An Overview of the NASA Energy and Water cycle Study (NEWS) and the North American Water Program (NAWP)

Monday, 15 December 2014
Paul Raymond Houser, George Mason University Fairfax, Fairfax, VA, United States
NEWS: 10 years ago, NASA established the NASA Energy and Water-cycle Study (NEWS), whose long-term grand challenge is to document and enable improved, observationally based, predictions of water and energy cycle consequences of Earth system variability and change. The NEWS program builds upon existing NASA-supported basic research in atmospheric physics and dynamics, radiation, climate modeling, and terrestrial hydrology. While these NASA programs fund research activities that address individual aspects of the global energy and water cycles, they are not specifically designed to generate a coordinated result. NEWS developed the first coordinated attempt to describe the complete global energy and water cycle using existing and forthcoming satellite and ground based observations, and laying the foundation for essential NEWS developments in model representations of atmospheric energy and water exchange processes. This comprehensive energy and water data analysis program exploited crucial datasets, some requiring complete re-processing, and new satellite measurements.

NAWP: Dramatically changing climates has had an indelible impact on North America’s water crisis. To decisively address these challenges, we recommend that NAWP coalesce an interdisciplinary, international and interagency effort to make significant contributions to continental- to decision-scale hydroclimate science and solutions. By entraining, integrating and coordinating the vast array of interdisciplinary observational and prediction resources available, NAWP will significantly advance skill in predicting, assessing and managing variability and changes in North American water resources. We adopt three challenges to organize NAWP efforts. The first deals with developing a scientific basis and tools for mitigating and adapting to changes in the water supply-demand balance. The second challenge is benchmarking; to use incomplete and uncertain observations to assess water storage and quality dynamics, and to characterize the information content of water cycle predictions in a way that allows for model improvement. The final challenge is to establish clear pathways to inform water managers, practitioners and decision makers about newly developed tools, observations and research results.