Fulfilling the Vision of Weather, Water, and Climate Information for Every Need, Time, and Place

A tall order? That’s AMS President Bill Gail’s theme for the 95th AMS Annual Meeting getting underway here in Phoenix, Arizona. Here is an (extended) excerpt:

“People, businesses, and government agencies depend increasingly on weather, water, and climate information matched to their specific needs, delivered when and where it is most useful to them. Businesses already receive just-in-time weather information to make truck routes more efficient and wind turbines more productive. Consumers optimize their daily routines around rain or severe weather. Such information increasingly factors into broad issues such as healthcare, as collaboration teams are discovering new ways to apply weather and climate information to advance preparedness. We are converging on a day when such information is embedded – often implicitly – within nearly every decision or action people take. New requirements and innovative use cases emerge almost daily. Yet the revolution in how weather, water, and climate information gets used is just beginning. It will make our lives safer, more productive, and more enjoyable – and produce billions of dollars of enhanced economic growth through reduced losses and improved economic productivity.

To enable this user revolution, the information we provide will be by necessity of higher quality, more customized to individual needs, and finely-tuned for each time and place of interest. Advances in observational systems, computational modeling, dissemination tools, and basic science can help make this possible. So can a growing cohesiveness of our multi-faceted community. Many challenging problems – in both research and applications – remain to be solved if we are to succeed. Further improvement to the collaboration and data sharing among our public, private, and academic/research sectors (and the disciplines within them) will also be required.

The challenge for our community is this: collaborate and innovate to develop – and ultimately deliver – actionable, user-specific weather, water, and climate information across spatial and temporal scales in support of our nation’s safety, health, and prosperity.”[1]

Today’s sessions open with the 15th Presidential Forum:

“Twenty five years hence, meteorology will be much different and expand far beyond the traditional weather forecast. Personal sensors will monitor weather nearly everywhere. Advanced computing will allow us to forecast at perhaps minute scales and kilometer resolutions, customized for each particular user. Post-mobile devices will enable instantaneous use of the information – even in remote areas of today’s developing nations. Transportation will be safer, businesses will operate more efficiently, events will automatically schedule around anticipated weather, and much more. Operational weather forecasts will be interlaced with new environmental elements that impact economic, health, energy, and security decisions. Many aspects of our daily lives will change forever. Climate change’s possibilities add a critical dimension to community resiliency. Should global weather patterns be altered, forecasting could become more challenging than today. The recent release of the fifth IPCC synthesis report has brought focus to this particular issue. Dr. Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA Administrator, will lead the session with a keynote on her vision for the meteorology enterprise in the year 2040. Following her keynote, the panelists – representing different demographics and perspectives – will then provide their vision, accompanied by a moderated discussion among the panelists.”

Kimberley Klockow of NOAA will moderate the panel. Other panelists include, in addition to Kathryn Sullivan, NOAA: Bernadette Woods Placky, Climate Central; Mac Devine, IBM Cloud Services Division; and Curtis L. Walker, University of Nebraska.

If you’re here in Phoenix, get yourself going promptly and be part of the discussion in person. Not able to attend? There should be an on-line version available down the road.

But don’t settle for just being in the room. Formulating such views of the future isn’t intended to be a spectator sport. Each of us should actively participate. Take some time during this meeting and in the weeks ahead to formulate your own view, identify your piece of the action, and then dedicate yourself to fulfilling that vision over the next decade or so. After all it’s early January, a time for such resolutions.

And while you’re at it, ask yourself: What larger societal trends could foster or threaten such a vision of Weather, Water, and Climate Information for Every Need, Time, and Place?

Here are a few thoughts to set you thinking: This vision assumes that America (and the world) continues to develop a culture of innovation. That means more than just passive acceptance of the idea. It means vigorous, purposeful, sustained strategic investment in innovation across a broad spectrum of the world’s agenda. (Stop right there: all adjectives of the previous sentence matter; take a moment to reflect on each.) And this is not just about money. It means that innovation can’t become a political football. It can’t be relegated to an agenda for only one party or one half of the American people. And finally, it must be backed by a publication education system up to the task. This starts with STEM education but doesn’t stop there. The need is for an educational system that contributes to a public actively and thoughtfully engaged in a strong representative/participatory democracy.

Worth working toward.


[1] The remainder of the theme material focuses on execution and implementation.

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