What struck me about panel discussion and the audience comments was the skepticism about a potential commission, and specifically, the concern that such a commission could make things worse, not better. 

In my previous entry in this discussion, November 29 2012, I stated that the Commission could serve an important role if it helped to address the fragmentation that permeates the U.S. approach to weather research and operations.  My experience has been that, historically, many advisory panels and commissions contribute to and grow this fragmentation.  This is because even if the commission delivers a cohesive and convergent vision of what needs to be done, it falls into a legislative, executive, and agency environment that picks the recommendations to either protect or to grow their specific interests.  So a fundamental question would be how to frame the scope of any new to commission to have what is ultimately a positive outcome.

 

The skepticism expressed at the AMS Meeting is deeply rooted in experience. A commission could emerge as simply advocating for money to support satellites.  Alternatively, a commission could return the oft-repeated recommendation that “the problem” with our weather enterprise is that we don’t migrate our research effectively to operations.  The current discussions include a focus on the public-private interface.   This is messy and sometimes ruthless interface. If I were a government manager responsible for delivery of U.S. weather forecasts, I would view activities at this interface as most likely to increase the risks to my ability to deliver my products.

 

Here is a concrete example.  I was responsible for computational resources to support routine delivery of forecast-assimilation products to support NASA’s aircraft and space missions.  Vendors for the computing hardware companies worked the political environment in such a way as to, de facto, earmark dollars that would provide to my organization specific pieces of hardware – let’s say a supercomputer. If this happened, then dollars would be removed from my budget.  I would, therefore, have a supercomputer, with no budget to run it correctly, and perhaps that was incompatible with the software and data subsystem of my forecast-assimilation system.  As a manager I found this situation untenable.  As a manager, I knew the balance of expenditures and investments that I needed to make to provide a science-validated product.  However, it was difficult to maintain this balance in the presence of a whole portfolio of external interests that could often, through budget, reach deep into my organization.  Therefore, if a weather commission were to go forward, then its formative charter and mission need to be defined cognizant of the entire portfolio of the expenditures, investments, and relationships that are needed to provide robust weather and environmental products.  This is not simply a matter of advocating for more money.  More money can, in fact, make things worse.

 

We have been developing a crisis in weather forecasting for more than a decade.  This has had a recent flurry of discussion because ECMWF provide better multi-day forecasts of Hurricane Sandy that the U.S. modeling centers.  Back as far as 1995, we could see ECMWF forecasts emerging as higher quality and more robust than U.S. products.  This emerging gap was attributed to budget, visitors programs, lack of operational mission, computers, etc.  However, the fundamental issue is that ECMWF is a mission-focused organization that has integrated research and operations together with organizational attention to science-based, validated products. They can focus on absorbing research and data, much of which is from the U.S., into their system for the benefit of their products.  They can focus their in-house research on the glue that is needed to produce excellent, science-based products.  They have ownership of their budget and can direct that budget to accomplish their mission. They have an internalized incentive structure that focuses their people’s efforts on their products.  They know to invest in software and to spend on computers.  They know how to satisfy their customers.  They have benefitted from stability, strong management, and focused leadership.

 

Advisory panels, commissions, and, increasingly, pundits offer advice to U.S. weather-science agencies: buy computers, start visitors programs, engage the community, get more advise, etc.  It used to be stated that a goal at NASA and NOAA should be to “stop the fly-over-Washington syndrome” (to Reading).  These well-intentioned recommendations not only are patches, but any incremental benefit in the short-term comes at increased long-term costs of ignoring the underlying, systemic causes of the problems.  So a required success of a weather commission would be to enable the managers of U.S. modeling and data activities to work coherently, with focus, with stability, with balanced investments and expenditures to develop validated, science-based products. We have been bootstrapping solutions for more than a decade – an unsustainable approach.  We must cease to perpetuate the destructive and unnecessary divide between “research” and “operations”  - a divide that this maintained by our funding models and many advisory panels.   We must find a way to reduce the divisive and destructive competition that places agencies, laboratories in agencies, and divisions in laboratories in hostile relationships – hostility that is perpetuated because it has emerged as the strategy that works.

 

What I describe in the previous paragraph is a high bar for any commission: a stable, balanced, scientific organization to provide validated, standardized weather products. It is a vision that requires sustained disciplined focus that is alien to our practice of science. If achieved, then this can greatly benefit the public.  If achieved, then this can greatly benefit the public-private partnership. If, on the other hand, we continue to perpetuate the fragmented, unstable, ad hoc, approach to this problem, then natural selection will be unkind to essential weather capabilities in the U.S. and abroad.  This high bar for what a commission needs to achieve requires a high bar for the clout of the commission, which requires trust at a level that the town hall meetings suggests is far away.

 

U.S. Weather Commission Panel Talk – AMS Town Hall

January 7, 2013

Barry Lee Myers, CEO, AccuWeather, Inc.

-----------------------------------------------

We are here today to talk about an idea that originated primarily from UCAR and leaders of The Weather Coalition.

It has seemed an idea very “research community centric.”

It has seemed to many, to be a solution in search of a problem.

I am here with an open mind, but with compelling questions.

So I ask:

. . . what strategic objective is the community trying to achieve, and then,

 what method or vehicle is best to achieve that.

Some suggested the idea was sparked by something I said, not too long ago:

that in an era of fiscal challenge, if we as a community, do not come together, and advocate where resources need to go, others will.

I did say that and I believe it.

A weather commission, appointed by others, such as the Congress and the President, at any time, but especially at a time of political discord in the nation’s body politic, concerns me.

Many in this room have worked for years, if not decades, to achieve a successful cooperative environment.

Is the surrendering of advocacy for the weather community, to yet another group, who may have less understanding about what is needed than the groups we now work to influence, a good idea?

Some have said a Weather Commission would draw attention to the needs of the community. 

Perhaps.

But what would the commission be charged with and by whom.

The originators of the idea, mostly the academic and research view, see one emphasis,

I can tell you the weather industry sees another.

The commission may see a third.

Much progress has been made, do we want to advocate for a situation we cannot control.

Advocates have said a primary goal would be “Do No Harm.”  I agree with that goal. 

But I see no path that can ensure that outcome.

And a process that could cost millions and last for years - misses the urgency of now.

The budget and legislative process may be messy;

Is it rendered less so and more productive through the appointment of a commission. 

Would the NCEP computers AccuWeather and others pushed Congress to fund have been aided by a weather commission? 

Would the budget anomaly for the continuation of the satellite program attained a few months ago, been aided by a weather commission. 

I have no way of knowing.

What I do know, from my 30 plus years of working the Halls of Congress and the White House, working on getting much of the relevant legislation and policies and  processes that underpin the freedom of weather data today and many other weather related policies we take for granted, is that this is a high risk, high stake game.

Advocates of a weather commission have boldly asserted what the weather commission will do,

But as Tom Bogdan and others have correctly pointed out, we will not control that.

I think we all want to understand the issues the initiators feel, need to be addressed, and how a weather commission would support the Weather Enterprise as a whole. 

While a congressionally-chartered Weather Commission may be an approach,

 . . . there is no certainty regarding a Commission's charge, timing, makeup, and outcomes.

This makes it difficult, at this time, or any time, to judge it's merit. 

The American Weather Industry always supports initiatives whose strategic purpose fits within five primary tenants, which I can quickly summarize:

1.    To empower and facilitate the American weather enterprise to achieve its full potential

2.    To define the value chain of all parts of the American weather enterprise to ensure the American public is served with the best possible information employing the most cost efficient combination of private and public institutions.

3.    To place special focus on NOAA/NWS role as the builder of the nation’s core weather infrastructure, public warnings for events that pose imminent threat to life and property, and working with America’s Weather Industry, to achieve world-wide leadership in weather and weather media.

4.    To focus federal support to ensure a legislative and budgetary agenda which makes maximum and optimum use of all parts, public and private, of the American weather enterprise.

5.    And to encourage the execution of the aligned missions and roles through public and private partnerships. 

Those are goals the American Weather Industry has advanced and supported for decades. 

They are beneficial to the entire weather enterprise and the nation.

Those are worthy strategic objectives. 

The big question is, where does a weather commission idea fit with these strategic objectives, and how does it advance the ball relative to them and the weather enterprise as a whole.

END

I understand, respect and agree with the concern that the weather commission could, based largely on the members chosen as political appointees, make recommendations that would not be supported by the majority of the weather enterprise.  And yet, there is a need for leadership and higher visibility of the weather community's roles and requirements.  I'd like to see the weather enterprise benefit from the weather commission and believe this will best be achieved by charging the weather commission with delivering messages that have been developed by the weather enterprise--perhaps through activities developed within AMS, NAS or UCAR.  The weather commission should not be free to develop their own unique messages, but serve as responsible messengers of the community's evolving statements and requirements.  This may make the position of being a weather commissioner less attractive to some, but for some, but will assure that naive solutions to the weather community's challenges will not cause more harm than good.

