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Keynote: Ideas on an Earth Analysis and Forecast System

Time 07/14/14 01:15PM-02:15PM

Room GC402

Session Abstract

Although Earth nurtures humankind and life of all kinds, it can be dangerous to humans and its other inhabitants. These dangers can be short term – things that happen over days like hurricanes, or long term, such as climate change. Our ability to deal with Earth’s malevolent potential derives largely from our ability to understand what is happening now in the Earth system, and to make predictions that inform us of mitigating actions for the future. For simplicity in this talk I divide predictions into “initial-state-dominated” (think weather out to 100 days) and “forcing dominated” (think climate from 100 days to 100 years).

A powerful tool to help preparedness would be a real-time, comprehensive Earth system analysis. In this case, comprehensive refers to the Earth system science domains – Physical, Chemical and Biological, and the Earth system constituent domains – Atmosphere, Ocean, Soil, and Ice. Such an analysis would have great benefits for both the initial-state-dominated time scale and the forcing-dominated time scale.

The key to the real-time Earth analysis would be use of all of the available data, including both satellite and in situ, in advanced assimilation systems. A start would be to use 100 physical variables (e.g. temperature, pressure etc.) and 100 chemical variables (e.g. sulfur dioxide, methane, etc.), each at 100 levels in the vertical, and 10 km resolution globally. Biology, much more complex in variety, would be idealized in two dimensions with 10,000 variables. Each of the three real-time science domains would have 10,000 variables. Data aspects of this system will be discussed.

The short-term system would use forecast of the physical domain to allow forecasts of the chemical and biological variables. This system would continuously deliver the kind of “environmental intelligence” needed to protect people and our future. Some illustrative examples will be shown.

Speakers

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Keynote Speaker Alexander MacDonald

Dr. Alexander (Sandy) MacDonald is Chief Science Advisor for NOAA's Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research. He concurrently serves as Director of the Earth System Research Laboratory. Dr. MacDonald, a meteorologist, previously led NOAA's Forecast Systems Laboratory, which is now ESRL's Global Systems Division. He is widely published in the fields of atmospheric modeling, statistics, dynamics, and meteorological systems. Dr. MacDonald has received numerous awards, including three Presidential Rank Awards and a Gold Medal. He also holds the patent for Science On a Sphere, a luminous, animated globe installed in museums around the world to educate the public about Earth and other planets. Dr. MacDonald earned a Ph.D. and M.S. in Meteorology from the University of Utah, and is a former Air Force officer.