July 25, 2003


P.O. Box 1000, 61 Route 9W Palisades, New York 10964



<> Letter from the Director <>



The week started with CIESIN's celebration of the 5th birthday of their major SEDAC project - an enjoyable reception along with their external advisory user group - congratulations!

I spent Wednesday and Thursday in Salem, Mass at a retreat of the Directors of the major ocean institutions organized by CORE. The goal was the development of a unified strategy for the community in DC so that the agencies and Congress can be given a single consistent story with regard to the budgetary priorities. We made some progress in the right direction on this, but there remains a ways to go.

Both Rita Colwell (NSF Director) and Conrad Lautenbacher (NOAA head) attended. Rita’s speech focused upon the recent accomplishments of NSF supported ocean research - gas hydrates, hydrothermal vents, core-mantle interactions, abrupt climate change and carbon cycle. She admonished us for doing an inadequate job of getting the general public excited about the oceans, and she encouraged us to take better advantage of the funding opportunities provided by NSF's new targeted programs (Like Biocomplexity).

Conrad Lautenbacher's speech was focused upon the profound challenges associate with trying to manage the complex beast that is NOAA.  He emphasized the difficulties resulting from the fact that roughly ten percent of this total budget (around $3.27B) consists of hard earmarks over which he has no control. He has ambitious plans for restructuring NOAA's budget into a form that it can be defended more effectively. He specifically encouraged closer and more direct interactions between the academic community and NOAA research labs and I spoke with him specifically about our hopes of forging stronger ties with Ants Leetmaa and colleagues at GFDL.

The meeting was held in the Peabody Essex Museum in Salem - a stunning location reopened only a few months ago after multi million dollar renovations.  The museum was founded in the seventeen hundreds as a private organization by Salem sea captains traveling to the Far East, as a place to exhibit and share the art work that they traded or otherwise 'liberated' during their voyages to the Western Pacific. Since then a magnificent marine collection has been added and it has grown to be a pre-eminent museum.

Next week is dominated by the visit of three NSF program managers on Monday (please attend their presentation on NSF's Cyberinfrastructure initiative at 11:15 am in the Monell Auditorium) and a day on Capitol Hill on Wednesday, with the reception for the Earth Observation Summit at the Library of Congress in the evening. So it will be Friday again before I know it.

Speaking of DC, it is important to remember that the climate change acronym USGCRP, that has dominated our lives for many a year, is being succeeded by the new USCCSP and the final version of the Strategic Plan for the US Climate Change Science Program (CCSP) has just been released:

If you do not wish to take the time to read this 300-odd page document, the five key goals of the CCSP are:

- Improve knowledge of the Earth's past and present climate and environment, including its natural variability, and improve understanding of the causes of observed variability and change.
- Improve quantification of the forces bringing about changes in the Earth's climate and related systems.
- Reduce uncertainty in projections of how the Earth's climate and related systems may change in the future.
- Understand the sensitivity and adaptability of different natural and managed ecosystems and human systems to climate and related global changes.
- Explore the uses and identify the limits of evolving knowledge to manage risks and opportunities related to climate variability and change.

The sun shines and the sky is blue. Have a great weekend,

- Mike


* Previous reports can be found at -
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