Enjoyed the discussion at the recent AMS Annual Meeting on this topic and getting to learn more about the effort.  In response to that discussion, Berrian Moore had a comment which I concur with, in that the group should have a distinct focus in order to increase the unity of the group's message and the chances of success for that message.  He had suggested a focus of a Weather Ready Nation.  I would think the message we want to send in these economic times and Congressional debates is a different one.  I would like to see the focus be on the economic benefit of all the efforts to the nation, the power of the coalition is the power of jobs to the economy and dollars saved by investing in the infrastructure and research and operations of the coalition.  This is a message we can all get behind and will resonate clearly with the Congressional bodies we might engage. 

I want to thank Tom Bogdan's and the Weather Coalition's leadership on this issue.First, I want to point out that there is an Office of the Federal Coordinator For Meteorology which is likely to be distinct from the proposed Weather Commission, because the OFCM coordinates only federal activities. It would help me to clarify how the Weather Commission will be chartered and whether it will be an independent body or associated with a government agency. (I apologize if the answer to my question is obvious to most readers). Second, I propose consideration of space weather as included in the Commission. The space weather enterprise is in its infancy, but is growing. A space weather research program was recently proposed by the NRC Decadal Strategy for Solar and Space Physics.Thank you.

 

As chair of a recent (2012) NRC report on 'A National Strategy for Advancing Climate Models' I have become increasingly convinced that we need to actively nurture the links between weather forecasting and climate models, following the UKMO example of trying to use one modeling system for both.  This has the potential to reduce systematic errors in week to several week deterministic weather forecasts, reduce uncertainties in the fast physics of climate models, and allow the effective assimilation of more data types (e. g. clouds, soil moisture) for both weather and climate applications.  Let's be sure a weather commission strongly promotes weather-climate research links across govt. labs, academia and the private sector.

I had favored a wx commission at first hearing, but
have more reservations upon discussion with a diversity
of folks.

1) Stating the obvious: One would want the commission
to be truly productive and to lead to improvements in,
at least, America's public weather services
and, perhaps, its private weather industry. A commission that
comsumes public resources on
meetings, study, reports, etc., without
real, tangible improvements would be a failure, would turn off
the public and legislators, and would likely impede future
public funding for important wx efforts.

2) As noted elsewhere, a problem for the WC is that
its charge of "weather" encompasses so much: the multiplicity of
interest groups seeking to get some benefit
(e.g., a recommemndation) by the committee may yield an
impossibly-broad list of things
to address. Trying to prioritize among these may then lead to
fighting among the parochial interests. A way to reduce
this threat might be to limit the scope of the comm's purview,
but that may be self-defeating.

3) A WC could recognize at a high level
some important issues in American NWP capabilities.
Two that come to mind are the relative quality of
operational/public forecasting tools and the need
to continue to develop/improve
models for research and operational purposes.
A Wx Comm could conclude that a goal should be to bring the
US operational model performance up
from second-class status vis-a-vis the ECMWF and UKMO.
Related to this, another goal could be to bolster existing, ongoing
R&D efforts in NWP to target the current deficiencies
or needs in NWP systems.

Two areas of development that could benefit operational and research NWP
are: (i) coupled atmosphere-ocean modeling systems and
(ii) the improvement of model physics. The latter
would entail advancing our basic understanding
of physical processes and then translating that into
improved model schemes (e.g., PBL, microphysics).
Another emerging need is the development of scale-aware
physics packages. The modeling community is
recognizing the need for model physics to
adapt across varying resolutions and scales.

4) Comments posted that note the potential problems
of bureaucratic or regulatory outcomes
from a government commission are well-taken.
These things always start out with good intentions.
Commissions dubbed as "blue ribbon" may
become vehicles for agendas.
With membership of the annointed, the commission's
recommendations are a priori accorded deference. The con job of some
blue ribbon panels is that they can simply be a way to
stack the deck for discussion/decision on a given topic.

Other questions arise. Is the commission really answerable
to anyone? Also, how can individuals, institutions, or businesses argue
(while being given the same level of deference) against what the
commission might suggest? Should we not be wary of an unelected,
appointed body whose mission is to impact policy and
spending in the area of our livelihoods?

I am a recent graduate of the University of Colorado at Boulder (MS 2009 Atmospheric and Oceanic Sciences). I use atmospheric and ocean models to simulate storm surge. Hurricane-driven storm surge caused 6,000 to 10,000 fatalities in Galveston 1900 [1], 1,500 fatalities in New Orleans 2005 [2], and caused a huge amount of damage in New York and New Jersey this past fall during Hurricane Sandy (2012).

Storm surge is caused by the interaction between the atmosphere and the ocean. Since this phenomenon falls between two disciplines - atmospheric science and oceanography - storm surge tends to be neglected by agencies that focus on a specific component of the earth system. By taking a broader view of hurricanes and their effects on American society, a Weather Commission could ensure that our extensive coastlines would be made safer by scientifically informed urban planning and more accurate forecasting systems. The Commission would play a high-level coordinating role in research and deployment.

I am in favor of the formation of a U.S. Weather Commission.

1. Larson Erik (1999) Isaac's Storm: A Man, a Time, and the Deadliest Hurricane in History. Vintage Books, New York, NY, USA, 323pp, page (p. 264-265).

2. Knabb Richard D, Rhome Jamie R, Brown Daniel P (2005) Tropical Cyclone Report: Hurricane Katrina, 23-30 August 2005. National Hurricane Center, Miami, FL, USA. Available at: http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/pdf/TCR-AL122005_Katrina.pdf. Accessed: 28 August 2012.

There is no doubt that the weather enterprise is extremely valuable and yet under appreciated.  And it could be so much better.  As noted by others, many aspects are fragmented and coordination is not all it could be.

The term ‘weather” is meant in its broadest sense and it has immediate meaning for the public.  Yet the weather today is different than the weather 20 years ago because the environment in which it occurs is different owing to climate change.  Unfortunately “climate” has become a word to be avoided in Washington: a disgraceful situation.  So here we will talk about changing weather conditions, derechos, super storms, and drought instead.  All aspects must be included, and much that we once thought of as atmospheric phenomena are now known to be coupled and dependent on the ocean or the land surface.  So an integrated approach is overdue.

So what can a weather commission achieve?  What does it actually do?  Yes there can be good outcomes and useful recommendations that Congress might act upon.  But there is also a risk that it could go astray and cause real damage.  To me this means that the community should be weighing in on issues that the commission should address.  There does need to be some foci.  These should not be advocacy positions but rather posed as questions.  Some examples might be:

How should the federal agency structure of NOAA, currently in the Department of Commerce, and USGS, currently in department of Interior, be more optimally configured to integrate approaches to changing water resources?

How can the federal institutions better interact with university and other researchers to enable technology transfer from research into operations?

How can we get good management into the federal government when Congress micromanages budgets and refuses to let managers manage?

Tom Bogdan asks “what are the major questions a commission should address?”  How about adding to the list?

The National Weather Association (NWA) is an association of approximately 3000 members whose vision is to promote excellence in operational meteorology to benefit society.  Our mission statement is "Connecting operational meteorologists in pursuit of excellence in weather forecasting, communication, and service."   Operational meteorology is basically the segment of our profession which actually delivers services to people and professional clients.  NWA membership is drawn from all segments of the profession of meteorology. 

The NWA supports the formation of this commission and would be eager to participate in it.  The fiscal realities facing all of the country dictates that we must approach challenges and decisions in our profession differently.  As such, the goals for the commission must be clearly and carefully crafted to reflect the new reality before proceeding.

Stephen W. Harned CCM

Executive Director, National Weather Association

I am writing on behalf of The American Geophysical Union and our 60,000 members to express my support for creating a U.S. Weather Commission to ensure cost-effective spending on the nation’s weather systems while minimizing the impacts of major storms and normal weather fluctuations. 

Superstorm Sandy is just the most recent in a long line of weather events that have cost our nation billions of dollars. With the current economic situation tightening budgets across the government, and the increasing impacts of a changing climate, it is more important than ever that the U.S. has a commission of experts to provide guidance to policymakers to help protect lives, property, and businesses from damaging weather events. 

A 2012 report by the National Research Council, Weather Services for the Nation: Becoming Second to None, states that our nation needs to improve its ability to harness the best science and private sector resources available to protect us from weather impacts. A U.S. Weather Commission would provide critical and timely advice on how to keep abreast of the latest technology and user needs, including industry and military, and inform policymakers about options to lower costs and minimize losses. 

For the sake of our citizens, our economy, and the advancement of science, AGU supports creating a U.S. Weather Commission to keep our economy competitive and provide maximum protection of lives and property in our nation. 

