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RISA-NCAR Similar Missions, Complementary Goals
RISA-NCAR Collaboration Proposal

Notes from NCAR-RISA Brainstorming Meeting

Arlington, VA - November 15, 2005


John Katzenberger (AGCI), Eileen Shea (HI-Pacific), Greg Carbone (SC), Brad Udall (WW), David Brown (NE), Greg Garfin (CLIMAS), Holly Hartman (CLIMAS), Cameron Wake (NE), Keith Ingram (SE), Jim O’Brien (SE), Ed Sarachik (PNW), Andrew Comrie (CLIMAS), Hannah Campbell (RISA), Caitlin Simpson (RISA), Linda Mearns (NCAR-ISSE), Susi Moser (NCAR-ISSE). Dan Cayan (CAP), Tony Westerling (CAP), Mike Dettinger (CAP)

Purpose of Meeting:

This meeting – first borne out of conversations between Susi Moser and Harvey Hill – is intended to initiate collaborative ties between NCAR and the RISAs around the country. Getting to know each other, what we do, what we are interested in doing, will help generate ideas for possible collaborations. From this first brainstorm, we would like to pick a few promising ideas for further development at a future meeting (see next steps at the end of these notes).

NCAR Offerings:

Presentation/hand-out was mainly focused on NARCCAP, and a few additional tools and products that NCAR could offer


  • Desire (if not expectation) that NCAR support RISAs in the context of NARCCAP.


- Multi-decadal variability not covered in the time slices that NARCCAP is planning to do; particularly useful to do for western RISAs

- Linda can send full proposals to folks for further details

- Domain not just US, but all of North America and surrounding ocean areas; intent to make this an international effort

- classic variables being saved for impacts purposes (daily time scales, near ground and upper air variables, temperature, precipitation, relative humidity, wind speed, solar radiation); additional variables for analysis

- would like to have surface fluxes

- Hawaii not included in domain

- in three years all runs will be available; but will become available sequentially

- O’Brien has interest in comparing observed data with “current runs”

- need to be able to capture NAME (monsoon)

- any validation of models for historical performance? – yes, baseline validation, but not detailed regional validation; RISAs could take on some of that.

- storage of outputs at NCAR (storage of regional climate model outputs) and at PCMDI

(2) Products From and Possible Joint Projects in Context of ISSE’s Weather and Climate Impacts Assessment Science Program

  • Extremes tool kit
  • Characterization of uncertainty
  • Attribution of climate impacts
  • Health-climate focus

(3) Regional Probabilities of Climate Change

  • Regions shown on p.4 were done for IPCC AR4, but in the process of developing probabilities for smaller regions (not down to grid size, but more reasonable); avoid using the historical climate divisions
  • People eventually will be able to pick the region of their choosing and probabilities will be generated automatically for them
  • GIS Format Output of Climate Model Projections
  • NCAR Climate Data Sets
  • Collaboration in joint research projects around the 5 ISSE themes
  • Five themes: assessment methods, products and tools; climate-ecosystem-human interactions; use of scientific information in decision processes; vulnerability, adaptation, thresholds, and resilience; integrated science and regional applications
  • Many clearly overlap with RISA interests
  • For more detailed information on each theme, see
  • Logistical Support
  • NCAR could provide meeting space for RISA meetings– might meet the desire for RISA’s to meet more often, more regularly
  • Short-term visits of individual researchers

RISA Interests and Future Directions:

Eileen – already receiving support/data from NCAR; will run out of funding, then writing proposal for the next five years; try to define what a regional Pacific island climate service might look like; until we have that scheme, can’t say what exactly we will do; but very likely want regional detail on CC projections, more info on extreme events; stories versus model-based scenarios – what are RISA’s experience with stories, rather than scenario use, and give that back to modeling community; interested in building an archive of RISA experiences, RISA evaluation; might be better done by an outside institution; direct feedback to the modeling community

Greg – focus on water; downscaling of water fluxes; historical record enhancement; assessment of user feedback and user success stories.

