PLEASE NOTE:


*

CCNet 90/2003 - 22 October 2003
EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE SUN SINCE 1940
-----------------------------------------------


The reconstruction shows reliably that the period of high solar activity during
the last 60 years is unique throughout the past 1150 years.
--Ilya G. Usoskin, Sami K. Solanki, Manfred Schüssler, Kalevi Mursula, and Katja Alanko


Scientists at the University of Oulu in Finland and the
Max Planck Institute in Katlenburg-Lindau in Germany have
reconstructed the sunspot count back to the year 850, nearly
tripling the baseline for sunspot studies. They conclude that
over the whole 1150 year record available, the sun has been most
magnetically active (greatest number of sunspots) over the recent
60 years.
-- The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, 21 October 2003


It is encouraging that mankind is concerned about the effects of human
activity on climate, including the build-up of carbon dioxide. Compared to
solar magnetic fields, however, the carbon dioxide production has as much
influence on climate as a flea has on the weight of an elephant.
--Oliver K. Manuel, University of Missouri, CCNet, 21 October 2003



(1) EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE SUN SINCE 1940
    The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, 21 October 2003

(2) MILLENNIUM-SCALE SUNSPOT NUMBER RECONSTRUCTION: EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY
    ACTIVE SUN SINCE THE 1940s
    Physical Review Letters, October 2003

(3) SOLAR MAGNETIC FIELDS, SOLAR ERUPTIONS AND CLIMATE CHANGE
    Oliver K. Manuel <oess@umr.edu>

(4) GIANT SUNSPOT DETECTED
    Space Weather News for Oct. 22, 2003

(5) A DOUBLING OF THE SUN'S CORONAL MAGNETIC FIELD DURING THE PAST 100 YEARS
    Nature 399, 437 - 439 (1999)

(6) SUNSPOTS AND CLIMATE
    B. Geerts and E. Linacre

(7) AND FINALLY: THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC VALUE OF IMPROVED WEATHER AND CLIMATE INFORMATION
    Space Policy Institute


==========
(1) EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE SUN SINCE 1940

The American Institute of Physics Bulletin of Physics News, 21 October 2003
http://www.aip.org/enews/physnews/2003/split/658-2.html

EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY ACTIVE SUN since the 1940s comes from a
new estimation of sunspots back to the ninth century. Many natural
phenomena such as solar radiance and sunspots vary according to
natural cycles. The variation is subject also to additional
fluctuations (arising from as yet unexplained effects) which
complicate any study which examines only a short time interval.
The longer the baseline, the more confident one can be in drawing
out historical conclusions. In the case of sunspots, the direct
counting goes back to Galileo's time, around 1610.  But earlier
sunspot activity can be deduced from beryllium-10 traces in
Greenland and Antarctic ice cores. The reasoning is as follows: more
sunspots imply a more magnetically active sun which then more
effectively repels the galactic cosmic rays, thus reducing their
production of Be-10 atoms in the Earth's atmosphere. Be-10 atoms
precipitate on Earth and can be traced in polar ice even after
centuries. Using this approach, scientists at the University of Oulu
in Finland (Ilya Usoskin, ilya.usoskin@oulu.fi, 358-8-553-1377) and
the Max Planck Institute in Katlenburg-Lindau in Germany have
reconstructed the sunspot count back to the year 850, nearly
tripling the baseline for sunspot studies. They conclude that over
the whole 1150 year record available, the sun has been most
magnetically active (greatest number of sunspots) over the recent 60
years.  (Usoskin et al., Physical Review Letters, upcoming article)

--------
(2) MILLENNIUM-SCALE SUNSPOT NUMBER RECONSTRUCTION: EVIDENCE FOR AN UNUSUALLY
    ACTIVE SUN SINCE THE 1940s

Physical Review Letters, October 2003
http://publish.aps.org/DLO/L02Oct03abs_0009.html
 
Ilya G. Usoskin, Sami K. Solanki, Manfred Schüssler, Kalevi Mursula, and Katja Alanko

The extension of the sunspot number series backward in time is of considerable interest for dynamo theory, solar, stellar, and climate research. We have used records of the ^{10}Be concentration in polar ice to reconstruct the average sunspot activity level for the period between the year 850 to the present. Our method uses physical models for processes connecting the $^{10}$Be concentration with the sunspot number. The reconstruction shows reliably that the period of high solar activity during the last 60 years is unique throughout the past 1150 years. This nearly triples the time interval for which such a statement could be made previously.

