Request for Information: Earth System Predictability Research and Development

April 14, 2020

*May 15, 2020 update from NASA SMD*

 Original Closing Date: May 15th 2020.

Revised Closing Date: June 1st 2020 5 PM Eastern Time.  For any additional information or questions concerning this Request for Information email esp@ostp.eop.gov attention the NSTC Executive Director, Chloe Kontos, and include “RFI Response: ESP” in the subject line.*

The White House National Science and Technology Council (NSTC)'s Fast Track Action Committee for Earth System Predictability (ESP-FTAC) requests public input on future Earth system predictability research and development activities of Federal agencies as well as their partnerships with the external community.  

Requested information pertains to the practical needs that could be addressed by this Earth system predictability research effort and the socio-economic benefits that could result from it, current gaps and barriers that are holding back progress, and opportunities for key activities that could be most valuable, including transformative “big ideas,” with regard to understanding Earth system predictability.

Read the full text and provide input.

An excerpt of this RFI is cross-posted below:

Summary

The National Science and Technology Council's (NSTC's) Fast Track Action Committee for Earth System Predictability (ESP-FTAC) requests public input on future Earth system predictability research and development (R&D) activities of Federal agencies as well as their partnerships with the external community.  Requested information pertains to the practical needs that could be addressed by this Earth system predictability research effort and the socio-economic benefits that could result from it, current gaps and barriers that are holding back progress, and opportunities for key activities that could be most valuable, including transformative “big ideas,” with regard to understanding Earth system predictability.

Context/Background

Knowing the extent to which components of the Earth system are practicably predictable - from individual thunderstorms to long-term global change - is vitally important for physical understanding of the Earth system (as it pertains to atmosphere-biota-hydrosphere components), assessing the value of predictions, guiding Federal investments, developing effective policy, and improving predictive skill.  In the Memorandum “Fiscal Year 2021 Administration Research and Development Budget Priorities” (https://www.whitehouse.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/FY-21-RD-Budget-Pr...), Departments and agencies are directed to prioritize R&D in the area of Earth system predictability as follows:

  1. Focus on identifying R&D to quantify Earth system predictability across multiple phenomena, time, and space scales;
  2. Consider strategic coordination and leveraging of resources across agencies on research and modeling efforts that can accelerate progress in this area;
  3. Emphasize how measures of and limits to predictability, both theoretical and actual, can inform a wide array of stakeholders; and
  4. Explore the application of artificial intelligence (AI) and adaptive observing systems to improve understanding leading to enhanced predictive skill, along with strategies for obtaining substantial improvements in computational model performance and spatial resolution across all scales.

The NSTC established the ESP-FTAC in February 2020 for specific coordination around the Earth system predictability R&D priority.  Responses to this RFI will help to inform discussions on future R&D activities that could be most valuable, or even transformative, with regard to understanding Earth system predictability.  For these purposes, the following distinction is made here  between predictability and prediction:

Predictability:  A measure of whether, and to what extent, an event or behavior of a system is practicably predictable (practicably here indicates theory that can be put into practice successfully).

Prediction/projection:  Different from predictability, prediction/projection generally refers to an estimate of the future derived in a variety of ways.

This RFI focuses on predictability R&D, as a means of assessing the value of predictions, guiding Federal investments, developing effective policy, and improving predictive skill with regard to Earth system predictability.  The latter is defined here as potentially involving processes encompassing the physical-biogeochemical spheres and human interactions across atmosphere-biota-hydrosphere Earth system components and across multiple spatial/temporal scales from individual storms to century-long global change.

With this focus in mind, we ask for feedback on the following questions:

1. Needs and benefits: What are the major needs/requirements for enhanced Earth system predictions/projections (anomalies, extremes and trends), to improve societal resilience and inform decisions, that are being only partially met or are unmet because of limitations in our understanding of Earth system predictability? What would be the socio-economic benefits of more adequately fulfilling these requirements/needs? Which new and/or enhanced Earth system predictions/projections could result from a successful Earth system predictability R&D effort?

Responses should define the primary entities that are currently driving the needs/requirements and how those are likely to change out to 2030; describe which needs/requirements are only partially met or are unmet; and quantify the socio-economic benefits of Earth system predictability R&D, as feasible.

 2. Gaps and barriers: What are the top three R&D gaps/barriers that are inhibiting progress in the understanding of Earth system predictability to meet needs/requirements (as highlighted under Question 1) across the following areas:  a) observations and process research; b) modeling, technology, and infrastructure; and c) coordination and partnerships?

Responses may focus on top three Earth system R&D priority gaps/barriers cutting across areas a)-c) above, focusing on select ones as appropriate and providing a high level description of the issues.

3. Opportunities and activities: What are the top three R&D opportunities and related activities for making substantial progress in the understanding of Earth system predictability towards the enhancement of Earth system predictions/projections?

Responses should consider which opportunities/activities would be most valuable and may include one transformative “big idea” among the top three R&D opportunities that are highlighted. Highlighted opportunities could involve new and/or enhanced activities that cut across the following areas, as appropriate: a) observations and process research; b) modeling, technology, and infrastructure; and c) coordination and partnerships. For each of the three highlighted opportunities (potentially including one “big idea”, as appropriate), responders should provide: goals, activities, and main expected outcomes; also specify whether it could be addressed in the next 1 to 2 years under current programs or whether it is longer term and needs additional resources.

More here.


This page last updated 05/15/2020 - 15:51