Brad – climate change impacts on water resources is heating up; downscaling of interest, but nervous about what – of quality – we can really provide to users given our geographic location (Rockies); but may help to build relationships with users; process may be more important to educate them about how to use this type of information; use of information in decision-making; focus on users – currently letting them dictate what we focus on.

Dave – state climatologist community woefully under-engaged; what can we do to bring them in more fully; maybe reach out at state climatologist meetings

Greg – interest in RCM runs (climate change white papers for governors etc.); forest and rangeland managers want guidance on how to manage for the future; information use and decision-making; land use-ecosystem-climate is a gaping whole for us that would be of interest;

Holly – assessment tools development – transferable and scalable; e.g., vulnerability mapping tool for community self-evaluation; information management tool; alert system for real-time events (air quality, hydro management); integration of tools; tools management; crossing time-scales [paleo-historical-present-future]

Cameron – bias to looking back in time – valuable lessons to learn from what happened in the past in terms of climate and impacts; try to get at why climate has changed (not just that it has changed) in specific regions; example: eruption of Tambura (1815) – RCM run of that historical event; example: extent to which reforestation of New England impact regional climate; New England-wide air quality assessment (work with Cynthia Rosenzweig), including focus on pollen, link to human health (asthma); information use in air quality management decision-making

Keith – validation of models with historical record; urbanization/land use changes; vulnerability/adaptation; information use; lots of opportunities but need to be careful not to overwhelm NCAR/ISSE resources/capacities; need to carefully address logistical and financial issues that arise from any collaboration;

Jim – climate modeling validation on the modern period; seasonal forecasts for SE (at smaller time and spatial scales) to meet stakeholder interests (extension agents etc.).

Ed – water: hydropower/transportation/water supply/snowpack; forests; coastal vulnerability; marine ecosystems/salmon/fisheries; no work on agriculture so far (done by others); small effort on human health; vulnerability analyses; institutional analyses of drought; beginning to look at horizontal integration across sectors at all time scales; move down to the watershed scale, but politically very contentious; maintenance of connections with users is difficult (due to research/teaching orientation of RISA principals); challenge of transitioning functions to someone else (operationalization); interest in the co-production of knowledge

Dan/Mike – light on human dimensions, mostly physical science activity; tried to partner with interest groups (e.g., CalFed, State of California, fire and energy managers); coast, urban climate – would love to do more there but don’t have capacity; involved in NARCCAP regional downscaling (50km resolution is only marginally useful); need to figure out how NCAR/RISA collaborates, try to avoid stepping on each others’ toes

Andrew – take our own advice: integrate across RISAs by picking a real issue and tackle that (e.g., water) and work it from the ground up; will fit some RISAs and not others; very recently managers are starting to ask us about climate change – unprecedented; >> need to put together info for them >> give us what you have; focus on monsoon will be very important for us; not day-to-day but deep structural vulnerability (growth and the environment in the West) without becoming too adversarial with the development/growth crowd; likelihood of precipitation for specific seasons >> impact on human health (Valley fever); look at past events (e.g., 1950s drought) and try to understand what created it; cross-border issues with Mexico; water projections > stream flow scenarios (linked hydrological model);

Other Discussion:

  • Outlook for RISA budget; support in Congress is questionable; support within OGP and NOAA and even within Commerce is fairly strong; no specific attack on RISAs

Next Steps:

  1. Linda/Susi will send NARCCAP proposal out to group for more detail
  2. Susi will send meeting notes
  3. Over the next few months, Susi and Linda will be in touch with RISA folks to pick a small number of promising themes/topics that emerge out of this brainstorming meeting, for more concerted development at the Meeting in Tuscon [Climate Prediction Applications Science Workshop; March 21-24, Tuscon].
  4. Hold a 1-day meeting around the Tuscon workshop to develop specific joint efforts
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