© 2003 The American Physical Society.

See also their recent paper "Reconstruction of solar activity for the
last millennium using ^(10)Be data" http://cc.oulu.fi/~usoskin/personal/Sola2_A&A.pdf

==========
(3) SOLAR MAGNETIC FIELDS, SOLAR ERUPTIONS AND CLIMATE CHANGE

Oliver K. Manuel <oess@umr.edu>

Dear Benny,

The World Climate Conference in Moscow is a breakthrough for honest
science.  It is encouraging that mankind is concerned about the
effects of human activity on climate, including the build-up of
carbon dioxide.

Compared to solar magnetic fields, however, the carbon dioxide
production has as much influence on climate as a flea has on the
weight of an elephant.

We address the source of solar magnetic fields and their influence on
solar eruptions and climate in a recent paper. I have attached the first
three pages of the new paper which give the gist. I will be happy to send
a pdf file or paper copy to anyone interested.

With kind regards,

Oliver K. Manuel
Professor of Nuclear Chemistry
University of Missouri
Rolla, MO  65401  USA
Phone: 573-341-4420 or -4344
Fax: 573-341-6033
E-mail: oess@umr.edu or om@umr.edu
http://www.umr.edu/~om/
http://www.ballofiron.com

--------------------------------------
Super-fluidity in the Solar Interior:
Implications for Solar Eruptions and Climate

Oliver K. Manuel (1), Barry W. Ninham (2), and Stig E. Friberg (3)
_________________________________

     Efforts to understand unusual weather or abrupt changes in
climate have been plagued by deficiencies of the standard solar model
(SSM) [1].  While it assumes that our primary source of energy began
as a homogeneous ball of hydrogen (H) with a steady, well-behaved
H-fusion reactor at its core, observations instead reveal a very
heterogeneous, dynamic Sun.  As examples, the upward acceleration and
departure of H+ ions from the surface of the quiet Sun and abrupt
climatic changes, including geomagnetic reversals and periodic
magnetic storms that eject material from the solar surface are not
explained by the SSM.  The present magnetic fields are probably
deep-seated remnants of very ancient origin.  These could have been
generated from two mechanisms.  These are: a) Bose-Einstein
condensation [2] of iron-rich, zero-spin material into a rotating,
super-fluid, superconductor surrounding the solar core and/or b)
super-fluidity and quantized vortices in nucleon-paired Fermions at
the core [3].
_________________________________
KEY WORDS : Climate, solar magnetic fields, solar cycle,
Bose-Einstein condensates

I. INTRODUCTION

     Neutrons and protons, with spin 1/2, satisfy Fermi Dirac
statistics.  Matter comprised of fermions becomes more nearly perfect
as density increases [4].  This observation led to the suggestion
more than half a century ago that a collapsed supernova can undergo a
transition from an ordinary star into a neutron star [5] and to
predictions that a neutron star is stable only if its mass is 1/3 Mo
< m < 3/4 Mo [6], where Mo is one solar mass.  By contrast the most
abundant, most stable, nuclei that occur in astrophysical systems as
a result of stellar evolution have zero or even spin and satisfy Bose
Einstein statistics.  And, like the charged fermi gas, a charged bose
gas also becomes more nearly perfect with increasing density and
temperature.  Such a high density charged Bose fluid that occurs in
astrophysical conditions can then under appropriate conditions
undergo Bose-Einstein condensation.  It becomes a super-fluid
superconductor [2].  The Meissner effect subsequently leads to
expulsion of the magnetic field generated by collapse of the
rotating, massive object.  The field would be confined to the
neighborhood of the super-fluid surface.
     Unlike for the Fermi fluid problem [3], these observations
remarked on 40 years ago in [2] have been overlooked for
astrophysical systems.  Giant gaseous planets and the solar surface
are mostly H-1, a fermion, but the inner planets and the interior of
the Sun consist mostly of bosons (abundant isotopes of Fe, Ni, O, Si,
S, Mg and Ca) [7-11].  Hence, a reasonable conclusion is that the
solar core consists of degenerate fermions in a neutron star [12,13]
surrounded by a dense iron-rich core of a Bose Einstein superfluid,
superconductor [2].  As a result, neutron-emission in the core may
initiate a series of reactions that produce the Sun's luminosity,
solar neutrinos, and the continuous upward flow of H+ ions that
maintains mass separation in the Sun and annually releases 3 x 10^43
H+ ions from the surface in the solar wind [14,15].  We will show
that deep-seated magnetic fields associated with super-fluidity of
nucleon-paired fermions in the solar core and/or Bose-Einstein
condensation in material surrounding that core may explain the upward
acceleration and departure of H+ ions in the solar wind and abrupt
climatic changes, including geomagnetic reversals and the periodic
magnetic storms that mark the solar cycle by violently ejecting
material from the solar surface.

