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Thursday, March 10, 2011

Climate Monitoring Needs Operational System to Detect Natural, Forced Change

The global climate monitoring community needs an operational monitoring system that can gather data to help scientists distinguish between natural climate variability and forced change, according to a report compiled by Draper Laboratory based upon recommendations from members of the U.S. government, industry, and academia.

New sensors in space, on land, and at sea will be needed to handle this task, particularly since existing platforms are dying out faster than they are currently being replaced, according the report, which was released on March 10.

The report compiles findings and recommendations from presentations and workshop discussions at the 2010 Global Climate Monitoring Conference hosted by Draper in October. The attendees included personnel from NASA, the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the U.S. Navy, academic organizations like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and various aerospace companies.

In order to enable scientists to properly distinguish between natural and forced climate change, the U.S. government should establish means to coordinate operational global climate monitoring observations that enable data calibration, according to the report.

The report also calls for scientists to be provided with more open access to raw sensor data, and for the climate monitoring community to adopt standard metadata formats as well as means to convert data into formats sought by individual users.

The U.S. government should also establish an interagency task force that includes systems engineers, physical scientists, social scientists, and decision makers to define the design for the operational climate information system, according to the report. Enabling decision makers who lack a technical background to understand the data should be a top priority when designing infrastructure that can reach all stakeholders, such as those in areas including federal, state and local governments.

The full report: Click here

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