Ag Commissioners from the Western States Visit NOAA


August 2, 2006

In response to a request from the Colorado Department of Agriculture, the Earth System Research Laboratory hosted the Western State Departments of Agriculture Association (WASDA). WASDA 2006 held their annual summer meeting in Estes Park, July 27-30. These Agriculture Commissioners from the western states, with a particular interest in weather and climate research, were delighted to visit the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and hear about the latest trends in climate research. They also received a brief overview of the wide range of research conducted in the David Skaggs Research Center before going to a Science On a SphereŞ presentation.

Of particular interest to this group was a presentation on the National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) given by Dr. Robert Webb. With increasing vulnerability to drought, this project intends to improve monitoring, early warning and drought prediction. In the Western Governors' Association (WGA) report "Creating a National Drought Early Warning System," NOAA has been identified as the lead agency in the development and the implementation of NIDIS. To meet this challenge, Dr. Roger Pulwarty recently joined the NOAA Climate Program Office as the new director of NIDIS. Dr. Pulwarty will direct the development and operation of the NIDIS program within NOAA, as well as be a focal point for coordination with other federal, regional and state agencies and offices involved in NIDIS. The NIDIS office will be initially housed in Boulder at the David Skaggs Research Center, in the Earth System Research Laboratory, in order to facilitate close cooperation with the western states.

Background:
The Earth System Research Laboratory hosts visitors in response to requests from various sectors including the general public, education and scientific communities, private industry, government agencies and foreign dignitaries. These visits intended to educate, inform, and build collaborations are arranged according to specific interests. Scientists are often requested to present the latest in science and technology research being conducted at NOAA.

Significance:
The National Integrated Drought Information System (NIDIS) is a new program aimed to better understand and predict long-term drought in North America and is a valuable contribution to NOAA's mission goals of understanding climate variability and change to enhance society's ability to plan and respond, and of serving society's needs for weather and water information. The Western States Agriculture Commissioners, with concerns regarding the drought and impact on the agriculture community, were particularly interested in NIDIS. Informing and partnering with this group in the development of NIDIS and other research activities, will ensure that NOAA implements national climate and weather information systems that deliver the data, the products and the services needed by businesses, academia and government agencies for risk management planning, operations, and research.

Contact: Robert Webb