Eulerian Weather, Lagrangian Lives

by Alan E. Stewart, University of Georgia

It is clear that Covid-19 will be with us for a while. So will the weather, however. We’ve been through flooding in Michigan in mid-May; an outbreak of 140 tornadoes from Texas to Maryland in April; a deadly and destructive derecho in Iowa; hurricane landfalls in Louisiana, Alabama, and Florida; and massive wildfires in the West. In other words, the weather, as always, just is—it exists and occurs as a series of events that intertwine with the activities and challenges of our daily lives. Here, I would like to borrow from dynamic meteorology and apply the concepts of the Eulerian and Lagrangian perspectives to discuss our experiential journeys through the weather and Covid-19. I also will query what this means for how we cope when severe weather threatens us during this pandemic.

From the Eulerian perspective, we depict the current weather or make a forecast for a given space (county warning area, city, state, region) for a time (6 hours, 12 hours, and so on). We concern ourselves with what will occur inside the grid boxes of a model—what is the flux of weather into and out of the area? Similarly, when we look out of the windows of our life-spaces we see and experience the weather. And what is so striking about what we see is that most of the time the weather seems within its usual seasonal limits—climatologically speaking. The weather is often pleasant. It seems not to have gotten the message about Covid-19.

How could it? The weather just is. Some people have told me that during the pandemic, the closures, and the quarantines, the weather is about the only thing that has remained normal in their lives—and this has provided some degree of comfort. But with a wildfire or a hurricane, this can change quickly. Some of the same states that are threatened by hurricane landfall already have been ravaged by Covid-19.

We can think of peoples’ paths through the meteorological and nonmeteorological events in their lives with the Lagrangian perspective—metaphorically speaking. Life is a journey, a narrative, a path or a force that moves forward in time; sometimes the trajectory changes unexpectedly. The Lagrangian perspective involves the accumulated experiences of the weather through the eyes of the perceivers— individual people. Such Lagrangian living with or “under” the weather builds a corpus of weather experiences that subtly or sometimes significantly changes peoples’ subsequent responses to the weather . All of us are, to varying extents, products of what we have experienced, including the Covid-19 pandemic. So many people—in Michigan, Iowa, California, Louisiana, and elsewhere—have experienced life with both Covid-19 and disaster and displacement.

In dynamic meteorology we learn to use both the Eulerian and Lagrangian perspectives; we segue between the two to build a fuller understanding of the atmosphere. What might we learn and what questions arise when we juxtapose my uses of these perspectives? These are timely questions to consider as we deal with hurricanes, winter storms, and other weather threats during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Trust of Message Sources: During the Covid-19 pandemic, different state and federal agencies often have issued confusing, sometimes contradictory reports and recommendations about the virus. How have peoples’ experiences of this messaging affected the ways that they may receive and act upon forecasts, watches, and warnings for severe/extreme weather? How might weather-related messages from local emergency managers or health departments be received? To what extent has the trust in the weather enterprise been affected by pandemic-related messaging?

Risk Perception and Tolerance: People have dealt with multiple risks thus far during the pandemic: health, economic/financial, social, and psychological, among others. Have the experiences of these risks affected how people perceive additional risks from thunderstorms, tornadoes, floods, and hurricanes? Because people may have successfully survived an infection with Covid-19, does this affect how they perceive their risks to natural hazards? Do some people feel lucky? Because people may be more desperate for work or to keep a job, might they take additional risks to do their jobs during bad weather? Might some businesses take extra risks in bad weather to build a competitive advantage—to make up for past losses?

Preparation: As word of the pandemic spread, people in many places stocked up on consumables for daily living, leading to shortages of some items. Given how the pandemic has unfolded in different parts of the country, are people still prepared? Have they exhausted those supplies and are people fatigued from stocking up? Are suppliers ready for further waves of Covid-19 and/or a major hurricane landfall? Has stocking up and preparing made people more ready for severe weather? Is there a new appreciation for being prepared for the unexpected?

Sheltering in Place: Some severe weather events involve sheltering in place. Given the extensive sheltering in many places in the spring because of Covid-19, would some prefer to shelter in place rather than risk Covid-19 exposure elsewhere? Alternatively, would some be less likely to shelter in place because they are fatigued from it?

Evacuation Planning: Important questions involve what happens when evacuations are necessary: For example, how can the spread of Covid-19 infection be limited? Are separate shelters needed for those who are infected? How does social distancing work in the close quarters of a shelter? Are more shelters needed? Do the existing shelters have a supply of face masks and other personal protective equipment?

