Climate Change

Benchmarks, Observations, and Testing Forecasts

We believe that it is essential to develop an approach to climate research that respects both the need for observations that set in place a highly accurate climate record in perpetuity and the need for disciplined and innovative testing of high-end, long-term climate forecasts. This work has evolved through both the development of instrument prototypes and the development of mathematical structures linking this new generation of benchmark observations directly to the output of existing climate forecast models. We believe that it is imperative that the national climate program be based, with far greater clarity, on societal objectives, for only those objectives will sustain the innovation, focus, and leadership of the program over the long term. The most important single requirement on the critically needed observing system called for in both the CCSP/CCRI Strategy and the NAS Review is that a decidedly new approach be taken to obtain high measurement accuracy tied irrefutably on orbit to NIST standards such that the practicing scientific community now and in future generations trusts the stated accuracies. A benchmark approach applied to the use of spectrally resolved thermal radiances for climate research is, we believe, the single most important and achievable development in climate observing.