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Ghassem Asrar, Jack A. Kaye, and Pierre Morel

This paper describes the principles adopted by the NASA Earth Science Enterprise in formulating a comprehensive 2002–2010 research strategy for earth system science, and outlines one component of this broad interdisciplinary program, focused on physical climate research. Before embarking upon topical discussions of each element of the program, the authors sketch NASA's overall strategy for climate research and organize the main research thrusts according to a logical progression from documenting climate variability and trends in relevant climate forcing factors, to the investigation of key climate responses and feedback mechanisms, consequences for weather and water resources, and climate prediction issues. The ultimate challenge for NASA's earth system science program, a major contribution to the U.S. Global Change Research Program, is to consolidate scientific findings in the different disciplines into an integrated representation of the coupled atmosphere, ocean, ice, land, and biosphere system. The hallmark of NASA programs is indeed the integration of observations, principally global observation from research and operational satellite and surface-based observation networks, into consistent global datasets to support its scientific research programs and the verification of earth system model predictions against observed phenomena.

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Richard B. Rood, Dale J. Allen, Wayman E. Baker, David J. Lamich, and Jack A. Kaye


Analysis of atmospheric data by assimilation of height and wind measurements into a general circulation model is routine in tropospheric analysis and numerical weather prediction. A stratospheric assimilation system has been developed at NASA/Goddard Space Flight Center. This unique system generates wind data that is consistent with the geopotential height (and temperature) field and the primitive equations in the general circulation model. These wind fields should offer a significant improvement over the geostrophic analysis normally used in the stratosphere.

This paper reports the first known calculations to use data from an assimilation to calculate constituent transport in the stratosphere. Nitric acid (NHO3) during the LIMS period is studied. While there are still significant discrepancies between the calculated and observed HNO3, there are some remarkable successes. Particularly, the high-latitude time variance of the HNO3 is accurately captured. These studies suggest that data from an assimilation process offers tremendous potential for studying stratospheric dynamics, constituent transport, and chemistry.

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Richard B. Rood, Jack A. Kaye, Anne R. Douglass, Dale J. Allen, Stephen Steenrod, and Edmund M. Larson


A three-dimensional simulation of the evolution of HNO3 has been run for the winter of 1979. Winds and temperatures are taken from a stratospheric data assimilation analysis, and the chemistry is based on Limb Infrared Monitor of the Stratosphere (LIMS) observations. The model is compared to LIMS observations to investigate the problem of “missing” nitric acid chemistry in the winter hemisphere. Both the model and observations support the contention that a nitric acid source is needed outside of the polar vortex and north of the subtropics.

Observations show that nitric acid and potential vorticity are uncorrelated in middle latitudes outside the polar vortex. This suggests that HNO3 is not dynamically controlled in middle latitudes. The model shows that given the time scales of conventional chemistry, dynamical control is expected. Therefore, an error exists in the conventional chemistry or additional processes are needed to bring the model and data into agreement. Since the polar vortex is dynamically isolated from the middle latitudes, and since the highest HNO3 values are observed in October and November, a source associated solely with polar stratospheric clouds cannot explain the deficiencies in the chemistry. The role of heterogeneous processes on background aerosols is reviewed in light of these results.

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Jessie C. Carman, Daniel P. Eleuterio, Timothy C. Gallaudet, Gerald L. Geernaert, Patrick A. Harr, Jack A. Kaye, David H. McCarren, Craig N. McLean, Scott A. Sandgathe, Frederick Toepfer, and Louis W. Uccellini


The United States has had three operational numerical weather prediction centers since the Joint Numerical Weather Prediction Unit was closed in 1958. This led to separate paths for U.S. numerical weather prediction, research, technology, and operations, resulting in multiple community calls for better coordination. Since 2006, the three operational organizations—the U.S. Air Force, the U.S. Navy, and the National Weather Service—and, more recently, the Department of Energy, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Science Foundation, and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, have been working to increase coordination. This increasingly successful effort has resulted in the establishment of a National Earth System Prediction Capability (National ESPC) office with responsibility to further interagency coordination and collaboration. It has also resulted in sharing of data through an operational global ensemble, common software standards, and model components among the agencies. This article discusses the drivers, the progress, and the future of interagency collaboration.

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Cynthia Rosenzweig, Radley M. Horton, Daniel A. Bader, Molly E. Brown, Russell DeYoung, Olga Dominguez, Merrilee Fellows, Lawrence Friedl, William Graham, Carlton Hall, Sam Higuchi, Laura Iraci, Gary Jedlovec, Jack Kaye, Max Loewenstein, Thomas Mace, Cristina Milesi, William Patzert, Paul W. Stackhouse Jr., and Kim Toufectis

A partnership between Earth scientists and institutional stewards is helping the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) prepare for a changing climate and growing climate-related vulnerabilities. An important part of this partnership is an agency-wide Climate Adaptation Science Investigator (CASI) Workgroup. CASI has thus far initiated 1) local workshops to introduce and improve planning for climate risks, 2) analysis of climate data and projections for each NASA Center, 3) climate impact and adaptation toolsets, and 4) Center-specific research and engagement.

Partnering scientists with managers aligns climate expertise with operations, leveraging research capabilities to improve decision-making and to tailor risk assessment at the local level. NASA has begun to institutionalize this ongoing process for climate risk management across the entire agency, and specific adaptation strategies are already being implemented.

A case study from Kennedy Space Center illustrates the CASI and workshop process, highlighting the need to protect launch infrastructure of strategic importance to the United States, as well as critical natural habitat. Unique research capabilities and a culture of risk management at NASA may offer a pathway for other organizations facing climate risks, promoting their resilience as part of community, regional, and national strategies.

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