Table of Contents
Global Change Research, Participating Agencies and Executive Offices
Ad hoc Working
Group on Climate Modeling
of recommen- dations
Charge to the Working
Scope of Document /
Underlying Definitions and Assumptions
Business Practices / Institutional models
Full Report (PDF)
o The requirements and expectations placed
on the climate community have grown to the point that the U.S. requires the
service of a dedicated organization, which is referred to here as the
o The Climate Service must operate as a
product-driven research organization. This is in contrast to the
discovery-driven research that is predominant in U.S. science programs.
o A successful product-driven Climate
Service requires leadership, management, and business practices that are
substantially different from those used in discovery-driven research
activities. The following attributes are required:
- Clear definition of mission.
- Executive management with the
responsibility of overseeing quality control and delivering the climate
- Unifying incentive structure that
connects individual's activities with organizational goals.
- Supporting business practices.
o There are three fundamental issues that
provide complex and conflicting challenges to the formation of a Climate
- The high-performance computing industry
has fundamentally changed. While this has provided better computational
resources to many individual researchers, those applications that require
the highest level of computing are struggling to remain viable. The
tension is heightened by U.S. policy on supercomputers.
- There are not enough people to provide
either the scientific or information technology expertise needed to
sustain all of the U.S. climate-science activities that strive to provide
comprehensive capabilities. Key positions are going unfilled and students
are not being trained to fill either the scientific research positions or
the esoteric niches of software engineering, computational science, and
computer science required for a successful high-end climate capability.
- The multi-agency culture that developed
to support the discovery-driven research activities is not well suited to
support a more product-oriented climate service. A multitude of
sub-critical activities reside in the different agencies, and there is no
straightforward mechanism to allow concerted concentration of these
resources towards common product-oriented goals.
o The Climate Service must be cognizant of
and responsive to foreign centers that are defining the state-of-the-art in
assessment and simulation capabilities and, increasingly, in scientific
o Issues related to high performance
- Shared-memory, vector computers
manufactured in Japan, and essentially unavailable to U.S. researchers,
have a combination of usability and performance that gives them far more
capability than computers available to U.S. scientists.
- Parallel computers manufactured in the
U.S., often with distributed memory, are difficult to use. In addition,
there are intrinsic limitations to the ability of climate-science
algorithms to achieve high levels of performance on these computers.
- Japanese-manufactured computers already
delivered to foreign centers assure that U.S. scientists will have
significantly less computational capability for at least three to five
- With the delivery of the next
generation of Japanese computers, and continuation of current approaches
to computing in the U.S., the gap between the U.S. and foreign centers
will increase and exist for longer than five years.
- The purchase of Japanese vector
computers would have an immediate impact on climate and weather science
in the U.S. and offers the only short-term strategy for closing the
computational gap between U.S. and foreign centers.
- There is insufficient investment in the
U.S. in software. A software infrastructure must be built to support both
climate and weather activities. The software infrastructure must:
- Facilitate the interactions of
scientists at different institutions, allowing concurrent development in
a controlled environment.
- Facilitate the interactions of
climate scientists and computational scientists, allowing more robust
use of computational platforms.
- Include development of systems
software necessary for the operation of the hardware platform.
- The U.S. policy requiring the use of
distributed memory, commodity-based processor parallel computers increases
the size of the needed software investment.
- Japanese vector computers require
substantially less expenditure on software.
- The risk is high that software
developed for U.S.-available computers will not achieve the performance
and reliability realized by that using Japanese-manufactured vector
- Without the development of successful
software, the deployment of large U.S.-manufactured hardware systems to
increase computational capability is not justified.
- The development of U.S. computational
platforms for the Climate Service is a research activity and the research
must be driven by the climate applications rather than by technological
development. As a research activity, the intrinsic risks are high.
o Issues related to the shortage of human
- In order to focus adequate
climate-science expertise for the Climate Service, a multi-agency response
- Timely development of a Climate Service
requires participation of presently existing capabilities.
- Integration of efforts across
institutions and disciplines is needed to achieve critical concentration
of expertise on priority problems.
- Competition for human resources with the
mainstream information technology industry is high, and it will be
impossible to populate the information technology staffs of multiple
comprehensive climate-research centers.
o Issues related to existing multi-agency
- The current management and review
process rewards individual accomplishments and tends to fragment efforts
rather than focus them towards common goals.
- The reward and incentive structure that
currently exists is not strong enough to allow coordinated,
product-oriented goals to rise to a level to be competitive with internal
Agency missions and programs.
- Fundamentally new management and
business strategies are needed to support the product-driven Climate
- The difficulties of facing these
management issues are large and suggest that the initial implementation of
the Climate Service should be as simple as possible.
- This is in conflict with need to
integrate activities across institutions and disciplines to address
human resource issues, to maintain similar levels of comprehensiveness
as foreign centers, and to keep up with scientific evolution.
- The management issues require more
directed authority and decision making than is possible within umbrella
organizations, like the USGCRP, which were designed to guide research
rather than generate products.
- Without addressing these management
issues, providing additional funds to the existing programs will not be
effective in the development of the Climate Service.