Christine W. McEntee

Executive Director/CEO, American Geophysical Union

 

The formation of a Weather Commission would be great idea if we can harness the intellectual capital and innvovativess of our Weather (and Climate) Enterprise, move beyond a precoccupation with the unique public, private and academic sectors, and focus rather on finding ways to provide value to our customers (e.g., decision makers, the public, students) via  "unified" forecasts/products/services.  We can't afford to provide numerous possible solutions to our clients to let them figure out which one is best, but rather provide value through better understanding of each other's strengths, engagement, and relationship building on a scientific, technical, innovative and personal basis, which lead to a comprehensive product/service/forecast which takes into account the whole of what our enterprise has to offer and not the parts.

 

We do not need more administration in our industry. By construct, this would have to be a large entity. We need better communication within the existing framework. If this is formed, the AMS is irrelevant and possibly also the NWA.

If such a commission could represent a consensus opinion and could lobby with a unified voice, I think that would be helpful.  I would hope and trust that the commission would respect the general roles that have evolved over the last few decades, whereby the collection of observations, the data assimilation, the generation of a core set of numerical guidance, a basic set of post-processing, and the dissemination of general forecasts and warnings for hazardous weather are handled by NOAA, and the generation of value-added products for specific customers is handled by the private sector.

As Ronald Reagan is quoted as saying, "Government is not the solution to the problem, it is the problem".  The less government, the better.  Do not add another layer.  Privatize as much as possible and reward people for good forecasts and results. Get rid of agencies that don't produce good results.  Why do we need so many different groups getting funding for super computers and running their own models.  Fund the group that gets the best results.

 

I only became aware of this today, but wanted to comment even if after the deadline.

A national Weather Commission might be a good idea. But many on this forum have mentioned various dangers, ranging from bureaucratic paralysis to more centralized government. We face, arguably, the most difficult problems of our 236 year history- with sharp division racing hopelessly into debt. While I can’t speak for other segments of our society, I believe the weather enterprise needs a Weather Initiative, something bigger than Weather Nation. Our general sustainability may be in question, but bold dreams can congeal opposing members on a team. We would need a brilliant Chair who had the natural ability to envision a courageous plan for the future, coupling the public sector, private sector and academia.

There needs to be 4 or 5 major goals to the vision that could be reasonably achieved without massive spending. 50 years after President Kennedy challenged America into the Space Age, this Weather Initiative would be a contest of creativity. Only a dynamic leader (meteorologist or not) with a compelling strategy might be able to do it. Otherwise, this exercise will be fruitless. But judging from the mental gene pool of imaginative Americans like Franklin and Jefferson, those individuals are among us. After all, the US created the weather enterprise. It can do it again, if we want to win. That is the real question.    Miles Muzio..

I am not in favor of more centralized US government.  The US Weather Commission proposed will continue to centralize weather products and attempt to control and regulate based on central governance which is too powerful and not beneficial to the private sector.  

Clearly, the NWA has a vast operational and practical connection to the public vis a vis weather and a diverse membership ranging from private sector to government and military.

I think overall a weather commission is a good idea in theory.  We serve the public to protect life and property, do we not?  Why, then, is the gap between technology/research/weatherwise and the, generally speaking, weather-ignorant public getting larger (i.e., deaths in flash flooding, for example, that could've been avoided)?  Fancy social media networks, smart phone apps, dual-pol technology, etc. make it very easy to reach the public when a tornado warning has been issued, for example.  But, the public doesn't necessarily understand what they're receiving.  Have you ever been in a mall parking lot when a tornado siren is sounding?  If you have, and you looked around, you'll notice many people run for their cars and drive away - one of the most basic rules of tornado safety (your car is unsafe in a tornado).  Why do people drive through flooded roadways?  When there's a severe thunderstorm warning, why do people go about their day like nothing is any different except that it's about to rain?

Before we start a coalition of the most weatherwise folks, we need to understand what it takes for the public to understand and act when hazard weather occurs.  The more research and technology coming down the pipe may be able to show the world an awesome simulation of a tornado from start to finish, but if 10 people die in a trailer park from a weak tornado because they didn't take the proper shelter, what good is all of that?  The most ignorant of the ignorant need to be involved or this commission will do nothing but make us feel better about our jobs.  What are the needs of the public?  Do we really know how many people out of the thousands watching television during a tornado outbreak really understand what a tornado warning is?  From my experience, some people don't even have a television, or a working phone, nor do some of them know what county they even live in.  This might be surprising to this audience, but are we really in the business of saving the wealthies, smartest, most technologically sound people?  No; we must think down to our lowest common denominator, then work up from there.  A joint coalition of several weather sectors is a great idea IF and only if we fully understand that the priorities of this commission need to have the public's feeble minds/actions at heart.  If you put a bunch of eggheads together, chances are you turn out an amazing, intelligent agenda that can't reach anyone's mind w/ less than a Master's degree.  We need to take a real, honest look at our audience (i.e., you can't put 5,000 teenagers in a room where YES is performing - a few might understand and appreciate how technically difficult the music is, but most will be bored and not be affected by it......same concept here).  We have a chance to really make a difference and reach our audience as a joint force and truly close the gap between the research/science community and the general public.

The establishment of a Weather Commission is an excellent idea.  With a Commission of balanced representation from all Public/Private/Academic sectors, we can establish a well thought out plan for our next cycle of growth as an enterprise.  The impact our community has on the National Economy is tremendously under estimated.  But that is primarily due to our own inability to collectively understand that value ourselves, and demonstrate it to a public that has grown to expect the excellent level of service the community already provides.  Given the ever increasing knowledge base and technical capabilities of the weather community, the positive economic impact we provide will continue to grow.  But with the routine processes we have used in the past, that pace will be a small fraction of what it could be.  With a forward thinking Weather Commission, we can begin to improve the way we plan, improve the way we perform, and improve the way we are perceived, in order to maximize the benefits we can bring to the Nation.  A Weather Commission will be a big step forward for the American public.

Bryce L. Ford

A Weather Coalition that can focus how the Enterprise (public-private, research, operations, commerical...) can be harnessed to address national priorities would be valuable.  Current articulations of the Enterprise have often been from a provider perspective (what forcasts and products can we generate, what observations do we need, what do we want for ourselves)... I think we have a lot to contribute to outcomes of national priority: jobs, affordable health costs/efficiencies, energy security (renewable, and traditional), transportation (air, surface, ports, sea) infrastructure investments and maintenance, insurance cost controls, economic growth thru trade

As I discussed with Tom, in the current briefing it would be good to reframe the objectives as examples of contributions to higher level Weather commission outcomes

This is a great idea. It could be an excellent forum for identifying meteorological needs and related existing and needed capabilities in a variety of applications. However, in contrast to OFCM, which assesses meteorological needs and capabilities across government agencies, by including the private sector, academia, and UCAR, its pool of ideas and experience is even broader. We sometimes need advocates to overcome inertia and barriers and build support in order to transfer research into agency decision support tools, beyond what is currently being used and beyond even what is envisioned.

It is imperative that the United States create and sustain a world’s leading weather forecasting capability in order to ensure an economy and society that are as invulnerable as possible to the adverse effects of weather.  As a nation, we are currently inhibited in achieving this goal by the lack of broad alignment across the entire weather enterprise towards this singular mission.  Although the weather enterprise in the U.S. is without doubt the most robust in the world, it does not have a coordinated and unifying strategy focused on achieving forecasting superiority for our nation.  This has resulted in broad, uncoordinated activities that generally enhance our weather services, but lack alignment towards overall national weather superiority.  As a consequence, the skill of many of our core forecast products and services is either not world-class or not at the level possible had a more coherent approach to forecast superiority been adopted in the U.S.     This in turn leads to a society and economy which are increasingly vulnerable to weather.  It is imperative that our nation quickly become aligned towards achieving this objective and the primary purpose of the weather commission should be to identify a paradigm that will ensure that is the case.

Therefore, my full support for the establishment of the Commission is conditional provided that the predominate focus in the charge to the commission is to (a) identify a singular, clear path that will lead to our nation to having the world’s best weather forecast skill; (b) articulate specific recommendations and actions that will achieve that superiority and (c) complete this work as quickly as possible, no more than 18 months after commissioning.  In addition, Congress must express its intent to embrace the findings of the Commission and establish legislation that outlines programs, funding, protocols and policies that ensure the Commission’s recommendations are carried out as quickly and effectively as possible thereafter.

 

I strongly endorse this initiative. I attended the briefing on the Hill in September and based on the feedback from the meeting, it’s evident that now is the right time for the weather commission.  I believe it serves the commission best to have a broad appeal.  CSSI has contributed to the weather enterprise by advising the FAA in the development of requirements as they relate to weather products that support achieving regular, efficient and safe operations throughout the National Airspace System (NAS). New industries beyond the traditional NWS constituents need to come to the table. 

     I personally think that the Weather Enterprise, through forums like what is proposed, should be driving our over requirements.  NOAA/NWS should exist to serve those needs in data collection, NWP, Forecasts, and warnings.  A powerful thinktank like the Weather Commission could give broad, impartial guidance to Congress on what our NWS mission and deliverables should be.  Many of us believe we should providing much more detail in our forecasts (hourly or less temporal), a broad array of probabilistic forecasts, and the most accurate and seamless products possible.

