UCAR president Richard Anthes opened the meeting and outlined three topics for discussion: the use of the World Wide Web in helping to develop policy positions, for example, with respect to international distribution of data; systematic expansion of the International Affiliates Program (IAP) to include new affiliates with broader and more complete geographic coverage; and the importance of forging new alliances to accomplish research goals, which is of growing importance in a time of decreasing resources in support of science.
Friday reported on the recent World Meteorological Organization Congress, in particular the action taken regarding international exchange and availability of data. WMO's roots go back to the International Meteorological Organization, established in 1873 to provide for data flow across national boundaries. Over the past few decades there has been a growing trend that threatens free exchange of data: various meteorological services have begun to sell the data they collect to help offset their operating costs. For example, said Friday, the British Meteorological Office recovers 20-25% of its operating costs from the sale of service products.
The WMO Congress, Friday reported, confirmed formally that the policy of the WMO is for the "free and unrestricted exchange of data describing the state of the environment." This is defined to include upper atmosphere, in situ ocean, and synoptic surface (6-hour) observations. Satellite data are included "to the extent agreed to by WMO and satellite operators." Countries receiving data will be asked to honor whatever conditions the provider country imposes on use of the data. All global model information will be exchanged without restriction, and all data, including those with conditions attached, will be available to the research and education community for noncommercial use for only the cost of reproduction.
Next, NCAR director Robert Serafin described NCAR's work in developing a Climate System Model and Climate Simulation Laboratory, which will be widely available for scientists around the world. He commented on other current NCAR activities of potential international interest, including the Electra Doppler radar (ELDORA; see the Summer 1995 UCAR Quarterly), the C-130 and WB-57 aircraft, solar observations made on the coronagraph at Mauna Loa, and the involvement of NCAR and UCAR programs in research leading to the design of the new Hong Kong airport.
Serafin also described a major new modeling initiative and efforts to entrain international interest in funding it. A Consortium for Application of Climate Impact Assessments (ACACIA) is an outgrowth of the now-concluded Model Evaluation Consortium for Climate Assessment, which supported 20 climate modeling projects around the world on dedicated computing systems at NCAR. IAP meeting participants felt that ACACIA should tackle research problems aimed at solving questions of interest to the sponsors, especially those focused on region-specific impacts of global climate change.
University NAVSTAR Consortium director Randolph Ware traced the development of the GPS/Meteorology project, which uses global positioning satellites to derive temperature and humidity profiles in the atmosphere. Michael Exner, project director, demonstrated that results from GPS/MET soundings agree well with observations from other sounders and with models. He believes a relatively low-cost space-based system, in conjunction with ground-based techniques, could produce worldwide data around the clock.
COMET director Timothy Spangler described COMET's expanding role in providing training, via distance learning, for the international community. And director David Fulker's review of Unidata emphasized the program's community-based aspect and referred to the extensive use of the World Wide Web.
At the end of the meeting it was decided that UCAR should establish an active International Affiliates Web site to promote ongoing "virtual" meetings and conversations among the affiliates. An "alert" system should let affiliates know when a new item is posted. UCAR, through the IAP, also would pursue connections with the International Association of Meteorological and Atmospheric Sciences. The two groups together represent the international atmospheric sciences community and could assist each other in reaching common goals. Finally, representatives agreed that IAP membership should be expanded to more thoughtfully and deliberately achieve geographic balance and coverage.
The IAP home page is at http://home.ucar.edu/ucargen/org.info/intl.html
It includes a list of affiliates and representatives. The UCAR home page offers links to it and to other programs mentioned in this story.