Weather Commission

Worth reading and sharing…

October 31, 2012

Dear Colleague:

In September, members of the National Academy of Sciences’ Board on
Atmospheric Sciences and Climate briefed their report,Weather Services
for the Nation: Becoming Second to None, to a packed House Science
Committee hearing room. At the conclusion of the panel, I proposed a
concept to move our community forward: the establishment of a weather
commission. At that time I shared a vision that a commission has the
potential to bring together and strengthen the entire community and
enable the public, private and academic sectors to agree upon shared
roles and responsibilities, set priorities, and infuse the latest
science and technology into our products and services.

A few weeks later, in Boulder, I discussed the weather commission idea
with the Board and Members of the University Corporation for
Atmospheric Research, which represents a significant portion of the
university community. In D.C. and in Boulder, the call for a weather
commission elicited great interest, robust discussion, and a positive
reception for both its need and potential. With interest continuing
to grow, I am writing and asking you, the leaders of the weather
community, to weigh in and to help us build a weather commission the
right way–from the ground up.

At a time when the enterprise is growing rapidly in diverse ways, when
the fundamentals of how we do business are shifting, and when
unprecedented fiscal uncertainty threatens the sustainability and
integrity of our core services and products, a weather commission can
deliver clarity and direction. It can bring together the different
sectors and institutions of our community to deliberate, debate, and
finally agree on a unified path forward. It can enable us to better
leverage our collective expertise for the public good and safety. It
can highlight the critical value of our community to the nation and
elevate our standing before Congress, the Administration, and the
science agencies.

To ensure that the commission is structured and designed in a way that
will lead to the best outcomes for the weather community, it is
critical for us all to have a say in its development from the
beginning. This commission must be larger than any one sector,
agency, company, or institution. Ultimately, it will be the entire
enterprise’s commission and for the nation and the public we
collectively serve. We can only move forward with your full input, and
that input can be constructive or critical.

It can be difficult to develop consensus among the many different
parts of the weather enterprise. The academic community is focused on
research and education. The public sector is focused on using the
science being generated to carry out its mission related to lives and
livelihoods. The private sector is focused on providing products and
services in a highly competitive environment. Different
constituencies and different objectives drive each sector – yet each
is dependent on each other in a variety of ways. A weather commission
would go a long way towards bridging the differences within the
enterprise and get us closer to being able to convey our views in a
more strategic and impactful manner.

To that end, I invite you and your colleagues to actively join in a
community conversation over the next month about the goals, design,
and powers of a weather commission. What are the major questions a
commission should address? How should such a commission operate to
ensure full and open participation? What kind of outcomes, final
report, and action plan should the commission produce, and how should
this outcome be integrated into the public policy process of the
Administration and the Congress?

We have built a dedicated message board to provide an open and public
venue for your inputs, opinions and guidance. It is open for comment
at We have designed the
message board to facilitate dialogue and the open sharing of ideas and
views. This forum will be useful to those in the Congress and
Administration should they decide to support the concept, and we hope
active use by the community over the next month will serve these ends.

I encourage you to forward this open letter to your colleagues in the
community who you think might want to participate in this dialogue,
including those who rely on our services. At the end of November, we
will sort, organize, and compile comments into a format that can help
inform and steer the weather commission effort moving forward.

Until then, I look forward to your participation in this important
community-wide endeavor and to following your conversations on the
message board.


Thomas J. Bogdan

University Corporation for Atmospheric Research

About Kevin Selle

Chief Meteorologist, KFDX-TV. Co-host, WeatherBrains.
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