Energy production, distribution, and use will need to be continuously “managed” into the indefinite future. Part of this management will involve an understanding of how our future energy uses will affect the global environment and how the global environment will affect our energy uses.
The atmospheric system is intimately linked to energy production and to environmental impact. Of special importance is the extreme variability of weather and climate and their pervasive nature in almost all phases of human activities. The atmosphere may have been too lightly regarded for its energy relationships in recent decades.
The Dixy Lee Ray Report The Nation's Energy Future (1973) recommended increased basic research in those areas of the social and physical sciences related to energy systems and their uses. The atmospheric sciences can contribute substantially to research in this area.
The present report identifies those parts of various energy systems that are especially sensitive to weather variability. The report focuses attention on those aspects of the atmospheric sciences that could contribute substantially to improved utilization, efficiency, and conservation of future energy systems and resources.
From the text of the report we select and recommend a significant increase in basic research in the following areas of the atmospheric sciences:
Short-range and long-range specification and prediction of weather variables directly related to energy system operations.
Atmospheric dispersion and chemical transformations of pollutants, particularly in the planetary boundary layer.
The control of radiation and temperature through cloud modification.
Micrometeorological and microclimatic effects on agricultural productivity and efficiency.
In addition, we recommend any energy-oriented basic research program in the atmospheric sciences participate in the emerging redirection of the nation's global atmospheric research program (GARP) to assure relevance of climatic information to energy problems.
We recognize the probability of success may be small in the areas of extended-range forecasting and certain aspects of weather modification. However, these probabilities are not zero, and almost any measure of success would have a great impact on energy systems.
1 A report to the National Science Foundation, under Grant GA 44420, of a workshop held at NCAR, 30 September–3 October 1974.