Just remember that the process of change has many, many hurdles.  Just because we have not yet implemented things that have been discussed for years by several NSF reports does not mean we are ignoring them.  We hear you, but in many cases we have shackles and chains that must first be broken (by Congress) before we can be allowed to move forward and provide more and more high resolution services.  Help us do that, and you may be surprised how well we listen to you.  

 Thank you for your initiative and leadership with this effort. Ours is a very broad community of Earth scientists and practitioners. In my view, the commission has the greatest chance to have a large positive impact if scoped as broadly as the community itself. Therefore, consider scoping the effort as either a commission on Earth observations, science, and services or as a commission on weather, water, and climate. 

I wish you all the best with this important effort.

Of course, an open dialog with broad participation on the goals, objectives, and enabling support of the U.S. weather enterprise makes sense.   For 35 years, at AER we've worked at the intersection of university research collaborations, contract support of government programs, and providing environmental decision analytics and services to commercial markets.  We can probably agree that it's an interesting value chain with many players and perspectives!  Observations: the most elegant research result benefits few until transitioned to operations; the best forecast falls on the floor unless the consumer knows how to integrate it into his decision making work flow.  It's only by understanding and appreciating the strengths and weaknesses of university, public, and private sectors, that we can work together in an integrated manner to provide value,  whether to the research community, the taxpayer, or our customers. I'm in.

Prior to joining the University of Michigan, I managed development of forecast-assimilation-reanalysis systems at NASA Goddard, NASA's Earth and Space Data Computing Division, and the NOAA-NASA Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation.  In 1998-2000 I was lead author for a report to the Office of Science and Technology Policy analyzing high performance computing and high-end climate modeling (and to some extent weather modeling – they are not really separable).  Recently, I reviewed all of the NAS/NRC reports since 1979 that addressed climate and weather modeling.  From 1995-2001 I worked closely with Tony Hollingsworth from ECMWF and sociologist Pat Esborg, studying the organization and management of U.S. climate and weather activities.

Our weather and climate enterprise is highly fragmented, and the attempts to address this fragmentation over the past 2 decades have only been incrementally successful. Our funding process, in concert with our multi-agency, multi-center approach to address weather and climate, work against our efforts to integrate strong research programs into state-of-the-art products.  For example, we set up barriers by drawing programmatic boundaries between research and operations.  We find it prestigious to fund research, but we find it routine and uninteresting to fund the infrastructure for data systems, production computing centers, and software infrastructure.  We set up programmatic imperatives that require continuous redefinition of foundational capabilities as novel research programs, for example, we find it difficult to support routine satellite observations, their data systems, and their use in forecast applications.  As a concrete example, while at NASA if improvement of forecasting were the priority, then it was obvious that the data from a Department of Defense satellite should be a priority development.  However, I was at NASA, and no program manager owned the success of that satellite's impact.   We do not think about the our forecast capabilities as an integrated systems of observations, data and computational infrastructure, software infrastructure, process-level research, models, model evaluations, use of the models, and evaluation of effectiveness of forecast products.  We do not have integrated planning, development, and implementation.  Rather we spread our resources around our agencies and centers, and leave "coordination" to, primarily, jawboning, and short-term opportunity.  (Back when working with Hollingsworth and Esborg on this, Tony stated many times that part of the success of ECMWF was that they did not “own” any satellites, so they could use the data that successful forecasts required.  As opposed to the data that a successful satellite mission or agency required.)

If the Weather Commission can disrupt our current fragmented approach to this problem, and support the development of the needed integrated capabilities, then it will be of utmost importance.   It needs to be a sustained activity, not a one-off report.  It needs to represent the value of model-based forecasts and projections to society.  It needs to demand the need for balanced expenditures in observing systems, information systems, software, basic research, applied research, model development, model application, and evaluation of how well those societal needs are met.  It needs to demand the integration of our fragmented activities into product-driven capabilities.  The Commission needs enough clout that it motivates links from end-to-end - funding process, research and development, implementation and application, evaluation of effectiveness. 

Of the ideas that I have seen proposed over the past 20 years, the Weather Commission, as I understand it from Dr. Bogdan's vision, has the potential for being an effective motivator of substantive change.   We face fundamental challenges if we strive to be second to none.  We need to address the fragmentation, which requires a new "business model."  The current way that we do business promotes and often rewards fragmentation.   And unless we address the underlying issues that sustain fragmentation, simply adding money to the system will only have marginal impact. 

Dick Rood has stated the issue precisely. If a weather commission could focus the many operational and research funding agencies on producing a product, i.e., the majority of the enterprise was focused on the key portions of the observation to product chain requiring assessment, understanding and improvement, then I would be fully supportive of such a commission.

As background for my comments, I served at NSF for 25 years as the Program Director for the Global Atmospheric Research Program (GARP), the Head of the Lower Atmospheric Research Section, and the Director of the Atmospheric Division.  I also was the founding Director of the Policy Program of the AMS.   Since the formation of a US Weather Commission is not a new idea, I have had many conversations about the formation of such a Commission with Dr. Richard E. Hallgren, former Director of the NWS/NOAA as well as the AMS Executive Director Emeritus and Dr. Robert M. White,  the first Administrator of NOAA.  I should say, without offering their comments to this board, that Dr. Hallgren has indicated to me that he felt, at least in the past, that the formation of such a Commission was a rather empty exercise, and Dr. White was an enthusiastic supporter of the idea.  Over the years, I have been rather neutral about the idea for the very reasons offered by many on this board.  I must say, however, that if such a Commission were to be iaugurated, Dr. Neal Lane's recommendations are quite sound and should be followed.  In short, I very much support Dr. Lane's thoughts on this subject viz.., as he said, "In my view, having the right set of commissioners – with a strong chair, who commands respect, is perceived as not having a pre-set agenda, and is not seen as self-serving, is very important to the success of any commission."

After the many excellent comments already made, it is hard to see who would benefit from the failure to establish an effective and representative commission and set of supporting reviews. In particular, it may have been the case in the past that roles were being sorted out between the private and public sector parts of the weather community, for many reasons. Now, however, the success of the private sector in all segments of the enterprise, in interlocking partnership with the public sector – and the public interest – warrants a new and comprehensive look at the future directions and investments.

The increasing daily, seasonal, and long-term importance of weather variability has been painfully impressed on all, and we face many issues such as the need for improved observation, satellite coverage, and review of the equity issues for the under-served and financially limited populations and interests. From my own work, it seems that there has been very good market penetration of agricultural weather services to those willing and able to acquire the services, but a significant public interest remains in getting erosion and conservation-relevant weather and climate information to the holders of a large portion of U.S. farmland, who may be limited in their ability to invest. Similarly, large water suppliers have access to superb information compared to just a decade ago, but smaller systems may be operating with much less appreciation of available information and limited capacity to acquire and interpret important information.

Natural hazards exposure continues to increase, and it is problematic whether this is in ignorance of the risks of flooding, for example, and how they may have changed and will continue to change. Nationally, we cannot afford to allow ignorance of land use risks to put still more property and persons at increasing risk. There may be unfortunate decisions, but at least we can reduce the chance that they are made without knowledge of the risks.

Who would benefit from lack of a thoughtful national discussion? The costs of a good effort seem far lower than the potential benefits, and the chances of a good effort seem high enough to justify taking advantage of the window of high concern and high levels of good will.

i strongly endorse this initiative.  enviornmental services are critical to saving lives and growing the Us economy.  a commission is vital to focusing the community and stakeholders on proper role of public and private sector within the enterprise, and laws that build flexibility to make it easier for the public and private sector work collaboratively to make the us econony more productive as weather sensitive businesses struggle with the impacts of weather on there businesses and bottomlines.

I received this link from an e-mail from the AMS on 28 November and I don't know if the distribution has really reached everyone who may have some valuable input to offer.  I was concerned that anyone like me who had only 2 days to comment would be discouraged from offering input.  If this commission does eventually form, better communication methods within the entire Weather Enterprise will likely be needed, or expanded time windows for comments to allow wider distribution of information.  I agree with many who stated that the commission should not be just an "old boy network" and truly represent multiple levels in multiple sectors, including forecast staff "in the trenches" who actually routinely create and communicate forecast information to the user community.  I also agree that specific metrics to track success of the commission will be necessary.

One final note, will this commission replace other established groups within our Enterprise who already lobby Congress or are requested to testify to Congress when weather/climate-related issues are being discussed?  This commission could just duplicate efforts of other groups, which could highlight discontinuities in priorities and perspectives within our enterprise, something that high-level decision-makers do not respect.  I would hope that any commission that is formed would be treated almost like a Union of Concerned Meteorologists that is recognized as the ultimate authority on highlighting current and future Enterprise abilities and needs.

This potential commission may want to consider a segment of social scientists and perhaps even marketers, since selling our ideas and priorities to Congress in terms of saving/making money and "benefits to voting blocks" is how Congress is motivated to take action.

