Nationwide Network of Networks–Now Is the Time for Your Input

by George Frederick, Chair, AMS Ad Hoc Committee on Network of Networks
Today’s Town Hall (WSCC 606, 12:15-1:15 pm) on the Nationwide Network of Networks (NNoN) coincides with the availability of a draft report by our committee, available online for comment and review.
The report is a result of the AMS’s intensive response to the 2009 National Research Council (NRC) report entitled, Observing the Weather and Climate FROM THE GROUND UP A Nationwide Network of Networks. It summarized the work of a committee of the NRC’s Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate charged with developing “…an overarching vision for an integrated, flexible, adaptive, and multi-purpose mesoscale meteorological observation network….”  In “… identifying specific steps…that meet(s) multiple national needs…” the committee was given five guidelines:

  • Characterize the current state of mesoscale observations and purposes;
  • Compare the US mesoscale atmospheric observing system to other observing system benchmarks
  • Describe desirable attributes of an integrated national mesoscale observing system;
  • Identify steps to enhance and extend mesoscale meteorological observing capabilities so they meet multiple national needs; and
  • Recommend practical steps to transform and modernize current, limited mesoscale meteorological observing capabilities to better meet the needs of a broad range of users and improve cost effectiveness.

The committee focused on the planetary boundary layer extending from 2 meters below the surface to 2-3 kilometers above in the United States, including coastal zones.  Forecast time scales ranged up to 48 hours.  It considered the roles of federal, state and local governments as well as the private sector.  The goal was to guide development of “an integrated, multipurpose national mesoscale observation network.”

In reaction to the NRC report the AMS formed an ad hoc committee under its Commission on the Weather and Climate Enterprise to address the report’s recommendations and provide venues for community discussion and response.  The committee launched its effort at the AMS Community Meeting in Norman, Oklahoma, in August 2009.  Subsequently, six working groups have been busy addressing the recommendations in the NRC report.
The committee shares the vision of the NRC study, in which, ultimately, a “central authority” is required for the success of any nationwide network of networks. Traditional public-private-academic relationships will need to adjust to this new way of doing business—this will be a challenge for the entire community.
Other key recommendations include

  • A stakeholder’s summit should be convened at an early date to foment the NNoN initiative and continue the momentum achieved to date.  Implementation plans should be a follow-on result of this summit.
  • As funding for a NNoN will be a challenge, an implementation strategy should be developed that prioritizes systems based on their economic benefits; e.g., it was evident that systems to improve observations of the earth’s boundary layer would benefit multiple users (wind energy, aviation, forecasting onset of convective activity) and should be given a high priority.
  • Ongoing R&D and treating all networks (new and old) as perennial testbeds will be essential to success in constantly assessing and improving the member networks of the NNoN and developing new and innovative methods for observing earth’s boundary layer.
  • That the NNoN adopt the Unidata Local Data Manager to provide the communications backbone for the NNoN.
  • Metadata will be mandatory for applying data from the NNoN, and a combination of ISO 19115-2 and SensorML is recommended for the NNoN’s adopted metadata standards. Minimal and recommended sets of metadata elements should be adopted and well documented by the NNoN
  • The human dimension must be considered when developing the NNoN and is key to engaging stakeholders and network operators as the market is developed.  User assessments and education will be key parts of this effort.