II. THE EARTH-SUN CONNECTION

     Life is fragile.  Mankind lives in fear of calamity on the
surface of a tiny, iron-rich planet that comprises about 0.0003% of
the mass of the solar system.  To calm these fears, public funds are
channeled to the scientific community to explain the occurrence of
natural events.  The results are not always reassuring, e.g., witness
the current debate over global warming.  Climatic changes cause
"water shortages, crop damage, stream-flow reduction, and depletion
of groundwater and soil moisture" [16].  "Paleomagnetic
investigations (augmented by geological, paleobiological, and
geochronological studies) and magnetometer measurements of the ocean
floor have established that the Earth's magnetic field reverses
polarity frequently, but quite irregularly, with an average time
between reversals of about 200,000 years" [ref. 17, p. 456; 18].
     The Sun comprises 99.9% of the mass of the entire solar system.
The separation between the Earth and the Sun is <3% of the distance
to the outermost planets.   Not surprisingly, the Sun dominates most
events on Earth, including our climate [16]. 

==========
(4) GIANT SUNSPOT DETECTED

Space Weather News for Oct. 22, 2003
http://spaceweather.com

Sunspot 484, which first appeared this past weekend, has grown into one of
the biggest sunspots in years. Now about the size of the planet Jupiter,
it's easy to see. But never look directly at the sun! Visit
Spaceweather.com for safe solar observing tips.

Meanwhile, say forecasters, another big sunspot could soon appear near the
sun's southeastern limb. The active region is not yet directly visible,
but the Solar and Heliospheric Observatory (SOHO) has seen material being
blasted over the sun's limb from the approaching spot.

Major eruptions are possible from these active regions as they rotate
across the face of the sun over the next two weeks.

=========
(5) A DOUBLING OF THE SUN'S CORONAL MAGNETIC FIELD DURING THE PAST 100 YEARS

Nature 399, 437 - 439 (1999)
http://www.nature.com/cgi-taf/google_referrer.taf?article_product_code=NATURE&fulltext_filename=/nature/journal/v399/n6735/full/399437a0_fs.html&_UserReference=C0A804F54654D6155B1A879AD7843F9645EC

M. LOCKWOOD1, R. STAMPER1 & M. N. WILD1

World Data Centre C-1 for STP, Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, Chilton, Didcot OX11 0QX, UK
Correspondence and requests for materials should be addressed to M.L. (e-mail: m.lockwood@rl.ac.uk.)

The solar wind is an extended ionized gas of very high electrical conductivity, and therefore drags some magnetic flux out of the Sun to fill the heliosphere with a weak interplanetary magnetic field,. Magnetic reconnection-the merging of oppositely directed magnetic fields-between the interplanetary field and the Earth's magnetic field allows energy from the solar wind to enter the near-Earth environment. The Sun's properties, such as its luminosity, are related to its magnetic field, although the connections are still not well understood,. Moreover, changes in the heliospheric magnetic field have been linked with changes in total cloud cover over the Earth, which may influence global climate. Here we show that measurements of the near-Earth interplanetary magnetic field reveal that the total magnetic flux leaving the Sun has risen by a factor of 1.4 since 1964: surrogate measurements of the interplanetary magnetic field indicate that the increase since 1901 has been by a factor of 2.3. This increase may be related to chaotic changes in the dynamo that generates the solar magnetic field. We do not yet know quantitatively how such changes will influence the global environment.

