Day 1 of the AMS Washington Forum provides a look at where things stand – with the Congress and with federal agencies, and with two major national initiatives. The first – the National Climate Assessment – challenges government, the private sector, and academia to characterize likely climate impacts on America in coming years. The second seeks to modernize federal support and infrastructure for commercial and general aviation, including aviation weather services. Quite a range!
And yet, Day 2 promises to broaden further this look to the future – both where we might be headed, and how we might get there.
All federal agencies look forward, but perhaps nowhere in government is foresight more necessary than within the White House proper. Wednesday morning’s Forum thus begins with perspectives from OMB and OSTP. The two offices are most effective when they can work in unison. OSTP, though small, has a unique vantage point with respect to science trends and opportunities, while OMB marshalling of resources will be needed to make vision a reality.
And just as the White House works best when its agencies can and do coordinate their work, the nation works best when government, private enterprise and research universities collaborate. It’s not surprising, then, to find universities, government laboratories, and companies exploring new ways to accelerate putting science to work for societal benefit. Some call this technology transfer, some think in terms of product development, some use the term “incubation,” but the idea is the same…solving tomorrow’s problems with tomorrow’s technology – not yesterday’s.
Wednesday’s second morning session takes a look at some of the more promising new starts. The innovations are of interest in and of themselves. One example? Global carbon monitoring, at the level and specificity require for attribution of sources and sinks. Who’s emitting carbon? Which countries? Which industries? Where is carbon being taken up? But it shouldn’t be surprising to find that these new tasks are also spawning fresh institutions that explore the boundaries between private interest and public good.
Wednesday afternoon’s first session looks at yet another arena that tests the scientific and engineering chops of our community and our ability to innovate organizationally. The topic? Offshore renewable energy. You thought wind farms for electrical power generation were a challenge? Try doing it out to sea – on an ocean that tries to batter, dissolve, and eat anything and everything out there. And yet – the offshore resource is appealing both because of its large scale and because of the winds’ high speeds and relative constancy in many parts of the world. The opportunity and need are too compelling to be ignored.
The afternoon closes with a look at climate science and services from the users’ perspective. Demand for climate information is growing rapidly as all sectors of society discover its implicit role in their affairs, and contemplate what climate change and variability imply for their future prospects. Here as in other arenas, the appetite for useful knowledge is prompting the emergence of large numbers of individuals and small organizations who bridge, connect, and interpret the contributions and actions of the conventional public-, private-, and academic players. The field is growing rapidly. The diversity of the players is too great to allow more than a briefest sampling. But that quick taste is intriguing!
Oh – and that lunch break will also be providing food for thought, as the Weather Coalition describes its efforts to work with both chambers of the Congress and both parties to establish a Weather Caucus.