Sunday, April 30, 2017
 

Focusing attention on outcomes rather than activities – ends rather than means – is the basis for making rational investment choices, aligning requirements, and clarifying roles and responsibilities.  Goals and enterprise objectives are NOAA’s highest-level outcomes, as specified in the Agency’s Next Generation Strategic Plan; the former are outcomes for society and environment and the latter are outcomes for NOAA itself, in the conduct of its mission.  On the path to achieving these goals and enterprise objectives, there are gaps in our knowledge and capability.  The key questions in this section highlight these gaps and frame our strategic needs for R&D.  R&D objectives under each question represent major steps that NOAA and its partners must take in meeting those needs.  Targets under each R&D objective are the basis for monitoring progress, evaluating approaches, and learning from experience. Not all of NOAA’s R&D targets are provided in this plan; the targets described here are those that merit particular attention or are representative of a broader suite of activities.  Moreover, as the Agency’s strategic situation changes, so too may its targets.   It should also be noted that this Plan contains many elements to pursue and efforts must be prioritized as funds will likely not be available for all topics at all times.

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Goal: Goals and enterprise objectives are taken directly from NOAA’s Next Generation Strategic Plan.  They direct all NOAA activities, including R&D.
Key Question: Questions represent the lack of some knowledge or capability that is needed to achieve NOAA’s goals.   Unanswered questions provide the impetus to do R&D.
Objective for R&D: Objectives in this document are for R&D, not ultimate outcomes or outcomes for regular, even “scientific” operational activities.  They represent steps toward answering the question under which they lie.
Target: Targets describe discrete end-states after (at least) 5 years, not continuous activities to be conducted over a period of 5 years. They are the means of empirically verifying progress toward the objective, to demonstrate value and learn from success or failure. We distinguish between targets with symbols in which a bold “,” “,” or “,” represents an emphasis on research, development, or transition activities, respectively. .
 

Climate Adaptation & Mitigation

State of the Climate 2012

Projected future climate-related changes include increased global air and ocean temperatures, melting sea ice and glaciers, rising sea levels, changes in precipitation, changes in storm frequency and intensity, and changes in atmospheric composition.   Many impacts have already been observed, and significant additional impacts from these changes are expected to affect nearly every sector of society, including water, energy, transportation, insurance, banking, forestry, tourism, fisheries, agriculture, infrastructure, and human health.  

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Weather Ready Nation

Weather Ready Nation Logo A Weather Ready Nation is able to prepare for and respond to environmental events that affect safety, health, the environment, economy, and homeland security.  NOAA’s capacity to provide relevant information can help create a society that is more adaptive to its environment; experiences fewer disruptions, dislocations, and injuries; and that operates a more efficient economy.

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Healthy Oceans

Diver and Jellyfish Coastal communities are dependent upon ecosystem services provided by healthy and productive coastal and marine ecosystems. They provide food, recreational opportunities, and support for economies, yet the resources from our marine, coastal, and Great Lakes environments are stressed by human uses. Habitat changes have depleted fish and shellfish stocks, increased the number of species that are at-risk, and reduced biodiversity. Humans are an integral part of the ecosystem, so declines in ecosystem functioning and quality directly impact human health and well-being.

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Resilient Coastal Communities & Economies

Zebra mussels in the Great Lakes The complex interdependence of ecosystems and economies will grow with increasing uses of land, marine, and coastal resources, resulting in particularly heavy economic and environmental pressures on the Nation’s coastal communities. Continued growth in coastal populations, economic expansion, and global trade will further increase the need for safe and efficient maritime transportation. The interdependence of ecosystems and economies makes coastal and Great Lakes communities increasingly vulnerable to chronic – and potentially catastrophic – impacts of natural and human-induced hazards, including climate change, oil spills, harmful algal blooms, pathogen outbreaks, and severe weather hazards.

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Stakeholder Engagement

Dr. Peter Lamb, Dr. Terry Yosie, and Dr. Alexander MacDonald attend high-level stakeholder meeting at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, DCAs the challenges NOAA must address become more complex, the Agency will need increasingly sophisticated organizational mechanisms to understand user needs and engage stakeholders and customers across local, regional, and international levels. Many of the challenges that NOAA helps address do not stem from a lack of information, but from an uneven distribution of information. The best way for NOAA to meet the needs of its stakeholders is often to better deliver data and knowledge to those who have not yet accessed it. NOAA must fully engage with society to be most effective as a service agency.

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Data & Observations

NOAA observation system of systems NOAA’s mission is rooted in in situ and space-based Earth observations. The Nation’s efforts to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate require accurate, continuous, and comprehensive climate data records. Weather forecasters require observations of the state of the atmosphere and oceans to initiate and verify the models and to make accurate forecasts. Fisheries cannot be sustained without data on current and historical states of the stocks and their living environment. Coastal communities need observations to understand changing coastal ecosystem conditions and manage coastal resources sustainably. Nautical charting and navigation activities require consistent observations of the depth and surface characteristics of the oceans and Great Lakes, and changes that may occur due to ongoing physical processes. Over the long-term, NOAA must sustain and enhance observing systems and their long-term data sets, develop, and transition new observing technologies into operations, while working in close collaboration with its governmental, international, regional, and academic partners.

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Integrated Environmental Modeling

Environmental model visualization To fulfill current and emerging science and service requirements for all of NOAA’s strategic goals, the Agency must ultimately evolve toward an interconnected and comprehensive Earth system modeling enterprise that links atmospheric, oceanic, terrestrial, cryospheric, ecological, and climatic models at time scales ranging seamlessly from hours to decades. This evolution will advance the ability to provide forecasts that incorporate dynamic responses from natural and human systems, and provide internally consistent results at spatial and temporal scales capable of assessing impacts on ecosystem services, economies, and communities. An integrated system will transform existing environmental modeling efforts from disparate enclaves into a coordinated, scientifically robust effort that serves as a foundation for integrated environmental analysis, forecasting, and model-based user support and services.

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