Nature © Macmillan Publishers Ltd 1999 Registered No. 785998 England.

========
(6) SUNSPOTS AND CLIMATE

B. Geerts and E. Linacre
http://www-das.uwyo.edu/~geerts/cwx/notes/chap02/sunspots.html

Sunspot cycle

Sunspots have a diameter of about 37,000 km and appear as dark spots within the photosphere, the outermost layer of the Sun. The photosphere is about 400 km deep, and provides most of our solar radiation. The layer is about 6,000 degrees Kelvin at the inner boundary and 4,200 K on the outside. The temperature within sunspots is about 4,600 K. The number of sunspots peaks every 11.1 years.

There is a strong radial magnetic field within a sunspot, as implied in the picture, and the direction of the field reverses in alternate years within the leading sunspots of a group. So the true sunspot cycle is 22.2 years. There is also a superimposed fluctuation with a period of 25 months, i.e. a quasi-biennial oscillation.

Sunspots were observed in the Far East for over 2000 years, but examined more intensely in Europe after the invention of telescopes in the 17th century. In 1647 Johannes Hevelius (1611-87) in Danzig made drawings of the movements of sunspots eastwards and gradually towards the solar equator. In 1801 William Herschel (1738-1822) attempted to correlate the annual number of sunspots to the price of grain in London. The 11-year cycle of the number of sunspots was first demonstrated by Heinrich Schwabe (1789-1875) in 1843.

There have been several periods during which sunspots were rare or absent, most notably the Maunder minimum (1645-1715), and less markedly the Dalton minimum (1795-1820) (Fig 2.8 in the book). During the Maunder minimum the proportional concentration of radio-carbon (14C) in the Earth's atmosphere was slightly higher than normal, causing an underestimate of the radio-carbon date of objects from those periods. By means of the premise of excess 14C concentrations in independently dated material (such as tree rings), other minima have been found at times prior to direct sunspot observations, for instance the Sporer minimum from 1450 to1540. Data from 8,000 year-old bristle-cone pine trees indicate 18 periods of sunspot minima in the last 7,800 years (1). This and other studies have shown that the Sun (as well as other stars) spends about a quarter of its time with very few sunspots.

There is another well-known, super-imposed variation of annual sunspot numbers, of about 85 years. This irregular variation affects the length of the sunspot cycle, ranging from 9.8 to 12.0 years. Maxima of sunspot-cycle length occured in 1770, 1845 and 1940.

Sunspots and climate

Incidentally, the Sporer, Maunder, and Dalton minima coincide with the colder periods of the Little Ice Age, which lasted from about 1450 to 1820. More recently it was discovered that the sunspot number during 1861-1989 shows a remarkable parallelism with the simultaneous variation in northern hemisphere mean temperatures (2). There is an even better correlation with the length of the solar cycle, between years of the highest numbers of sunspots. For example, the temperature anomaly was - 0.4 K in 1890 when the cycle was 11.7 years, but + 0.25 K in 1989 when the cycle was 9.8 years. Some critics of the theory of man-induced global warming have seized on this discovery to criticize the greenhouse gas theory.

All this evokes the important question of how sunspots affect the Earth's climate. To answer this question, we need to know how total solar irradiance received by the Earth is affected by sunspot activity.

Intuitively one may assume the that total solar irradiance would decrease as the number of (optically dark) sunspots increased. However direct satellite measurements of irradiance have shown just the opposite to be the case. This means that more sunspots deliver more energy to the atmosphere, so that global temperatures should rise.