Thank you for your time and opportunity to provide comments.  My comments are my own and don't represent my employer.

Neil Stuart

The main word is FOCUS! I don't care whether this commision is through the AMS or the US Goverment. A coordinated, FOCUSED advocacy effort is needed. In the briefing slides, I like the steps that Pamela laid out:

 
+ Set community priorities
+ Proactively advocate for those priorities
+ Respond quickly to the critical issues
If the commission only focused on setting priorities, supporting that prioritization through a repeatable surveying methodology to track progress, and began to work on the first priority, I would call it a success! If the commission tries to do everything, it'll be another group of well intentioned and hardworking people that ultimately fall short of getting a lot done (not talked about or written about, but DONE). Let's do this, but keep it highly focused. This means some sectors and organizations will be left out of the initial priorities, and that's OK. As long as the priorities are set responsibly and progress can be measured, less is more. Simple and focused. FOCUS!
JOEL GRATZ
CEO & Founder
OpenSnow.com

The proposal that the weather community encourage the Congress to create a U.S. Weather Commission has much merit and is especially timely.  A high-level Commission would raise considerably the understanding and recognition by the Congress – and the public -- of the impact that weather has on the U.S. economy and job creation, and the invaluable benefits of the weather enterprise in saving lives, protecting livelihoods, improving services and mitigating damages.  A Commission would articulate not only the state and importance of the weather enterprise and the services it provides, but would also bring much-needed attention to the advances we know to be possible and doable today given increased resources and priorities for improved observations, modeling, computing, communications, and decision-making, let alone those advances that will be possible down the road given appropriate support for R&D and R2O.  And a Weather Commission could lay down a much-needed framework for improving the integration of weather resources among all relevant Federal, regional and local agencies, academia and the private sector.  I enthusiastically endorse the establishment of a Weather Commission and encourage others to lend their support.  A concerted effort is needed to get the disparate parts of the weather enterprise to speak with as much of a common voice as possible in order to get the full attention of policy makers in Washington. 

Walter F. Dabberdt, PhD

Vaisala Chief Science Officer

NCAR Associate Director Emeritus

AMS Past President

I appreciate the AMS having already sponsored a commission (ref. http://www.ametsoc.org/boardpges/cwce/ ) that invites broad participation, including the public sector.  One reason I appreciate AMS as a sponsor is its institutional impartiality as a forum to accommodate discussion of the intersection among public, private, and academic interests.  While a US gov't sponsored weather commission could probably improve coordination and input and raise priorities within the public sector, I hope it would not be seen as a replacement of our own AMS Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise.

Just a short note to recommend inclusion of the ocean side of weather. The Interagency IOOC could well provide input on this if they have not. 

I am generally reluctant to jump into these community discussions, however, having reviewed the comments on the weather commission; I feel the issue may need additional input. I served as a program manager for Navy numerical weather modeling for eight years in Washington, D.C., sat on NRC panels, served on the USWRP board and the initial USGCRP panels, participated in review and advisory panels for NOAA, NCAR and Navy laboratories, sat on program review panels for NSF and NASA, and helped to establish DOD policy on weather and climate. The past five years I have been the technical lead for the National Unified Operational Prediction Capability (NUOPC) and the chair of the Interim Science Steering Group for an operational Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC), the latter involving six Federal environmental prediction programs. I believe I am in a position to provide (my personal) insight into the Federal process for weather and earth system prediction.

NUOPC and ESPC have arisen from a desire by the heads of several Federal agencies to address the “ECMWF issue” and focus US environmental prediction efforts. These efforts were initiated in 2005, and while not the first attempts, they are moving slowly forward against a formidable, systemic enemy – free enterprise. The strength of the US system – mission specific agencies and competitive funding of laboratories – is a major hurdle in bringing the US scientific effort to bear on a single Earth System Prediction Capability similar to the ECMWF. Even within NOAA, mission specific departments and laboratories struggle to collaborate. On top of this, the failure of the NPOESS consortium which left NOAA with a crippling budget issue and DOD without needed observational capability has resulted in greater caution in joint efforts. Senior officials are reluctant to fully commit to joint efforts for fear of losing mission capability they are required to provide to their customers.

Does a weather commission solve this issue? I don’t believe so. Many have cited the Ocean Commission as an example of success; however, the Ocean Commission was addressing an issue where the US lacked capability, was greatly under-invested, and mission capability was not threatened. In weather, climate, and earth system prediction, the US is fully funded, maintaining mission capability is critical, and customers and performers are both vocal and influential. The issue facing us today is one of allocation of funds – one at least as difficult as solving our current tax and entitlement morass. Reading through the previous comments, one cannot help but see positions of the many competing entities. Can you envision a weather commission of mere mortals able to balance the many competing constituencies and able to persuade Congress and the Federal agencies to reallocate funds? The Tax Commission failed to convince Congress to upset favorite rice bowls, even in the face of potentially catastrophic consequences.

I believe the answer to the “ECMWF issue” could be far simpler and, at this point, requires strong leadership. The US needs to establish a joint, high security, operational earth system prediction capability and require all Federal agencies to migrate to that facility for medium to inter-annual prediction within 15 years. The facility would need to be secure, have pentaflop to exaflop computing capability, and sufficient, secure communications capability to provide US operational agencies with reliable data. This is not a difficult solution. NCAR is building a super computer facility in Wyoming for environmental science; however, the benefit to the operational agencies is unclear. NOAA ESRL has a supercomputing facility for model development. DOE has supercomputing facilities being used for climate prediction. Numerous super computer facilities have been funded around the US – but none dedicated to operational earth system prediction – and all competing for US funding and scientists – and leading to an unfocused US earth system prediction effort. After NPOESS, there is little trust that NOAA can lead or fund this effort and other agencies are very protective of their budgets and mission. ECMWF was put in place as an additional facility addressing a common problem. It did not replace participating country efforts initially. The US has the opportunity to provide such a capability in a similar manner. Instead of a weather commission, more appropriate would be a commission to design an independent organization to provide secure medium to inter-annual earth system prediction capability with facilities to enlist the support of top US scientists – and gradually redirect the environmental prediction programs of a dozen competing Federal agencies and a myriad of NSF funded academic efforts.

It is exciting to see our community responding collectively with the Weather Commission idea. As the incoming President-Elect of the American Meteorological Society, I am keenly interested in the health of our full community enterprise. I also serve on key FACA committees for NOAA and NASA and as the Director of the Atmospheric Sciences Program at UGA, a relatively new program with ties to strong theoretical meteorology and applied sciences. I will list my thoughts/ideas/concerns in no particular order:

1. Many of the functions articulated for the WC may already exist within organizations like the AMS, AMS WCE, etc. What are the relative roles of WC vs AMS functions (and other relevant organizations like NWA, etc.). I am generally supportive of having the discussion about the WC, so I applaud the effort and support the intent. I don't want this question to be taken as protecting territory. Instead, I am asking how we leverage existing and emerging expertise and organizational capacity within the WC.

2. Clearly the community is a "winner", but are there other entities that stand to gain as "winners" and are there "losers" (perceived at least) and why? This is a candid question intended to illicit stakeholders to step outside of its own perspective to view how others may perceive the effort.

3. Oceans Commission raised visibility for that community but what were the lasting or sustainable outcomes/deliverables. I hear varying viewpoints on the long-term value of the Ocean Commission beyond the initial "bump".

4. Is/will there be a role for students/young professionals? How do we ensure that WC doesn't become an establishment or "old boys" network. There are unique challenges in our community, diversity-wise, and everyone needs to be at the table for such initiatives.

5. Is there more detail on an organization, management, voting/representation structure?

6. Will climate/climate serves be represented in anyway (short-term or long-term climate) or is it considered taboo?

7. How will non-weather stakeholders that have clear weather interests be represented or included within a WC framework?

In summary, my comments are meant for consideration and discussion, I am fully supportive of the conversation and learning more. Please let me know how I can assist in the effort going forward.

Our Nation's founders appreciated the value in understanding local weather. There may be a way to re-invent the thrift and value demonstrated by Ben Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Wouldn't all segments of our society be best served today by taking advantage of the amazing progress in the science and technology at the government and academic level on a national basis, while returning the reporting of weather to America's main streets?

Research on numerical modelling should not have to compete with operating over 100 offices across the U.S. Our immense economy easily supports the need for the highest level of guidance product development in the world. Satellite, Radar and observational technology should also be part of this national infrastructure born by the public's need to ensure the highest degree of safe commerce.

Educated consumers make the best decisions in shopping for themselves. Meteorologists have decades of proven experience in delivering tailored weather products.

In a similar fashion to the way the FCC auctions the radio spectrum to cell phone providers, the value of producing and delivering local weather information could be established and then licenses would be made available to qualified bidders. The national network of licensees would employ the most experienced scientists at the local level to deliver the best service in order to justify and maintain the local license.

