Talk:Hemispheric Transport (TF HTAP) Assessment Wiki

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Revision as of 18:37, September 5, 2006 by (talk)

Ed and others, I'm in Geneva right now at the CLRTAP/EMEP Steering Body meeting and will explore some of these ideas with our European and WMO colleagues. Rich and I had the chance to talk briefly last week. But here are my initial reactions and a little soapbox speech that has been building over the summer:

There is tremendous potential to do something in coordination with European initiatives, such as GMES and GEOMON, and global initiatives, such as IGACO. The big question is where should our initial focus be. As expressed in the U.S. Air Quality NTO Plan, there are two somewhat different applications that we could focus on: air quality forecasting and assessment. While these two areas of application have some issues in common, some aspects are different. Both forecasting and assessment could benefit from greater accessibility and comparability of meteorological and air quality data from surface or satellite observations. To be useful for forecasting, observations must be made available on a real or near real-time basis for assimilation into forecasting models on regional to global scales. The requirements for assessment may be less demanding, in terms of dynamic real-time access, and may provide opportunities for more successful first steps.

Given my role as co-chair of the CLRTAP/EMEP Task Force on Hemispheric Transport of Air Pollutants (TF HTAP), I have a personal interest in the assessment applications, particularly looking at intercontinental flows of air pollutants. Acknowledging that bias, I believe that the discussions in US GEO and some related venues (e.g., ESIP AQ Cluster, ...) have overemphasized applications to air quality forecasting, with its potential to inform the general public, at the expense of air quality assessment applications, which are the basis for environmental legislation and regulation at the international, national, and local scales. While assessment efforts are less amenable to spots on the Weather Channel, there is tremendous potential to do some really important work by focusing on some specific scientific assessment questions, rather than focusing on public information, with an arguably larger potential impact on the science and policy of air quality management.

In my mind, the TF HTAP is a perfect initial customer for a Global Earth Observing System of Systems: the task force is being asked to integrate evidence from various observational platforms and modeling tools to assess the impacts of intercontinental transport across the Northern Hemisphere. The assessment that will result from this effort will set the stage for future international negotiations or cooperation on air quality as well as air quality policies in the United States, Europe, and Asia. In accomplishing this task, we will begin to build aspects of GEOSS (creating metadata catalogs for observational data, nomenclature conventions for atmospheric chemistry variables, automated tools for model intercomparison and evaluation, distributed libraries of modeling and observational datasets, ...) whether or not these are activities that are recognized as activities under the Group on Earth Observations.

We will build off of GMES, GEOMON, IGACO, and other efforts. Our hope is to pursue these activities in coordination with GEO. We are taking the first step in coordinating these efforts by holding a major international workshop on January 20-22 in Geneva at the WMO, with the participation of the GEO Secretariat. I am confident that coming out of the Geneva workshop that we will be able to identify some initiatives that will be worth teeing up for the 4th GEO ministerial. Although my belief may be self-serving, I believe that others, including Rich Scheffe and Rudy Husar, share my belief that the TF HTAP and the assessment of intercontinental transport is an ideal initial focus for the development of air quality applications for GEOSS. I am hopeful that with further discussion, this vision will be shared by others in the U.S. GEO.

Both air quality assessment and forecasting activities need to be pursued and, over time, the distinctions between these activities will fade away. I will continue to explore these issues with my European colleagues and report back. I think that we are on the brink of taking some significant steps forward and we just need to decide to do it. User:TKeating Sep 4, 2006 8:16 AM

Terry, I hope you're doing well in Geneva. I want to offer a bit of reaction to your email.
I share your sense that there is tremendous potential for collaborative work with our Europeans colleagues, and I hope you will be able to advance that and help to find good areas for focus.
I think your sense that there has been a lot of recent focus on air quality forecasting is well-founded, but I do not see that as detrimental to the assessment work. One key point is that advances in information technology (IT) are making real- or near-real-time access to data and model outputs far less a barrier than it used to be. Leveraging these advances in IT to support AQ forecasting need not detract from assessment work and in fact ought to support it, too.
On the other hand, to leverage the public interest in better AQ forecasting and focus on generating products of interest *and use* to the public is, I think, a good thing. It helps to manifest the "near-term opportunity" philosophy and the desire to support decison-making at all levels to achieve societal benefits. Public interest and support is crucial for the sustainability of GEOSS. The forecasting work seems to have established traction that is important to sustain. I infer, perhaps in error, a concern that an emphasis on forecasting may "dumb down" the science or distract from the scientific work needed for assessment. To the contrary, I think a good case can be made that the assessment work is vital to forecasting as well as for legislative/regulatory policy support -- which I agree is extremely important.
I would suggest that the best strategy is to couple strong public interest with sound science and to look for opportunities that support both assessment and forecasting, and generate products whenever possible within the near-term horizon. In other words, I would strive to find and exploit commonalities, while recognizing and working with differences, rather than emphasize differences while acknowledging that there are some commonalities. I would suggest mapping out the logic of the assessment and forecasting efforts and looking for synergies. Plus continuing to think in terms of "community of practice" approaches and opportunities to share the work across community members -- like our European colleagues. Again, good luck, and safe travels. Cheers, User:SYoungSep 5, 2006 9:12 AM