According to current theory, sunspots occur in pairs as magnetic disturbances in the convective plasma near the Sun's surface. Magnetic field lines emerge from one sunspot and re-enter at the other spot. Also, there are more sunspots during periods of increased magnetic activity. At that time more highly charged particles are emitted from the solar surface, and the Sun emits more UV and visible radiation. Direct measurements are uncertain, but estimates are that the Sun's radiant energy varies by up to 0.2% between the extremes of a sunspot cycle. Polar auroras are magnificent in years with numerous sunspots, and the 'aurora activity' (AA) index varies in phase with the number of sunspots. Auroras are faint and rare when the Sun is magnetically quiescent, as during the Maunder minimum.

The periodicity of the sunspot number, and hence that of the circulation in the solar plasma, relates to the rotation of the Sun about the centre of gravity of whole solar system, taking 11.1 years on average. Sometimes the Sun is up to a million kilometres from that centre, and sometimes it more or less coincides, leading to different conditions of turbulence within the photosphere. The transition from one condition to the other affects the number of sunspots.

Not only does the increased brightness of the Sun tend to warm the Earth, but also the solar wind (a stream of highly energetic charged particles) shields the atmosphere from cosmic rays, which produce 14C. So there is more 14C when the Sun is magnetically quiescent. This explains why 14C samples from independently dated material are used as a way of inferring the Sun's magnetic history.

Recent research (3) indicates that the combined effects of sunspot-induced changes in solar irradiance and increases in atmospheric greenhouse gases offer the best explanation yet for the observed rise in average global temperature over the last century. Using a global climate model based on energy conservation, Lane et al (3) constructed a profile of atmospheric climate "forcing" due to combined changes in solar irradiance and emissions of greenhouse gases between 1880 and 1993. They found that the temperature variations predicted by their model accounted for up to 92% of the temperature changes actually observed over the period -- an excellent match for that period. Their results also suggest that the sensitivity of climate to the effects of solar irradiance is about 27% higher than its sensitivity to forcing by greenhouse gases.

Sunspots and climate prediction

We do not know why the Sun spends part of its time in a magnetically quiescent state, and whether the sunspot minima occur with a regularity that is sufficient to predict when the next quiescent episode might occur.

At present there is no concern about another Little Ice Age. Recent satellite measurements of solar brightness, analyzed by Willson (4), show an increase from the previous cycle of sunspot activity to the current one, indicating that the Earth is receiving more energy from the Sun. Willson indicates that if the current rate of increase of solar irradiance continues until the mid 21th century, then the surface temperatures will increase by about 0.5° C. This is small, but not a negligible fraction of the expected greenhouse warming. 

The relationship between cycle length and Earth temperatures is not well understood. Lower-than normal temperatures tend to occur in years when the sunspot cycle is longest, as confirmed by records of the annual duration of sea-ice around Iceland. The cycle will be longest again in the early 2020's.

References

Eddy, J.A. 1981: Climate and the role of the Sun. In Rotberg and Rabb 1981, 145--67 (5).
Friis-Christensen, E. and K. Lassen 1991. Length of the solar cycle, an indication of solar activity closely associated with climate. Science 254, 698-700.
Lane, L.J., M.H. Nichols, and H.B. Osborn 1994: Time series analyses of global change data. Environ. Pollut., 83, 63-68.
Willson, R.C. 1997. Total solar irradiance trend during solar cycles 21 and 22. Science, 277, 1963-5.
Rotberg, I. and T.K. Rabb (eds) 1981: Climate and History. (Princeton Univ. Press) 280pp.

=========
(7) AND FINALLY: THE SOCIO-ECONOMIC VALUE OF IMPROVED WEATHER AND CLIMATE INFORMATION

Space Policy Institute
http://www.gwu.edu/~spi

Ray A. Williamson
Henry R. Hertzfeld
Joseph Cordes
Space Policy Institute
The George Washington University
Washington, DC 20052
http://www.gwu.edu/~spi
December 2002

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

The Socio-Economic Value of Improved Weather and Climate Information

Virtually all economic sectors and many public and private activities are affected in
some measure by changes in weather and climate. Uncertainties in the scope and severity of
these changes pose financial and social risks for individuals, businesses, and government
agencies. Hence, achieving more accurate weather and climate forecasts contributes to well
being and the economy by reducing risk and creating new opportunities.