Interdisciplinary social and atmospheric science points to an ever-motivating realization: Often it is not simply a matter of providing a timely and accurate forecast, but it is what people do with the information they have that affects the outcomes. This is unsettling because it is often out of the direct control of the weather enterprise—much as epidemiologists and physicians cannot control how people deal with the risks of Covid-19. Efforts to communicate effectively, educate, and persuade stakeholders about the weather take on great importance. Forecasts and warnings are absorbed by people who have experienced the varying and cumulative effects of Covid-19. Being mindful of this reality may help us to better prepare people and communities.




The Observationalist


Editor’s note:  Whether you’re in isolation or reemerging, we hope this guest column feels like a perfectly meteorological way to reconnect with the world. Read Mike’s full blog post here and more of his photos here. Above: Corona and wave clouds.

by H. Michael Mogil, CCM, CBM

First there wa“The Mentalist,” the hit CBS series that focused on Patrick Jane’s (played by Simon Baker) ability to use his mind to find clues, piece them together and, in the process, mess with the minds of others.

Now comes “The Observationalist,” played by yours truly.

I didn’t assume the role. Rather, Joseph Williams Jr.  assigned it.  Williams was a counselor and science assistant at Howard University’s summer 2009 weather camp and I was the camp’s director. Williams caught me “observing everything around me—bricks on walls, sidewalks, people, and especially the clouds.”  Shortly after giving me my alter ego, Williams started becoming an observationalist himself.  He told me that he had never looked up to see the clouds (even though he was a graduate chemistry major).

In fact, developing keen observational skills is what most detective shows and movies are all about.  The key questions are: “What do you see?” and, more importantly, “What DOESN’T fit?” What doesn’t fit is typically out of place for a reason (usually, but not always, related to the crime).

I don’t solve too many mysteries in real life (although I do get involved a bit as an expert witness in event reconstruction for weather-related lawsuits).  But as a practicing meteorologist, I have to always look for weather-related clues in the clouds, radar and satellite images and even computer model weather forecasts.

In a similar sense, my wife and I operate a math-tutoring center in Naples, FL.  Here we emphasize that solving math problems is much like solving a crime.  What information is there, how do the pieces fit together, who did it (a.k.a., the answer)?  The numbers have patterns that beg to be discovered.  My goal is to have everyone be better observers.

Most other professions require keen observational skills (although they are often not emphasized). Football quarterbacks have to be consummate observers to scan the field and find an open receiver. Artists have to “see” their world in order to paint it.

But one doesn’t need a career to be an observationalist. Just look at patterns in our natural world. For example, I love the banded patterns in many cloud types and the patterns within flower heads and waves at the beach. Take me on a road trip through the Desert Southwest and I am in awe at the rock formations that grace the landscape.

And, I ALWAYS grab a window seat on the airplane. After all, it is the closest I will ever come to being an astronaut, so why not observe the Earth as most others do not?

I am not sure where and when I became an observationalist. But, I know I was already one at nine years old (that’s back in 1954). I recall watching from my New York City apartment window as several hurricanes blew past. I also watched winter cloud lines march southward down the Hudson River. These observational experiences clearly pushed me over the brink and into a weather career.

Yogi Berra really nailed it when he said, “You can observe a lot by just watching.” You really can!

© 2011 H. Michael Mogil (updated 2020)

COVID-19 and the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise

by Mary Glackin, AMS President

In normal times, our thousands of AMS professionals and colleagues are completely dedicated to helping people make the best possible weather-, water-, and climate-related decisions. In this COVID-19 period, were not just providing critical information; we are also receiving it. We are each of us following guidance from public health experts and local officials so that we can keep ourselves, our families, and our friends safe and well. We’re joining in the national and global efforts to “flatten the curve.”

amsseal-blueWe all continue to work, but these duties are now competing with new ones: caring for children who would normally be in school, searching for basic necessities that would routinely be in stock on supermarket shelves, protecting elderly friends and family members. With campuses and laboratories shut down, professors and students have scrambled to adjust to online teaching and reimagining plans for field experiments. Nonetheless, critical weather and hydrologic services are provided with sharp eyes for spring floods and convective weather. Preparations for the coming hurricane season are moving forward.

