Reflections on the 2013 AMS Summer Community Meeting

The AMS just concluded its 2013 Summer Community Meeting on August 15th. You can find more information on the sessions, agenda, etc. here. The meeting has continued a welcome ten-year trend. As communication among the major sectors (public, private, and academic) of the Weather and Climate Enterprise has improved, the discussion has turned to specifics of working together in arenas ranging from weather services to the renewable energy sector and transportation, to advancing numerical weather prediction, formulating joint research efforts… and more than can be captured in a brief post. Attendance was high; there was some federal agency presence despite the sequestration and associated travel restrictions. This dialog and its positive vector owe much to the recommendations of the NAS/NRC Fair Weather Report of 2003. We are all indebted to the NAS/NRC and the committee that articulated just such a vision. Hopefully this post and the next few will offer very brief commentary on some particulars of the discussion.

One idea that surfaced and resurfaced several times and in several forms was that our community could use more attention to standards and best practices. Institutions and individuals can offer weather apps and other products and services, but potential customers and users have few resources to gauge the utility and quality of what is on offer. The analogy to Consumer Reports came up. For years, in both print and online forms, Consumer Reports has rated automobiles, appliances, and every other conceivable product and service, while maintaining high standards and a solid reputation.

To a large extent, however, social media and the Internet make it difficult and perhaps even Quixotic in to contemplate single, definitive, rating services. The new reality is that 21st-century consumers find themselves swimming in an information soup of every description with regard to the world around them. They’re not going to adopt a single source.

One meeting participant cited the example of NIH as a better route to follow. NIH provides advice for cancer patients selecting a doctor: principles to use in the selection process, and questions to ask the doctor. The weather and climate enterprise might do well to consider a similar approach.

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One Response to Reflections on the 2013 AMS Summer Community Meeting

  1. Rob Dale says:

    Thanks for the recap! I’m curious how the discussion went on the AMS Blog posted when the meeting started, suggesting that the NWS stop doing forecasts and instead buying forecasts from the private sector. What was the general feeling of the attendees?

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