In many respects, the prospects for U.S. meteorological research have never been brighter. Knowledge is advancing rapidly, as are supporting observing and information technologies. The accuracy, timeliness, and information content of forecasts are improving year by year. As a result, new and growing markets eagerly await the products of weather research, and opportunities for commercialization abound. Furthermore, no end to the progress of knowledge is in sight; there is plenty of interesting research left to do.
Other trends, however, give cause for concern. In particular, the growing value of weather services and science is straining long-established public–private and international partnerships, vital to our field. Closer to home, the meteorological community can see nascent signs of some of the same commercialization-related difficulties that now challenge biotechnology.
In fact, the biotechnology community's experience with commercialization of research teaches valuable lessons. Attention to these issues now, and appropriate early action, may help the meteorological community benefit from commercialization while avoiding similar pitfalls. This would not only serve our field well, it would also ensure that society continues to benefit from meteorological research advances in the decades to come.
National Center for Atmospheric Research, Boulder, Colorado
American Meteorological Society, Washington, D.C.