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RISA-NCAR Collaboration Proposal

Toward Successful NCAR-RISA Collaboration:
An Exploratory Workshop

1. Summary

Given the similar missions and complementary strengths of NCAR and NOAA-OGP’s RISA Program, a promising opportunity exists to explore opportunities to collaborate and support the fulfillment of common scientific and strategic goals. This proposal requests partial support for a 1.5-day workshop to be held in fall 2004 for RISA Team representatives, RISA Program officials, and NCAR scientists to develop specific ideas for joint efforts in regionally-based integrated science and assessment.

2. Rationale

NOAA’s Regional Integrated Sciences and Assessment (RISA) Program shares with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) several essential goals. Similar in their respective missions’ intent, both aim for high quality research in service of societal needs (See RISA-NCAR – Similar Missions, Complementary Goals.)

At the same time, the RISA Teams and NCAR have different strengths. For example, RISA Teams are well positioned and highly skilled in establishing close, trustful, long-term relationships with users of scientific information, thus are able to build a clear and deep understanding of stakeholder information needs, and have better access to policy-making arenas, where scientific information could usefully and effectively support decision-making. NCAR, on the other hand, as a worldclass national research center, has extensive research capacity especially in the atmospheric sciences and an unparalleled observational and computational infrastructure. In partnerships with other academic institutions, government, and private sector organizations at all levels NCAR helps to build and maintain critically needed decision-support systems. Its research applications have focused on topics ranging from global and regional climate modeling to aviation safety, natural hazard mitigation, and climate impacts assessments.

Given the similarities in mission and goals and the complementarity in strengths, it is all but intuitive to see that NCAR could support RISA activities, and that RISA could enable NCAR to better serve societal needs. To date only one instance of explicit collaboration between NCAR and a RISA Team exists (see attached letter of support from Eileen Shea). It illustrates the potential, fit, and fruitfulness of a more widespread collaboration. How – specifically – the two could collaborate, enhance each other’s effectiveness, and help each other fulfill common scientific and strategic goals, however, remains to be determined through joint exploration.

3. Proposed Activity

This proposal ask for partial support of a workshop to be held at NCAR in fall 2004 (exact date to be determined with RISA teams) which will bring together representatives of each of the existing RISA teams, NOAA Program representatives, and a range of NCAR scientists to explore the potential for mutually supportive collaboration among RISA teams and NCAR. Specifically, this workshop will examine the following questions:

  1. In what ways could RISA Teams benefit from the tools, infrastructure, and research capacity available at NCAR? – Possibilities include (but are not limited to):
  2. Global and regional climate modeling capabilities, including in conjunction with the North American Regional Climate Change Assessment Program (NARCCAP) led by Linda Mearns at NCAR/ESIG, could provide region-specific medium- and long-term climate projections

    Testing and integration of tools developed at NCAR (e.g., the extremes toolkit) in real-world decision contexts in the RISA regions

    NCAR’s Research Applications Program and Development Testbed Center could facilitate the transition of research products to operations in RISA regions

    NCAR facilities and resources could support nationwide and inter-RISA activities (as increasingly encouraged by NOAA-OGP)

  3. In what ways could NCAR benefit from the insights and research capacities available in RISA Teams? – Possibilities include (but are not limited to):
  4. RISA Teams are gathering deep insights and extensive experience in effective science-stakeholder interaction, which would support specific NCAR research (e.g., in the Environmental & Societal Impacts Group, ESIG, and the newly forming Institute for the Study of Society and Environment, ISSE), and NCAR’s broader strategic goals

    RISA Teams frequently have strong environmental and social science expertise, which could – in joint research and assessment projects – complement and strengthen expertise available within ESIG/ISSE and other NCAR integrative initiatives.

    RISA experts form a highly qualified pool of potential NCAR short- and longer-term visitors, which would bring fresh expertise to NCAR and strengthen the bonds between the national center and the wider university community.

  5. How would the RISA-NCAR collaboration have to be structured, managed, and supported in order to reap the above-mentioned (and other) benefits without ignoring or creating institutional or scientific obstacles?
  6. The workshop would offer an opportunity to brainstorm potential problems in such a collaboration upfront and provide a constructive venue to avoid or overcome them

    The workshop would also explore needs and requirements to make a collaboration possible.

4. Proposed Structure of the Workshop

The workshop would be a 1.5 day event, in which participants would have an opportunity to give brief overviews of their RISA and NCAR research/assessment activities. Based on this shared knowledge, participants would brainstorm a broad range of potential collaborative efforts in plenary and smaller working group sessions.

On the assumption that (a) collaboration is desirable and (b) demonstrable success would pave the way to longer-term and deeper collaborative efforts, a jointly selected subset of priority projects could be further developed during working group deliberations.

Joint discussion of how to structure, support, and implement collaborative efforts (see Question 3 above) in light of the emerging ideas of joint efforts would conclude the discussions.

5. Expected Outcomes

The primary outcome from this workshop would be a shortlist of highly promising joint NCAR-RISA collaborative efforts and concrete recommendations for effective implementation. A brief summary of these initial ideas would be provided to all participants, including NOAA-OGP program officials following the workshop.

This list of potential joint efforts would enter into both NCAR and RISA Teams’ future planning and proposal writing. It could also inform NOAA-OGP of promising future directions for the RISA Program in general. This is particularly interesting in light of the growing emphasis within the RISA Program to stimulate inter-RISA projects.

     
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