COVID-19 doesn’t “slightly tweak” the task of building a Weather-Ready Nation; it completely rearranges the landscape. Goals of shelter-in-place and evacuation have to be reconfigured for a world where we are advised by health experts to maintain physical separation from others—more than a challenge in a communal evacuation center.

COVID-19 provides a unique learning opportunity for all of us in the Enterprise. We can experience firsthand how even the best-intended top-down risk communication can sound to someone in harm’s way—and step up our own communications accordingly.

Finally, it’s worth noting as AMS embarks on its second century that our founding coincided with the 1918-19 influenza pandemic. The link between weather, water, climate, and public health (enshrined in the AMS seal) has been integral to building a sustainable and resilient world, and it will likely play a larger role in the future.

Thank you for maintaining essential services and supporting research and education during such a critical, difficult time. Stay well, and stay safe—and at the same time, stay focused, on our contributions to a safer, healthier world.

Beyond Leadership to Mentorship: An Opportunity for Early Career Professionals

by Mona Behl, Georgia Sea Grant
Guru-shishya parampara is a centuries-old tradition in India that fosters a thoughtful exchange of ideas, expertise, and friendship between a guru (teacher) and shishya (student). The relationship between a guru and a shishya is an emotional, spiritual, and intellectual friendship built on the foundation of trust, respect and commitment.
I got the opportunity to reflect on guru-shishya parampara during a panel discussion led by the AMS Board for Early Career Professionals. The session – “The Early Career Leadership Academy: Beyond Leadership to Mentorship” — aimed to reflect on the 2018 AMS Early Career Leadership Academy (ECLA), address leadership issues in the workplace and provide mentorship to students and early career individuals. Facilitated by my dear friend and colleague, Brad Johnson, the panel discussion featured Chris Vagasky from Vaisala, Kimberly Wood from Mississippi State University, and Alan Sealls from WKRG-TV. Brad, Chris, and Kim are all alumni of the inaugural class of 2018 AMS ECLA. What follows is a brief summary of what I learned from the panel discussion, and I hope it encourages you to consider applying for the 2019 AMS ECLA–the deadline is coming up fast.
Mentorship is friendship. Over time, this relationship develops organically. You may not realize the role that mentors have played in your life until several years later, when you reflect on your experiences and think about the people who have guided you, supported you, and rooted for you, all along.
Mentors come into our lives in various relationships. Some mentors are individuals who are more experienced and have more knowledge than you. Others are colleagues who may be at the same career stage as you. Parents, teachers, siblings, and even friends could all be mentors. Sometimes mentorship can be established in a structured manner. It needn’t be sought only from individuals who enjoy a high-profile career or are well established. Everybody has something valuable to offer. At any stage of your career, you are both a mentor and mentee.
Communication is the key to a good mentoring relationship. Assessing the effectiveness and impact of communication in a mentorship is equally important. An effective mentor gives wise counsel, and the mentee feels comfortable speaking on issues that may be sensitive. Shared vulnerability between two individuals nurtures trust and builds honest mentoring relationships. However, being vulnerable also means taking a risk of harm, which you need to acknowledge and understand. You also need to know when to walk away from that relationship.
Mentoring is a skill that can be developed over time through practice, participation, and partnership. Many individuals who wish to be mentors are confronted with imposter syndrome. Overcoming the imposter syndrome might entail developing a network of peers and colleagues who are able to provide validation, guidance, and support, when needed. If you feel like an imposter, chances are that others in your situation feel the same way.
It is also important to acknowledge the benefits of being a novice in mentorship and recognize opportunities presented by failure. Confronting failure and acknowledging that you don’t know everything isn’t proof that you are worthless. It is an opportunity to grow. Cultivating a mindset of learning instead of performance allows you to view your limitations as growth opportunities thereby catalyzing self-improvement. Extending opportunities to others so that they too can learn and grow builds confidence and generates greater benefits for society.
Mentorship is a doorway to complete transformation for both the guru and shishya. Done right, mentoring can benefit both: you get a chance to share your experiences, learn about challenges and opportunities that you aren’t aware of, and uncover ways of doing things differently.
ECLA is designed to be a transformative peer-to-peer mentoring experience for early career leaders in weather, water, and climate science professions. As a result of the Academy, ECLA alumni have been able to take calculated risks in their lives, connect with colleagues in similar career phases, and acquire affective skills that are usually not taught in traditional academic setting. Most importantly, ECLA participants have been able to build deep and meaningful relationships with a diverse group of peers who support and advocate for one another, lead their organizations through uncertain times, and inspire change.
Mentoring changed my life for the better and I sincerely wish that it transforms your life too. Please consider applying for the a place in the next AMS Early Leadership Academy. The application deadline is 8 March 2019; the Academy, including regular webinars, begins in April and leads to a meeting at Stone Mountain, Georgia, on 24-26 July. From there, the program continues onward with guru-shishya parampara.

GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair Seeking Entries From Students

by Margaret Mooney, CIMSS
NOAA’s Cooperative Institute for Meteorological Satellite Studies (CIMSS) in Madison Wisconsin is pleased to announce a virtual science fair for students from grades 6-14 applying GOES-16 or GOES-17 data to investigate weather scenarios and natural hazards.
‘Pleased’ is probably too mild of a word to describe our enthusiasm around this project. Madison is after all, the birthplace of satellite meteorology and CIMSS founder Verner Suomi is widely known as the “Father of Satellite Meteorology.”  Recent launches of the GOES-R, NOAA-20 and GOES-S satellites have made our building a very exciting to place to work! Our goal, and motivation, is to share our passion for GOES-R series data as broadly as possible.
One way to reach students is through the spring 2019 virtual science fair, part of “The GOES-R Education Proving Ground” at CIMSS. A key element of this effort, from the get-go, has been a core group of educators working with CIMSS in close coordination NOAA scientists.
GOES proving ground educators
Above: The original GOES-R Education Proving Ground Team from 2014 – from left to right: John Moore, Tim Schmit (NOAA), Margaret Mooney (CIMSS), Vicky Gorman, Peter Dorofy, Craig Phillips, Brian Whittun, Amy Monahan, and Charlotte Besse.
Most of the original teachers have rotated out of the core group. And sadly, Charlotte Besse, a Florida teacher, has since died of cancer – but not before attending the 2016 GOES-R launch with her family in tow!
A major perk for winners of the GOES-16/17 Virtual Science Fair will be official GOES-T launch invites.   Students will also receive $25 gift cards. Teachers coaching the winning teams will garner launch invites (no travel support) and conference travel support to attend and present at the 2020 American Meteorological Society (AMS) Centennial meeting in Boston.
There will be three winning teams: middle school, high school and grades 13/14 (community college or university). GOES-R Educators from five different states will judge the science fair entries. We will be accepting entries between March 1st through May 3rd, 2019. Guidelines, scoring rubrics and other supporting resources are all on-line at
Please share with your favorite educator!

Building AMS Community, Maximizing Value of Our Information

by Douglas Hilderbrand, Chair, AMS Board on Enterprise Communication
Early August seems forever ago. Hurricanes Maria, Irma, and Harvey were only faint ripples in the atmosphere. The nation was getting increasingly excited for the solar eclipse of 2017; the biggest weather question was where clear skies were expected later in the month.
During this brief period of calm in an otherwise highly impactful weather year, leaders and future leaders from the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise gathered together at the AMS Summer Community Meeting in Madison, Wisconsin, to better understand how “The Enterprise” could work in more meaningful, collaborative ways to best serve communities across the country and the world. Consisting of government, industry, and the academic sector, the Enterprise plays a vital role in protecting lives, minimizing impacts from extreme events, and enhancing the American economy.
The AMS Summer Community Meeting is a unique time when the three sectors learn more about each other, about physical and social science advances, and discuss collaboration opportunities.  Strengthening relationships across the Enterprise results in collaborations on joint efforts, coordination in ways that improve communication and consistency in message, and discussion of issues on which those in the room may not always see eye-to-eye. Every summer, one theme always rises to the top — the three sectors that make up the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise are stronger when working together vs. “everyone for themselves.”
This “true-ism” becomes most evident during extreme events, such as the trifecta of devastating hurricanes to impact communities from Texas to Florida to Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands. The AMS Summer Community Meeting (full program and recorded presentations now available) featured experts on weather satellites, radar-based observations, applications that bring together various datasets, communications, and even the science behind decision making. As Hurricanes Harvey, Irma, and Maria formed, strengthened, and tracked toward land, relevant topics discussed at the Summer Community Meeting were applied under the most urgent of circumstances. GOES-16 images, though currently “preliminary and non-operational,” delivered jaw-dropping imagery and critical information to forecasters. As Harvey’s predicted rainfall totals created a dire flooding threat, the entire Enterprise rallied together to set the expectation that the flooding in eastern Texas and southwestern Louisiana would be “catastrophic and life threatening.”  This consistency and forceful messaging likely saved countless lives — partially due to the Enterprise coming together a month before Harvey to stress the importance of consistency in messaging during extreme events.
If you are unfamiliar with the AMS Summer Community Meeting, and are interested in participating in the summer of 2018, take some time and click on the recorded presentations over the past few years (2017, 2016, 2015).  In 2016, the Enterprise met in Tuscaloosa, Alabama, home of NOAA’s National Water Center, and discussed recent advances in water forecasting and the launch of the National Water Model.  A year earlier, in Raleigh, NC, future advances across the entire end-to-end warning paradigm were discussed.
We don’t know when or what the next big challenge will be for the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise, but a few things are certain… The state of our science — both physical and social —  will be tested. Communities will be counting on us to help keep them safe. And to maximize the value chain across the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise, we will need government, industry, and academia continuing to work together and rely on each other. These certainties aren’t going away and provide the impetus for you to consider participating in future AMS Summer Community Meetings.

