The Blue Marble

NEWS Implementation Plan

January 18, 2007
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NEWS Implementation Plan Executive Summary (January 2007)

Download the IP Executive Summary


NEWS Vision

In 2003 NASA established the NASA Energy and Water-cycle Study (NEWS) whose long-term grand challenge is to document and enable improved, observationally based predictions of water and energy cycle consequences of Earth system variability and change. However, recognizing that, the broad objectives of energy and water cycling related climate research extend well beyond the purview of any single agency or program, and call for the support of many activities that are matched to each agency's respective roles and missions. Therefore, to achieve the ultimate goal of credible global change predictions and applications across all significant scales, NASA continues to seek collaborations with other Federal and international agencies, the scientific community-at-large and private industry.


NSIT: A NEWS Science Integration Team was established by the Associate Administrator to serve and enable the integration of science activities with other NEWS investigations and other NASA research foci and activities. The NSIT served as an interface to NASA system components, to coordinate and integrate the results of the NEWS product-and discovery-driven investigations to provide a pathway for the results of NEWS investigations to be implemented and retained as NASA system components. The NSIT developed and provided shared NEWS services, such as information technology, communication, and planning that were designed to enhance cross-project collaboration and integration. The founding NSIT members included: Robert Schiffer (UMBC), Eni Njoku (NASA-JPL), Adam Schlosser (MIT), Bing Lin (NASA-LaRC), Bill Rossow (CREST/CCNY), Bill Lapenta (NCEP/EMC), Paul Houser (GMU), and Jared Entin (NASA-HQ). Paul Houser as NEWS project scientist, and Jared Entin, the NEWS project manager.

Over the past two years, the project has been working on how to refine a NEWS team approach to tackling integration. NEWS is attempting to create a structure that allows for consistency from existing NEWS activities, (i.e., conservation of scientific momentum), and at the same time welcomes new NEWS PIs and their projects.

NEWS Working Groups

To these ends, the project created four NEWS working groups that identify integration needs and make the needed connections to partner and coordinate with water & energy cycle research and application activities going on at other organizations within NASA, nationally, and internationally. The four groups established in 2009 are:

Drought & Flood Extremes - including water and energy aspects of abrupt climate change
Evaporation & Latent Heating - including both land and ocean
Water and Energy Cycle Climatology - to exploit and influence evolving observing systems
Modeling & Water Cycle Prediction - foster interaction with the global modeling community 

The working groups are expected to coordinate and integrate NEWS PI science investigations; liaise with relevant flight missions and NASA R&A Programs; implement annual assessment of progress in meeting NEWS scientific requirements; and contribute to periodic Implementation Plan (IP) updates. A principal goal of the working groups is to promote the development of scientific papers that integrate various NEWS research within the working group topic area. 

Recent progress

Since initiation of the project by NASA and publication of the Science Implementation Plan in 2007, NEWS has focused on addressing the range of Phase 1 objectives. The first phase focuses on the first coordinated attempt to describe the complete global energy and water cycle using existing and forthcoming satellite and ground based observations, and laying the foundation for essential NEWS developments in model representations of atmospheric energy and water exchange processes. This comprehensive energy and water data analysis program must exploit crucial datasets, some still requiring complete re-processing, and new satellite measurements. These data products will then be evaluated for accuracy and consistency, in part by using them in the first diagnosis of the weather-scale (space and time) variations of the global energy and water cycle over the past one-two decades . The primary objective is to ensure that results of this analysis effort serve as a recognized data basis to compare with corresponding climate statistics produced by existing climate models, quantify systematic deficiencies, and identify needed improvements. The data records to be produced through these efforts are mandatory for developing and validating models that meet NEWS scientific requirements.

At the same time, this implementation plan calls for the development of radically new model representations of energy and water exchange processes that resolve significant process scales and spatial variability in ground boundary conditions. Such process-resolving models may be first constructed as independent stand-alone modules that can be tested against ad hoc field measurements and systematic observations at selected experimental sites. At a later stage, the codes may be simplified through statistical sampling of process-scale variables or otherwise reduced to generate integrated fluxes representative of each grid-element in a climate model. Finally, the implementation plan calls for broad exploration of potential new observing techniques concerning all aspects of the energy and water cycle, and initiating relevant technical feasibility and scientific benefit studies.

NEWS Project Flexibility: As stated in the NRA, selected NEWS investigations are expected to interact proactively with other NEWS investigators to optimize progress toward integrating NASA Earth Science Enterprise System components to make decisive progress toward the NEWS challenge. This requires some modification of investigators' tasks to optimize integration (i.e. identify and eliminate areas of potential overlap) and fill NEWS team gaps as they become apparent. This will also require frequent communication via telephone conferences and by attending at least one (TBD) NEWS team meeting per year. The initial NEWS team kick-off meeting was held on Sept. 7-9, at the Goddard Institute for Space Studies in New York City


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