Consensus Report

Each report is produced by a committee of experts selected by the Academy to address a particular statement of task and is subject to a rigorous, independent peer review; while the reports represent views of the committee, they also are endorsed by the Academy. Learn more on our expert consensus reports.

The report outlines key elements to consider in designing a program to create climate-quality data from satellites. It examines historical attempts to create climate data records, provides advice on steps for generating, re-analyzing, and storing satellite climate data, and discusses the importance of partnering between agencies, academia, and industry. NOAA will use this report -- the first in a two-part study -- to draft an implementation plan for climate data records.

Key Messages

  • A high-level leadership council within NOAA is needed to oversee the process of creating climate data records from satellite data.
  • A long-term commitment of resources should be made to the generation and archival of CDRs and associated documentation and metadata.
  • An advisory council is needed to provide input to the process on behalf of the climate research community and other stakeholders.
  • An ongoing program of correlative in situ measurements is required to validate TCDRs.
  • Each fundamental CDR (FCDR) should be created by a specifically appointed team of CDR experts.
  • FCDRs must be generated with the highest possible accuracy and stability.
  • Provisions should be included to receive feedback from the scientific community.
  • Resources should be made available for reprocessing the CDRs as new information and improved algorithms are available, while also maintaining the forward processing of data in near real time.
  • Science teams should be formed within broad disciplinary theme areas to prescribe algorithms for the thematic CDRs (TCDRs) and oversee their generation.
  • Sensors must be thoroughly characterized before and after launch, and their performance should be continuously monitored throughout their lifetime.
  • Sensors should be thoroughly calibrated, including nominal calibration of sensors in orbit, vicarious calibration with in situ data, and satellite-to-satellite cross-calibration.
  • TCDRs should be selected based on well-defined criteria established by the Advisory Council.
  • Validated TCDRs must have well-defined levels of uncertainty.
  • Based on these historical lessons, community surveys, a workshop, and committee expertise, the committee identified 14 key elements for creating a climate data record program based mainly on satellites. Adherence to these elements would help NOAA to create CDRs that are accepted as community standards, while ensuring that they remain responsive to user needs.
  • TCDRs.