The Weather Enterprise needs to find a way to be self-critical, acknowledging inefficiencies and persistent misalignments and provide an open forum for a continuing constructive dialog on realistic ways of refining the roles and functions of the stakeholders to operate more collaboratively and effectively.  The Commission has the potential to facilitate this.  Each sector – public, private, academic – needs to be clear and consistent in its own messaging  as well as in jointly articulating improvements in public safety and commerce that collectively benefit the Weather Enterprise.  The Federal Agency stakeholders in particular need to significantly improve their common messaging and cooperation.  The Commission needs to carefully guide the restructuring discussion, beyond just that of the NWS and NOAA.  Eliminating the legacy NOAA stovepipes to consolidate missions and functions should be seriously considered, e.g. combining NWS and much of NESDIS and OAR to form a new Weather and Climate Prediction Service or merging Fisheries with EPA, in order to reduce unnecessary overhead (and competition) and better integrate products and services and their underlying infrastructure.  Maybe the Office of the Federal Coordinator belongs under OSTP with some teeth and greater independence to lead the resolution of longstanding misalignments, e.g. between NWS and FAA, and realize serious benefits.  The Commission has the potential to raise a few clear, key signals above the noise of legacy disarray in this field so that legislators and policy makers may act decisively to sustain the US Weather Enterprise and keep us on the leading edge of global weather and climate prediction and impact assessment.

 

I support the idea of a commission that has a stated purpose that will lead to the "best" outcomes for the common good rather than "To ensure that the commission is structured and designed in a way that will lead to the best outcomes for the weather community" as stated in the open letter.

In my opinion, the best outcomes for the common good requires a committment to the principle of "subsidiarity". Simply put, this means that each service activity is performed at the level best suited to deal with the scope of that activity. There certainly are roles for academia, government, NGO, and private sector meteorologists, atmospheric scientists, managers. etc., in the weather enterprise. These roles oftentimes overlap and may be at cross purposes. I support the idea expressed by others that the commission must have strong leadership, not necessarily chaired by a person from the weather enterprise. The purpose and need must not limit the charge of the commission to find a path forward that is good for us in the business of weather, but has a stated purpose that would result in positive outcomes for the genral population.

In response to questions regarding the market value of weather, I suggest that one of the gosls of the commission would be to update the 1970 publication by W. J. Maunder 

  1. The value of the weather. By wj MAUNDER. New York: Harper and Row; London: Me- thuen & Co. Ltd., 1970. Pp. xxiv, 388

It should surprise no one that, as the immediate past-president of the American Meteorological Society (AMS), I stand firmly in favor of defending and enhancing the financial, technical, and intellectual stability of the United States weather enterprise, in all of its elements.  And since my employer, Lockheed Martin Corporation, is engaged in a number of business interests in “the weather business,” including the GOES-R spacecraft and two new instruments, radar and lidar systems, radiosondes and ocean sensors, information technology, FAA weather flight services, and energy solutions, I can safely say my leadership and colleagues would strongly agree in the need for support of the enterprise.  Therefore, my colleagues and I welcome discussion of the proposal from UCAR and the Weather Coalition (in which we are a corporate member) to create a Weather Commission. 

I have heard members of the weather community cite the political visibility given to the oceans by the Ocean Commission.  However, the Joint Ocean Commission Initiative’s 2012 U.S. Ocean Policy Report Card, an assessment of the nation’s progress toward implementing the National Ocean Policy, clearly shows this visibility has not resulted in meeting all of the hopes and dreams of those who proposed, fought for, and served on the Ocean Commission.  And one should also note the current political landscape is quite different from when that Commission was formed, meaning its use as a blueprint may not be fully appropriate.

At the end of the day, however, there is so much at stake for the nation in our need to sustain the capabilities of the National Weather Service, the National Environmental Satellite Data & Information Service, and the private sector industry, all of which are engaged in vitally important service to society in environmental prediction.   Therefore, I strongly support this discussion and look forward to participating in it.

In my view, the proposed US Weather Commission is a much-needed idea for the reasons specified here. Weather/climate impacts on water e.g. droughts, floods, and inter-annual variability in water supply are some of the visible faces of weather/climate in the public. Decision made in the proposed commission will have far reaching impacts on “how we manage the water”. For example: the proposed commission can address the question – if weather/climate assessment, including climate change impacts, be made a necessary component for all/most water infrastructure projects. If answer is ‘yes’ (which I would argue for), then it can affect several water infrastructure projects e.g. designs of bridges and culverts (managed by department of transport), reservoirs designs and operations (managed by Bureau of Reclamations), design and constructions of hurricane and storm damage reduction infrastructure (US Army Corps of Engineers). I think water community should be represented in the proposed commission.

Preparing new workforce: Who will prepare weather/climate assessment plan? What are necessary qualifications for preparing weather/climate assessment plan?  For example, a master degree in Environmental Management or something similar to that can be made a qualification for preparing weather/climate assessment plan. Who certifies the weather/climate assessment plan for its completeness and best available information at the time of preparation? If academic community (e.g. climate scientist) were asked to certify the climate/weather assessment plan then what are rewarding as well as accountability mechanism built in this. I realize that question raised here are not new. Several groups are addressing these questions in voluntarily manner e.g. Climate change effects assessment on Federal Hydropower (Sale et al., 2012), United States Geological Survey climate change effects assessment report (Hay et al. 2011). There is a need to bring coherency in ‘weather/climate assessment report’, and some mandatory provisions for ‘plan of actions’ based on these reports/findings. I also realize that not every detail can be addressed in the proposed commission; however some overall guidance would be helpful.

These comments represent my personal views only.

References: 

Hay L. E., S. L. Markstrom, and C. Ward-Garrison (2011), Watershed-scale response to climate change through the twenty-first century for selected basins across the United States, Earth Interactions, Vol. 15, Paper No. 17, DOI: 10.1175/2010EI370.1.

Sale, M. J., S.-C. Kao, M. Ashfaq, D. P. Kaiser, R. Martinez, C. Webb and Y. Wei (2012), Assessment of the Effects of Climate Change on Federal Hydropower, Technical Manual 2011/251, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, Oak Ridge, TN.

Sanjiv Kumar

post-doctoral research scientist, Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies, Calverton, MD

visiting scientist, National Center for Atmopsheric Research, Boulder, CO

 

The comments presented here are my own personal views and do not represent the views of any of my affiliations. 

Thank you for putting forward the idea of a Weather Commission and for soliciting input on this proposal.   I believe it will spur a much-needed discussion.  As we are often reminded, weather greatly impacts our country in many ways—whether personal, societal, economic or environmental.

Nevertheless, we cannot lose sight of the fact that weather is not the only environmental issue that impacts America. In the last two years alone, the United States has experienced the long-term effects of drought, earthquakes, the Deep Water Horizon disaster, changes in water availability, and more. As if addressing these environmental impacts were not difficult enough, these have been coupled with ongoing programmatic challenges, technology development delays, cost overruns, shrinking budgets, and a lack of leadership and decision making to effectively implement our Earth observation programs.

These considerations lead me to believe that the country may be better served by looking at options other than a Presidential Weather Commission.

I outline below my concerns about the proposed Commission:

  1. The Risk of Deferred Decision Making—In the past, key decisions have been deferred while the Administration and Congress await the results of high-level studies. This is time we cannot afford and a risk that I believe we should not take.  With a long-lead period between its formation and the time its recommendations are eventually issued, the Commission may not be well-positioned to impact current critical issues, such as: funding for JPSS and GOES-R (programs that are already experiencing uncertainty given current Senate legislative language and budget constraints), planned National Weather Service management improvements, or the priorities of the incoming NWS Director, the NOAA Administrator, and the White House. At the end of the day, the Commission’s recommendations could remain as such – recommendations – and the community could find little or no advance at the end of this effort.
  2. The Need for Leadership and Management—The problems we face today will not be solved by a Commission report, a National Academies study, or a Tri-Agency Federal Coordinating Committee. While high-level studies are useful to identify challenges and initiate discussions on solutions, these have already been identified by numerous reports and expert bodies, several in the last year alone. The issues we face in terms of technology development, data integration, improved forecasting, and changing national needs will only be solved by leadership and improved and consistent management.
  3. The Risk of Stovepiping—One of my biggest concerns is that a Weather Commission will address only weather.  Yet, if there is one lesson that our nation has learned, it is that understanding the Earth system requires the integration of numerous observations and environmental information products – whether ocean, land, or atmospheric.  Earthquakes, hurricanes, oil spills, drought infrastructure development, and an emerging alternative energy market all require observations and forecasting information that goes beyond weather.   We have made great strides to better understand the Earth as a system. I fear that focusing solely on one part of what should continue to be a comprehensive Earth observing and environmental information effort will fail to serve the long-term needs of our country.
  4. Limited Return on Investment—Some experts with whom I have talked have noted that the cost of a Commission could range from $5 million to $7 million and that it would be a multi-year proposition. Referencing the Oceans Commission endeavor at a recent meeting, Admiral Paul Gaffney remarked that Commissions take a great deal of effort from many people.   Without a clear outcome an in light of an already-constrained NOAA budget, I wonder whether this investment will provide the nation with the results needed in the timeliest and most cost effective manner.
  5. Consideration of the Administration—Finally, I am concerned that the proposed Commission might send a negative message to the Obama Administration as it begins its second term.  Could the proposed Commission inadvertently pre-empt steps the Administration might take in this area?  With the election just decided, I believe our community should support the Administration, allow it to respond to recent events and the findings recently-released reports, but also be proactive in providing insights and solutions via letters, briefings, and editorials.  In other words, I believe our time may be best used identifying key people for appointments as well as strategies and considerations for the next four years.