Over the past four decades the National Aeronautics and Space Administration
(NASA) and the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have made
considerable scientific progress towards enhancing the accuracy of weather and climate predictions.

Improved predictions made possible by global satellite data have led to numerous
social and economic benefits, including more effective management of energy resources; enhanced
natural disaster planning, mitigation, and response; cost savings in aviation, agriculture,
and other industries; and in the effectiveness of the U.S. military. Sophisticated instruments
on future observation satellites will continue the trend toward achieving a better understanding
of Earth's climate and establishing a continuing basis for expanding domestic
and global socio-economic benefits.

Yet scientific understanding is only the beginning of the process of developing socioeconomic
benefits from satellite data. The data must be analyzed, combined with information
obtained from other sources, placed into appropriate models of the behavior of global
weather and climate, and turned into information to be disseminated at the right time in useable
forms to individuals and organizations that put the information to practical use. The
paths from space data to decisions capable of generating economic benefits are complex;
they vary with each application and cross several institutional boundaries. They also require
myriad information linkages. At times, potential benefits are unrealized as a result of inadequate or untimely data transfers.

Thus, increases in scientific information about weather and climate do not automatically
create information that is of economic or social value. This implies that the mix of
funded research projects could change over time depending on how considerations of economic
value are weighed along with the scientific merits of earth sensing activities.
Reducing uncertainties results in enhanced benefits for:

* Improving civil government and military planning: Weather conditions have a major
role in government planning for administering forests, grasslands, and other lands under
federal management. Military operations, also, whether in war or peacetime, are affected
by weather conditions. More accurate weather information reduces risk to personnel and
gives them an information edge over adversaries. In peacetime, applying weather forecasts
to logistics and field operations reduces operational costs by improving routing and
timing of deliveries.

* Improving natural hazard mitigation, response, and recover: More accurate prediction
of severe weather can help substantially reduce the costs to society of weather-related
disasters. Better information induces governments, businesses, and individuals to invest
in loss-reduction activities; it can also reduce economic costs from unnecessary loss-
reduction activities that derive from uncertainty about adverse weather (e.g., evacuations
during hurricanes).

* Improving industrial planning: Reduced uncertainty translates directly into better use
of scarce productive resources, as well as dampened fluctuations in prices and quantities
of commodities affected by weather and climate.

* Hedging against uncertainty. Providing better information about the probabilities of
weather-related events also enables the emergence of specialized markets that help mitigate
the economic and financial consequences of uncertainty, such as insurance, trading
in commodities futures, and weather derivatives.

Estimating Socioeconomic Value

This study has examined a range of studies of the economic value of weather forecasts,
concluding that savings and benefits are real, but extremely difficult to measure on a
national or global scale. The best studies examine a component of an industry or sector, estimating economic value very narrowly. Since these studies have been done at different times
by different researchers, using different methodologies, the results cannot be combined into
one summary statistic. Nevertheless, these studies show in a general way the potential socioeconomic value of investments in Earth science research.

Some studies have examined the value of short-term weather predictions, e.g.,

* Savings to oil drilling companies in the Gulf of Mexico from avoiding unnecessary drill
rig evacuations could equal $18 million per year, given a 50% reduction in hurricane
forecast error.

* Improved fueling decisions at Australian airports resulting from better forecasts could
save companies some $6-7 million per year.

* More accurate short term forecasts can save U.S. agriculture an additional $40 million
dollars per year in avoided irrigation costs.

* Improving short-term forecasts could result in marginal benefits of $500 million per year
for electric energy and gas power producers.

* Better hurricane forecasts for the Atlantic Coast over the past 100 years have resulted in
major reductions in yearly deaths from hurricane activity.

Other studies have focused on the effects of seasonal climatic change. For example,
the worldwide socio-economic effects of El Niño and the Southern Oscillation (ENSO) can
equal billions of dollars in a severe El Niño season. However, these effects can be positive as
well as negative, requiring detailed analysis of their net benefits for any region and ENSO
event.