Disaster Do-Overs

Ready to do it all over again? Fresh on the heels of a $100+ billion hurricane, we very well may be headed for another soon.
As Houston and the Gulf Coast begin a long recovery from Hurricane Harvey, Hurricane Irma is now rampaging through the Atlantic. With 185 m.p.h. sustained winds on Tuesday, Irma became the strongest hurricane in Atlantic history outside of the Caribbean and Gulf. The hurricane made its first landfall early Wednesday in Barbuda and still threatens the Virgin Islands, Puerto Rico, Cuba, and the United States.
If Irma continues along the general path of 1960’s Hurricane Donna, it could easily tally $50 billion in damage. This estimate, from a study by Karen Clark and Co. (discussed recently on Category 6 Blog), is already four years old (i.e., too low). Increased building costs—which the report notes rise “much faster” than inflation–and continued development could drive recovery costs even higher.
In short, as bad as Houston is suffering, there are do-overs on the horizon—a magnitude of repeated damage costs unthinkable not long ago, before Katrina ($160 million) and Sandy ($70 million).
Repeated megadisasters yield lessons, some of them specific to locale and circumstances. In Miami after Hurricane Andrew, the focus was on building codes as well as the variability of the winds within the storms. After Hurricane Rita, the focus was on improving policies on evacuation. After Hurricane Katrina, while the emergency management community reevaluated its response, the weather community took stock of the whole warnings process. It was frustrating to see that, even with good forecasts, more than a thousand people lost their lives. How could observations and models improve? How could the message be clarified?
Ten years after Katrina, the 2016 AMS Annual Meeting in New Orleans convened a symposium on the lessons of that storm and of the more recent Hurricane Sandy (2012). A number of experts weighed in on progress since 2005. It was clear that challenges remained. Shuyi Chen of the University of Miami, for example, highlighted the need for forecasts of the impacts of weather, not just of the weather itself. She urged the community to base those impacts forecasts on model-produced quantitative uncertainty estimates. She also noted the need for observations to initialize and check models that predict storm surge, which in turn feeds applications for coastal and emergency managers and planners. She noted that such efforts must expand beyond typical meteorological time horizons, incorporating sea level rise and other changes due to climate change.
These life-saving measures are part accomplished and part underway—the sign of a vigorous science enterprise. Weather forecasters continue to hone their craft with so many do-overs. Some mistakes recur. As NOAA social scientist Vankita Brown told the AMS audience about warnings messages at the 2016 Katrina symposium, “Consistency was a problem; not everyone was on the same page.”  Katrina presented a classic problem where the intensity of the storm, as measured in the oft-communicated Saffir-Simpson rating, was not the key to catastrophe in New Orleans. Mentioning categories can actually create confusion. And again, in Hurricane Harvey this was part of the problem with conveying the threat of the rainfall, not just the wind or storm surge. Communications expert Gina Eosco noted that talk about Harvey being “downgraded” after landfall drowned out the critical message about floods.
Hurricane Harvey poses lessons that are more fundamental than the warnings process itself and are eerily reminiscent of the Hurricane Katrina experience: There’s the state of coastal wetlands, of infrastructure; of community resilience before emergency help can arrive. Houston, like New Orleans before it, will be considering development practices, concentrations of vulnerable populations, and more. There are no quick fixes.
In short, as AMS Associate Executive Director William Hooke observes, both storms challenge us to meet the same basic requirement:

The lessons of Houston are no different from the lessons of New Orleans. As a nation, we have to give priority to putting Houston and Houstonians, and others, extending from Corpus Christi to Beaumont and Port Arthur, back on their feet. We can’t afford to rebuild just as before. We have to rebuild better.