I thank you for the opportunity to provide my views on the proposed Presidential Weather Commission. Please note that these remarks represent my personal views and not the views of any initiatives or organizations with which I may be affiliated.

Nancy Colleton
President
Institute for Global Environmental Strategies

Permit me to register a contrarian opinion.What would this proposed commission do?  Is it to serve as an umbrella organization to unite the other related groups?  Would government agencies fall under this group, and how do you propose to convince them to do so?  Would you expect to apply for government funding and have the results sent to a government agency?  It's unlikely that a group founded by participants will have much input to decisions of senior government figures.  Often enough, the committees that such form are either ignored or barely acknowledged.If this is a discussion group only, then sure; do it.  But such requires no formal structure of leadership.  It can be established simply, according to the desires of whoever might want to take that step.  Invite professionals, even amateurs, to become members.  Either direct discussions or allow them to flow freely in order to generate more ideas.If the group is to be professional and generate compelling recommendations, who would fund it and who would receive the reports?  If it's to be academic in nature, then universities should do the funding and the generated information fed to them, as appropriate.  So far, I see a lot of enthusiasm but without much examination of the proposal.

jlknapp505

In the context of John Lasley's comment yesterday, and as a follow on to my comment of yesterday, I suggest the topic of choosing an appropriate leader of the Weather Commission be high on the agenda at our informal community networking event at the AGU meeting on Dec. 4. I hope some people have candidates in mind. If so, perhaps some of those candidates can be contacted prior to our networking meeting to at least get their first impression as to whether they might be interested in the job. Maybe some of these candidates will be at AGU, and can be persuaded to provide input at our meeting on Dec. 4.

Some have said to me that their view is that the findings and recommendations of the WC should be reported
directly to the President of the United States. That is a good idea. The head of the WC should report directly
to the President.

Michael L. Goodman

I strongly agree with the establishment of a Weather Commission.  With the current and foreseeable economic environment, there is a strong need for an authority to pull together the combined efforts  of the public, private and academic sectors of our weather community to insure the U.S. continues to lead in the provision of weather services and make it a “weather-ready” nation.  However, I urge those taking the lead in creating a Weather Commission to provide it with the necessary authority to do the job.  Such authority would require the commission to have influence in the federal budgetary process, with access to both the executive (OMB?) and legislative (Congressional Budget Committee?) branches of government.  The commission must be sufficiently funded to support meeting/travel expenses and any necessary independent studies.

The recent NSF study, “Toward a Nationwide Network of Networks (NNoN)”, concluded there was need for a “central authority” if we were ever to achieve a NNoN.  This was followed by an AMS Ad Hoc Committee report on the NNoN which agreed with the requirement for a “central authority”.  Unfortunately the ad hoc committee was unable to agree on the scope and responsibilities of the CA.  In the creation of the Weather Commission, I would hope that one of the first tasks for it would be to take on the role of the “central authority” for insuring the creation of the NNoN.  

Neal Lane's comment (Nov. 8, 2012) is very important. In particular, his statement:

"Key to the success of any commission is a chair with stature and great experience in dealing with many different disparate groups. The chair, in my view, should be someone who is not necessarily a member of the weather enterprise. Instead, the chair and perhaps a significant number of the commissioners should be widely respected and influential leaders from the sectors of our society who are the beneficiaries of what the weather enterprise produces."

indicates to me the need to find someone as soon as possible who can be an effective leader in the sense defined by Professor Lane. The Weather Commision will necessarily be a political organization in that it will be effective only if it can directly influence Congress and the Executive Branch. Even if its plan for technology, services, coordination, etc. is a good one, it will not be effective without leadership that has a lot of political influence. Such a person would provide important guidance in this early stage of defining the Commission.

Michael L. Goodman

As discussed at a recent meeting, I believe it serves the coalition best to have a broad appeal.  Even though weather is the hook, the coalition would achieve broadest support if that includes a large umbrella of disciplines of related topics, all of which that fall under NCAR (and likely more).  That would include climate, atmospheric sciences, and even "space weather".

The establishment of a commission to fullfil the duties identified in your letter is timely and important at this critical juncture for our national environmental monitoring, prediction and services. I urge you to consider thinking more innovatively to overcome the barriers we have created during the past several decades on the path to progress in delivering environmental products and services to the nation in the same spirit that weather services have benefited all. We do have the intellectual leadership, technological innovations and equally important the need to have such services for our generation, our children and their children. I strongly believe that the ability to pursue and deliver such capabilities to the nation is not constrained by resources but by the organizational and phillosophical barriers we have created in the past. The total investment by US Federal agencies focusing on weather/climate/environmental observations, research, modeling, prediction and associated servicess is greater than any other nation around the world, and perhaps equals the sum of the top three to five nations that invest most in such efforts. We have been burdened by the legacies of the past while we should be inspired by the opportunites and capabilties for the future. I do commend your initiative for elevating the profile of national weather capabilities, but I do hope you consider extending the mandate of the commission to focus on total environmental monitoring, research, prediction and service. 

Establishing a weather-focused commission is a good one. However, such establishments are only as good as the leadership, with the proper vision, to steer them in the right direction.

I have talked about multiple deficiencies within the weather/climate enterprise so far. Two of such deficiencies are mentioned below:

  1. Weather/climate data users (should) significantly outweigh weather/climate data product and service providers for developing a vibrant weather enterprise. Unfortunately, these users may not usually belong to any organizations active in the weather community. Identifying and integrating them into the weather community dialog will present a key challenge to the weather enterprise but a challenge that must be overcome.

  2. Our desire to collect more observations is quite understandable and should be supported but our inability to understand the fundamental limitations of such measurements must be made clearer. I have plans to just do so and will write on this subject matter in the near future.

     

    If a commission like this gets established, will it address the above noted deficiencies and others?

 

James Stalker

After the publication of the Oceans Commission report several years ago, NOAA and many in the Congress seemed solely focused on those aspects of NOAA’s mission that were related to the oceans, to the near exclusion of weather. In fact, the prior Administration’s proposal for a NOAA Organic Act, which was based on the Ocean Commission recommendations, would have literally abolished the NWS as a separate line office or agency. (That version was rightfully rejected by Congress). The proposed Weather Commission might be a good vehicle to bring a better balance to NOAA’s perception of its mission and to educate Congress and the nation about the untapped opportunities that exist for improving the nation’s safety and commerce through enhanced weather services, and the risks that the nation faces as a result of underfunding of the National Weather Service. Additional work needs to be done to define the objectives and role of such a commission, and to clarify how it will supplement rather than duplicate the fine work recently done by the National Research Council. NWSEO would likely support such a commission provided that its goals include addressing the role and interests of the NWS and its employees and not just the role and interests of the commercial and academic sectors.

Having served in the Clinton Administration, first at the National Science Foundation and then at the Office of Science and Technology Policy, I have been involved with a number of commissions and other outside, high level advisory groups.  Rather than comment on the specific issues that a weather commission should explore, instead, I want to offer some advice on what makes a commission successful – successful in that their recommendations have an impact on policies and decisions being made by the Federal Government.  Key to the success of any commission is a chair with stature and great experience in dealing with many different disparate groups.  The chair, in my view, should be someone who is not necessarily a member of the weather enterprise.  Instead, the chair and perhaps a significant number of the commissioners should be widely respected and influential leaders from the sectors of our society who are the beneficiaries of what the weather enterprise produces.  Admiral Watkins led the former ocean commission and many saw him as the prime reason such a commission enjoyed the success that it had.  Perhaps less well known is that Admiral Watkins led the AIDS Commission for President Ronald Reagan.  I imagine that there were a number of raised eyebrows when it was announced that Admiral Watkins had agreed to head up the AIDS commission – he was after all not from the respective medical or health research community dealing with the issue.  Perhaps it was that distance from the specific community that gave him and his commissioners the “60,000 foot” vantage point such commissions should have.  Norm Augustine headed up a blue ribbon commission on the Antarctic program at the time I was the NSF Director.  Dr. Augustine’s broad experience and stature was a key factor in this commission’s successful impact on the Antarctic program.  With his experience and credentials, Dr. Augustine was able to persuade OMB and the Congress to support and execute many of his commission’s top line recommendations.  The weather commission offers an important opportunity to educate and inform policy makers both in Congress and the Administration about the importance of a robust weather enterprise (research, operations, commercial services, etc.).  In my view, having the right set of commissioners – with a strong chair, who commands respect, is perceived as not having a pre-set agenda, and is not seen as self-serving, is very important to the success of any commission.