Current and Foreseeable Improvements in Weather and Climate Predictions

Measurements from several new NASA instruments are well poised to contribute to
improvements in weather and climate prediction. For severe weather conditions, especially,
the additional information that synoptic, global satellite data provide, if properly integrated
into appropriate forecast models and effectively communicated to the public, can save lives,
reduce costs, and improve the quality of life in affected areas.

Most recently, several scientific studies show how data from NASA's TRMM and
Quikscat research satellites can be incorporated into the weather forecasting process, improving
knowledge of the paths and force of tropical cyclones and other severe weather. Some
data products from future missions such as the NPOESS Preparatory Project (NPP), Global
Precipitation Mission (GPM), and the Geostationary Imaging Fourier Transform Spectrometer
(GIFTS) will not only advance the science of global weather and climate research, but
will also feed directly into operational forecasts.

Transforming Research Results into Valuable Information Products

As noted, the process of moving from research to useful applications is complex, involving
various institutions. Unfortunately, U.S. science and technology institutional structures
tend to treat the transfer process as a linear one, where the results of scientific research
flow through a series of steps from basic research to an application generating socioeconomic
benefits. In reality, the process generally incorporates multiple flow impedances and
feedback loops. Hence, the details of this process are especially important, because small
impedances in the process flow, when added up, can result in large barriers to implementation
and great difficulty in providing the optimum type and quality of information to users.
NASA therefore faces a number of challenges in assuring that its research programs
result in economic benefits to the U.S. economy. Not only is the process of knowledge transfer
complex, but also many decisions regarding the applications of information derived from
NASA's technology and research are out of NASA's direct control. They may reside either
in other government agencies or in the private sector.

Findings

Our research reached a number of conclusions, the most important of which are
summarized below:

Finding One: Although the marginal value of additional information in a given economic
sphere may appear relatively small as a percentage, they may translate into very large potential
economic effects. Because of the economic magnitude of sectors affected, the total socioeconomic
effects of both short-term weather variations as well as long-term climate changes
are very large. These effects are especially noticeable when measured on a regional or local
level.

Finding Two: Information from NASA's Earth observations research and development provide
significant scientific and research knowledge, but economic methodology and studies
generally have not been adequate for measuring the value of this type of information.

Finding Three: Although large benefits have been associated with predictive capability for
weather and climate, the value is dependent on the timeliness and appropriate use of the data.
The potential for greater benefits depends not only on new research instruments and predictive
capability, but also on the effective transmission of this information to end-users. Therefore,
without sustained and persistent NASA involvement in the task of turning research into
useful information, the transfer of knowledge and technology is not likely to be as successful
as it could be.

Finding Four: NASA therefore has a major responsibility for assuring that promised economic
benefits of Earth science research from space are actually achieved in practice. Infus-
ing the results of NASA's Earth science research into useful applications and decision support
tools will require NASA to work closely with other Federal, state, and local agencies. It
will also require that NOAA, and other federal agencies making use of information products
derived from this research focus more of their effort on ensuring that these products meet the
needs of information consumers and that they are delivered in formats that fit the user's
needs.

Recommendations:

1. NASA should expend sustained resources on improving the two-way flow of information
from the scientist to the application end user and back to the scientist. The
economic value of new data and information is effectively zero until the information is
used productively in an application that actually brings economic benefit to an end user.
Hence, NASA should focus on developing an integrated perspective concerning improvements
in prediction, involving other agencies and institutions in the process.

2. NASA should conduct a detailed analysis of the research to applications process for
several specific cases, in order to achieve the best return on investment in Earth science
research. By understanding the details of the applications process more fully,
NASA scientists could help design data products that are of greater utility to the modelers,
the users of the models, and the customers of those users In other words, quantifiable
socioeconomic benefits should be an intended part of the mission, not merely a residual
outcome.

3. NASA could improve the long-term economic value of its Earth science investments
by investing a small percentage of each mission's funds on identifying potential future
user communities and potential barriers to information transfer. To reap these
additional benefits from Earth science research, it will also be important for NASA to
experiment with inserting new types of data into applied models during the research
phase, such as has been done with the precipitation data from TRMM, and to ensure that
if successful, the data stream will advance from research to operations.


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