All of these challenges, simple or complex, stem from an underlying issue that the Weather Channel’s Bryan Norcross emphatically delineated when evaluating the Katrina experience back in 2007 at an AMS Annual Meeting in San Antonio:

This is the bottom line, and I think all of us in this business should think about this:  The distance between the National Hurricane Center’s understanding of what’s going to happen in a given community and the general public’s is bigger than ever. What happens every time we have a hurricane—every time–is most people are surprised by what happens. Anybody who’s been through this knows that. People in New Orleans were surprised [by Katrina], people in Miami were surprised by Wilma, people [in Texas] were surprised by Rita, and every one of these storms; but the National Hurricane Center is very rarely surprised. They envision what will happen and indeed something very close to that happens. But when that message gets from their minds to the people’s brains at home, there is a disconnect and that disconnect is increasing. It’s not getting less.

Solve that, and facing the next hurricane, and the next, will get a little easier. The challenge is the same every time, and it is, to a great extent, ours. As Norcross pointed out, “If the public is confused, it’s not their fault.”
Hurricanes Harvey and Katrina caused catastrophic floods for different reasons. Ten years from now we may gather as a weather community and enumerate unique lessons of Harvey’s incredible deluge of rain. But the bottom line will be a common challenge: In Hurricane Harvey, like Katrina, a city’s–indeed, a nation’s–entire way of dealing with the inevitable was exposed. Both New Orleans and Houston were disasters waiting to happen, and neither predicament was a secret.
Meteorologists are constantly getting do-overs, like Irma. Sooner or later, Houston will get one, too.

Withdrawal from the Paris Agreement Flouts the Climate Risks

by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director
President Trump’s speech announcing the U.S. withdrawal from the Paris Climate Agreement emphasizes his assessment of the domestic economic risks of making commitments to climate action. In doing so the President plainly ignores so many other components of the risk calculus that went into the treaty in the first place.
There are, of course, political risks, such as damaging our nation’s diplomatic prestige and relinquishing the benefits of leadership in global economic, environmental, or security matters. But from a scientific viewpoint, it is particularly troubling that the President’s claims cast aside the extensively studied domestic and global economic, health, and ecological risks of inaction on climate change.
President Trump put it quite bluntly: “We will see if we can make a deal that’s fair. And if we can, that’s great. And if we can’t, that’s fine.”
The science emphatically tells us that it is not fine if we can’t. The American Meteorological Society Statement on Climate Change warns that it is “imperative that society respond to a changing climate.” National policies are not enough — the Statement clearly endorses international action to ensure adaptation to, and mitigation of, the ongoing, predominately human-caused change in climate.
In his speech, the President made a clear promise “… to be the cleanest and most environmentally friendly country on Earth … to have the cleanest air … to have the cleanest water.” AMS members have worked long and hard to enable such conditions both in our country and throughout the world. We are ready to provide the scientific expertise the nation will need to realize these goals. AMS members are equally ready to provide the scientific foundation for this nation to thrive as a leader in renewable energy technology and production, as well as to prepare for, respond to, and recover from nature’s most dangerous storms, floods, droughts, and other hazards.
Environmental aspirations, however, that call on some essential scientific capabilities but ignore others are inevitably misguided. AMS members have been instrumental in producing the sound body of scientific evidence that helps characterize the risks of unchecked climate change. The range of possibilities for future climate—built upon study after study—led the AMS Statement to conclude, “Prudence dictates extreme care in accounting for our relationship with the only planet known to be capable of sustaining human life.”
This is the science-based risk calculus upon which our nation’s climate change policy should be based. It is a far more realistic, informative, and actionable perspective than the narrow accounting the President provided in the Rose Garden. It is the science that the President abandoned in his deeply troubling decision.