According to the study by Jeff Lazo et al, U.S. economic activity that is attributable to weather variability could be $485 billion per year.  Weather is responsible for about 70% of all aircraft delays, resulting in billions of dollars of economic impact to the aviation industry and to passengers.  Yet, the weather community has no idea how to document the value of a weather forecast.  Hurricane Sandy is estimated to have caused $50-100 billion in damage, but how much was saved by the accurate forecasts that allowed preparations to take place several days in advance?  How can industry determine whether a project, such as deploying a mesonet system throughout a city to provide better observations and forecasts for their customers, will create revenue or send them into bankruptcy?  We all know anecdotally that better wind forecasts will improve efficiency of wind farms and reduce the cost of electricity, but we have little hard economic evidence to spur the growth in LIDAR systems and other means to collect the wind data needed.

The economic benefit of space weather is also unknown.    A recent study claims that another Carrington Event could cause trillions of dollars of damage to the nation’s infrastructure and satellites and take years to recover from.  At a space weather forum last year there were calls for industry to get involved with better sensors, better forecasts, etc.  But when I asked what the market value for such services was, I got blank stares from the panelists.  Without a good market analysis of the value of these services, whether terrestrial or space weather, the private sector can rarely afford to take a risk and make an investment.  The NWS is in a similar situation.  The agency’s funding is less than $1B a year, about $3 per American.  We all know they are underfunded, but without a demonstrable estimate of the true value of their services, or the value of increased services with more funding,  there is no way to convince Congress to increase their budget in the current fiscal climate.

This is a challenge the weather commission should undertake.  Government, industry and academic meteorologists with experience in transportation, energy, agriculture, media, insurance, finance and other fields should be represented on the commission, with non-meteorology experts in those fields called upon on an adhoc basis to assist as needed.

I agree with Randy that the weather enterprise does not know how to value forecasts. That's becasue the enterprise is primarliy comprised of weather forecasters and those closely related to the science and art of weather and not experts trained in deriving values. Economists, on the other hand, do know how to put a value on the services of weather enterprise. (For instance see our work on the value of potentially improved hurricane forecasts (http://opensky.library.ucar.edu/collections/OSGC-000-000-001-026)).

Economists have the theories, methods, and applications to estimate the value of forecasts of pretty much any type for any sector.We also have methods for quantifying the economic impacts of weather (http://opensky.library.ucar.edu/collections/OSGC-000-000-001-022) and the value of research to improve weather forecasts (http://opensky.library.ucar.edu/collections/OSGC-000-000-000-571).

Given the serious budget issues the NWS is facing and likely lack of funding they may provide for economic analysis ... it would be great if the broader weather enterprise supported (ie funded!) research and applications on the value of weather forecasts. Until someone funds that work though it probably isn't going to be done!

To do this the weather enterprise needs to bring in all its partners ... including economists interested and able to do the research to provide information that can be taken to the Hill to demonstrate the importance of the enterprise!

Thanks,Jeff (economist)

 

 

Adequate thermodynamic and wind measurements of the lower troposphere, where severe weather originates and exacts most of its personal and economic tolls, are needed to improve high impact local weather forecasting. Here are quotes from recent major National Academy of Sciences reports:

[1]Recommendation: As a high infrastructure priority, federal agencies and their partners should deploy lidars and radio frequency profilers nationwide at approximately 400 sites to continually monitor lower tropospheric conditions. Humidity, wind, and diurnal boundary layer structure profiles are the highest priority for a network, the sites for which should have a characteristic spacing of ~125 km but could vary between 50 and 200 km based on regional considerations. Such observations, while not fully mesoscale resolving, are essential to enable improved performance by high-resolution numerical weather prediction models and chemical weather prediction at the mesoscale. Through advanced data assimilation techniques, data from these 400 sites, when used in combination with advanced geostationary satellite infrared and microwave soundings, Global Positioning System (GPS) constellation radio occultation measurements, and commercial aviation soundings, will effectively fill many of the critical gaps in the national observing system.

[2]Recommendation: Federal agencies and their partners should deploy a national network of profiling devices for mesoscale weather and chemical weather prediction purposes. Such devices should incorporate capabilities that extend from the subsurface to 2–3 km above the surface level. The entire system of observations in support of mesoscale predictions should be coordinated, developed, and evaluated through test-bed mechanisms.

[3]TODAY’S KEY CHALLENGES

·        Keeping Pace with accelerating scientific and technological advancement.

·        Meeting Expanding and Evolving User Needs in an increasingly information centric society.

·        Partnering with an Increasingly Capable Enterprise[4] that has grown considerably

Unfortunately, a Federal program to establish a national network of wind profiling radars and microwave thermodynamic profilers was recently terminated. Fortunately, the private sector is operating a Boundary Layer Network[5] including thermodynamic profilers at eight sites (as of Oct 2012) with plans for expansion to include one hundred or more national sites.

[3] Weather Services for the Nation: Second to None, National Research Council, 2012.

[4]The “enterprise” includes all entities in the public, private, non-profit, research, and academic sectors that provide information, services, and infrastructure in the areas of weather, water, and climate. For the purposes of this report, “enterprise” is often used as shorthand to refer those enterprise elements outside NOAA that it can draw on in its mission. The non-NOAA portion of the enterprise is now of equal or greater economic size compared to the NOAA portion.

A visiting scientist and student internship program involving industry, government, and academia should be part of the operation of the Commission. The flow of experienced professionals and students between these sectors will facilitate knowledge transfer, an understanding of the different and similar needs and interests of the different sectors, and make it easier to establish good relationships and policy objectives. It would also help students get
jobs in the weather sector.

Michael L. Goodman

The U.S. needs a group--like the commission--that will represent the entire community and which is ACCEPTED to represent the community.  A group that cannot and will not be ignored by NOAA.  

The commission will only only work if it has the right people.  They can't be simply ex-officio folks that don't understand enough of the technical side of the enterprise to help guide the national effort.  They have to know what it takes to make good forecasts and where the U.S. stands in the world.  And they can't be get-along types that are afraid to suggest real change.  The commission should be able to lobby congress. The AMS has been entirely too passive in this regard...the commission must be more active.

The truth is that NOAA is dysfunctional regarding weather forecasting.  Our NWP is lagging ECMWF and UKMET office, where we should be leaving them in the dust.  The satellite acquistion has been a mess.  The NOAA labs relationship with the NWS is poor at best and doesn't serve the nation well.  The NWS has dragged its feet regarding an advisory committee...Perhaps the commission could take that role. The NWS has generally had an insular, not invented here attitude toward innovations coming from the outside.  Coordination of the various sectors of the weather enterprise has been poor.

The private sector must have a signficant role in the commission, reflecting their increasing size and importance.

In short, the commission could be a very good thing if done right.  Done wrong, a waste of time.

Cliff Mass

I can't speak for all of NWS or NOAA, but many of us do not ignore the rest of the Weather Enterprise.  I have been attempting to implement many of the ideas that have come out of several good NSF studies regarding the NWS.  And there are many others that want to do the same.  However, we are paralyzed by the "process" and have not been able to obtain the efficiencies necessary to make additional investments in high resolution NWP ensembles and probabilistic formats.  

I would welcome an independent review from a body like this to tell us exactly what we need to hear and where we should head in the future.  But someone has to implement it with authority.  Otherwise, a few powerful people will say no to change and nothing will happen. 

The need for a Weather Coalition should be assessed carefully and not just jumped upon. The letter begins the process by highlighting the different motivations of the sectors, rather than strongly motivating the benefits of unity. We need to define the mission and elucidate the potential benefits. This coalition will not succeed if it just becomes another property of UCAR/NCAR.

I was at the UCAR meetings a few weeks ago. A weather commission is a good idea when times are tight. We need to move it forward. I agree with the comment above  that it needs to protrayed as a win-win for all, that research is needed, that we need to assess if there are too many mets, and we need to establish priorities. I would only add that these conversatoins should include the private sector, as they would be interested in these topics too.  I'd be glad to be part of the commission, and our faculty supports the idea.  

The concept of a weather commission is excellent but the devil is in the details.  The idea needs to be framed as a win-win-win for government, the public sector and the research community.  I would hope research to operatoins would be a focus as the operations are not deploying cutting edge science.  This reallhy appears to be a struggle and obstacles need to be identified. 

Furthermore, we need to assess if we are producing too many meteorlogists for a tight market place.  The human capital component needs to be abalyzed.

Finally, prioriities need to be established.  Money will be tight for the foreseeable future.  How can these 3 pieces focus on common priorities?

 

Your ideas and insights will make a proposed US Weather Comission reflective of our community's depth and breadth.  I look forward to reading your comments.