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"Weather, Climate, and National Priorities"
On the positive side of the ledger, using information about prospective weather and/or climate variations can confer significant gains in safety, efficiency, and productivity. For example, communities can save lives by responding effectively to severe weather watches and warnings; individual utility companies can save millions of dollars by optimizing energy production and distribution in anticipation of weather and climate affected demands; and businesses can manage weather and climate risks efficiently by combining weather and climate forecasts with improved decision tools and appropriate financial instruments (weather derivatives, reinsurance, etc.).
It is increasingly evident to private and public sector leaders, as well as the general public, that a safer nation, an expanding economy, and a greater measure of national security in the future can be realized with more accurate, timely weather and climate information.
Planned Policy Study Series
As national leaders become more aware of these realities, they are recognizing the need for improvements in weather and climate services and products. To achieve such improvements will require substantial investments in atmospheric observational and computational infrastructure, in research and technology development, and in education. In many instances, these improvements will require multi-national arrangements, greater coordination across Federal agencies, and/or partnerships among government, industry, and academia. Some of these improvements must be tailored to respond to special needs of weather and/or climate sensitive national activities. In virtually every case, new policies will have to be developed: to enable improvements in national weather and climate capabilities, as well as, to apply these advances to the respective national activities.
A traditional approach for such policy development is to commission a small group of experts to carry out an analysis and make recommendations. However, this method often leads to insular thinking resulting in “solutions” that are self-serving and therefore gain limited acceptability, support, and utility. A better starting point to build a national consensus on new policies, in our view, is a series of high level, strategy dialogues. These dialogues will involve providers and users of weather and climate information; academics; and policy makers from a broad range of perspectives.
To cultivate these critically needed national discussions, the American Meteorological Society's Policy Program (APP) has launched a series of national policy studies that are focused on forums entitled “Weather, Climate, and National Priorities.” The series will develop recommendations for policies that will lead to weather and climate products and services that are designed to improve the efficiency of important national activities within four sectors, namely: the economy, public safety, the environment, and national security. The recommendations will also address infrastructure enhancements; research and technology developments and applications; and educational innovations to improve weather and climate information for public and private decision support systems in these sectors.
Each study will involve five phases:
I. Development phase – An initial exploration of the issues involved in the topic area will be undertaken. This phase will include identification of the critical elements and the key individuals, the casting of questions to focus the forum discussions on the central issues, and the assembling of study papers responding to the focus questions prepared by the key individuals.
II. Forum phase -- A forum will be organized to bring together significant players in the topic area with appropriate representatives from the weather/climate communities, as well as national, state, and local governmental leaders. The forum will conclude with a final discussion among all participants to develop general findings and recommendations that will be included in the forum report. One objective of each forum will be to identify the weather and/or climate information needs of the entities within the topic area and the capabilities, present and future, to meet those needs. A parallel objective will be the consideration of public and private policies that could enhance the availability and utility of weather and climate information.
Each forum will be organized around a series of panels, each designed to stimulate a period of general discussion among all participants to answer the focus questions with the objective of developing a set of findings and recommendations. The study papers and the papers prepared by each panelist to respond to the questions will be made available to all participants prior to the forum. The ensuing discussions will explore the national capacity of the public and private meteorological sectors to provide weather and climate products and services necessary for improving the efficiency and productivity of the particular activity under consideration. In view of the national interest in the subjects of these forums, there will be arrangements for media coverage of the discussions.
III. Analysis Phase – In many cases, a forum will result in the identification of complex policy issues that require more than limited interactions among the larger group of forum participants. For those cases, the APP will assemble a focus group of appropriate experts to carry out an analysis of key questions and synthesis of findings, optional policy actions, and recommendations.
IV. Report Phase -- The primary product of each forum and analysis phase will be a report that will be prepared by the APP to summarize the discussions with special attention to the findings and recommendations. Each report will be given wide public exposure and a targeted distribution so that the appropriate institutions and/or agencies will consider implementation of the recommendations.
V. Action Phase -- The APP will work with significant players in the topic area as well as federal, state, and local legislative leaders and corporate representatives to advocate and assist appropriately in the implementation of the recommendations, as requested.