Washington Forum to Explore Working with the New Administration

by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director
The AMS Washington Forum, held each spring, is organized by the Board on Enterprise Economic Development within the Commission on the Weather, Water, and Climate Enterprise. It brings together leaders from the public, private, and academic sectors for productive dialogue on issues of relevance to the weather, water, and climate enterprise in this country. Compared to our scientific conferences, it is a small meeting with typically a little more than 100 participants. This allows for a meeting dominated by rich discussion rather than presentations. The Forum takes advantage of being held in Washington, D.C., with panel discussions featuring congressional and executive branch staff, as well as agency leadership. It is no secret that this is one of my favorite meetings of the year, and for many in the atmospheric and related sciences community, the Washington Forum has become a “can’t miss” event on their calendar.
The 2017 Washington Forum will be held May 2–4, 2017 at the AAAS Building, 1200 New York Avenue, Washington, DC. (Note that this year’s Forum occurs later in the year than usual.) The organizing committee has put together an outstanding program again this year under the timely, and perhaps provocative, theme: “Evolving Our Enterprise: Working Together with the New Administration in a New Collaborative Era.” The transition to a new administration is bringing changes in department and agency leadership that directly impact our community. The Forum will provide a terrific opportunity to explore how the community can collaboratively navigate these changes in ways to ensure continued advancement of the science and services for the benefit of the nation. I am expecting three days of very lively discussion.
We have a special treat this year in conjunction with the Forum. On the afternoon before the Forum formally begins, Monday, May 1, the Forum location at the AAAS Building will host the second Annual Dr. James R. Mahoney Memorial Lecture. The lecture honors the legacy of Mahoney (1938–2015), AMS past-president and a leader in the environmental field in both the public and private sectors, having worked with more than 50 nations and served as NOAA Deputy Administrator in addition to other key government posts. The Mahoney Lecture is cosponsored by AMS and NOAA, and the annual lecture is presented by a person of stature in the field who can address a key environmental science and/or policy issue of the day. We are very pleased to announce that Richard H. Moss, senior scientist at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory’s Joint Global Change Research Institute and adjunct professor in the Department of Geographical Sciences at the University of Maryland, College Park, will deliver the second Mahoney Lecture. The lecture will begin at 4:00 p.m. and will be followed by a reception. The lecture is free and does not require registration to attend.
If you have ever thought about attending the Washington Forum but have not yet done so, this would be a great year to give it a try. We do limit attendance because of space constraints and the desire for this meeting to have a lot of audience participation and discussion, so I would encourage you to register early. You can learn more about the Forum, and register to attend, at the Forum website.
(Note: This letter also appears in the March 2017 issue of BAMS.)

Thanksgiving in March

by Keith Seitter, AMS Executive Director
The past few months have been a period of increased anxiety for many of us in the weather, water, and climate community as we contemplate how changes in the nation’s administration will impact agencies and programs, and, ultimately, how well our science and the services based on it can move forward. Despite the fact that we work in disciplines that routinely deal with uncertainty, it is not easy for us to deal with the particular flavor of uncertainty we have been facing, or to keep it from being deeply unsettling.
At AMS, we have focused on being even more vigilant in working to defend the integrity of the scientific process and in trying to ensure that the best peer-reviewed science is brought to bear on issues facing our country and the world. Recognizing the importance of those efforts—and even with occasional successes in them—does not keep one from becoming disheartened in dealing with our “post-fact world.”
I was feeling particularly discouraged recently as all this weighed on me, and then I realized that what I should be doing is creating the kind of list many of us do on Thanksgiving. Here it is:

  • I’m thankful to be part of a community whose work really matters. And that people become part of this community because they know how much this work matters and they bring dedication and passion to it every day.
  • I’m thankful that the general public appreciates and depends on the work of our community. They look to us every day to help them make decisions both big and small, and put their trust in us to keep them out of harm’s way (even though they may, at times, complain about our efforts).
  • I’m thankful that we can—and do—rely on a scientific process to discern how our environment works so that we can speak with confidence. It is not what we believe, but what we can observe, measure, and objectively model based on known physics that guides us.
  • I’m thankful I work at an organization guided by a Council made up of gifted and dedicated volunteer leaders, and that I can spend my time working with an incredible professional staff.

By the time I got to the end of this list, I was no longer feeling discouraged but, instead, was energized and ready to keep working toward making sure that the best available scientific knowledge and understanding was getting into the hands of policymakers at all levels. We may be in the midst of particularly challenging times, but AMS, as a very highly respected “honest broker” covering the science and services of the weather, water, and climate community, is in a position to be particularly effective in working through those challenges.
(A version of this post appeared in AMS Executive Director Keith Seitter’s “Letter from Headquarters” column in the February 2017 BAMS.)