Expert Report

Review of NOAA's Plan for the Scientific Stewardship Program (2005)

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

To better understand our climate system, it is important that we have climate data records (CDRs)--time series of measurements of sufficient length, consistency, and continuity to determine climate variability and change--that possess the accuracy, longevity, and stability to facilitate credible climate monitoring. In 2004, the National Research Council (NRC) published Climate Data Records from Environmental Satellites to provide the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) with initial guidelines on how to develop and implement an effective CDR program. NOAA used this report to draft a plan for a new Scientific Data Stewardship (SDS) program, and then asked NRC to review it. The new program will be responsible for processing, archiving, and distributing observations from satellite and supporting ground-based platforms for monitoring, diagnosing, understanding, predicting, modeling, and assessing climate variation and change. The NRC review outlines several ways in which to improve NOAA's draft plan, most importantly by clarifying advisory mechanisms, providing more detail about how NOAA will coordinate with important partners in generating CDRs, articulating how the program will prioritize its activities, and developing ways to realistically project future costs. However, the draft plan is sound overall and NOAA should immediately begin implementing the SDS program while revising the plan as recommended in the report.

Key Messages

  • Draft 3.1 of the SDS Implementation Plan is sound and comprehensive.
  • NOAA should immediately begin implementing the program while revising it along the lines of the recommendations in this report.
  • The committee has identified several ways in which to improve the program plan, most importantly by clarifying advisory mechanisms, providing more detail about how NOAA will coordinate with important partners in generating CDRs, articulating how the program will prioritize its activities, and developing ways to realistically project future costs.