Ten-Year Vision Study
Report to the Council of the AMS
by the Planning Commission

Fall 1998

The Charge

     Article ii of the AMS Constitution states, "The objectives of this society are the development and dissemination of knowledge of the atmospheric and related oceanic and hydrologic sciences and the advancement of their professional applications."

     On 26 September 1996, the Council charged the Planning Commission to undertake a study yielding a ten-year vision of the Society. A study that would consider the external changes and what they imply for the Society.

The Context

     The Commission has attempted to examine the evolution of the AMS, current trends, and likely future trends in our profession and society at large. Among the documents, data, and prior studies examined, meetings held, and inputs considered were a Staff review of the past AMS decisions and discussions; the "AMS 2000 Strategic Review"; the Membership Outreach Survey conducted under President Paul Try; public meetings held by members of the Commission; responses to questions posed on the AMS Web site; parts of three sessions of the AMS Council and the Executive Committee were devoted to the ten-year vision; a special two-day meeting of the Planning Commission and the Executive Committee in Washington, D.C., in December 1997; a town meeting was held at the annual meeting in Phoenix, Arizona, in 1998; and regular meetings of the Planning Commission were held. A number of thoughtful and detailed inputs were received from individual members.

     Figures 1–7 give a picture of the AMS membership and our professional affiliation as we enter the twenty-first century.

     Figures 8–17 give indices of our professional activity. Figures 18–22 offer insight into the academic and federal activity that to an extent defines the environment in which we function. All indices of activity indicate a maturing of our sciences and strong public support through public funding and patronization of the private sector. However, there are some indications that the growth of the Society membership has not been what would be expected to accompany the increases in the budget and public interest that have occurred. More professionals are listed in the Bulletin, pages of publications have grown rapidly, meetings are more frequent and well attended, more educational institutions are offering degrees, federal budgets have grown to keep pace with the requirements of the public. Scholarships and fellowships have grown rapidly.

     A picture emerges of a strong and dynamic society that has evolved over 79 years, adjusting to changes in the environment and to societal needs. The membership is supportive and involved. It is also apparent that the pace of change in our fields and our environment has increased and the AMS will serve its members and society well only if it is sensitive and responsive to these changes.

     Five areas worthy of emphasis were identified. These areas overlap and interact, but for purposes of discussion are as follows.


Refinement of our quantitative approach to weather and climate predictions based upon scientific understanding has required more intensive research and integration of knowledge in areas such as oceanography, hydrology, ecology, the upper atmosphere, solar–terrestrial relations, and their chemistry. These and other fields have become more and more integrated into the meteorological and hydrological enterprise. Many scientists and engineers whose training was not in meteorology are playing vital and growing roles in our field. We are a more diverse and multidisciplinarity society in every way. Many of the problems we face require collaboration among many disciplines. Thus the Commission concluded that the trend toward multidisciplinarity will be a dominating theme through the next 10 years. We must constantly review all of our activities in light of the multidisciplinary nature of meteorology itself and the myriad allied science and engineering disciplines now essential to conduct our research and to produce and apply our products.


The AMS must be a more "inclusive" society. The private sector, including radio and television and industrial applications, is growing rapidly. There are many nonmembers as well as members that are engaged in developing observational systems and databases and display and dissemination systems. The AMS should find ways to reach out to those who generate, apply, and disseminate our products as well as to our scientific and professional base. Greater inclusiveness also means closer ties to similar societies in foreign countries, as well as reaching out to weather enthusiasts.

     As has been the case for many years, inclusiveness must embrace our efforts to be sure that all segments of society participate in our professions. This embraces efforts to encourage women and minorities in their educational and professional pursuits and to involve them in the activities and governance of the AMS.

     Better and more varied products of our science will require reaching out to users of information to make them aware of the products and educate them as to how they can be used and their limitations. By the same token, meetings with groups of users may reveal the need for new products.


The public response to improved meteorological and hydrological products and understanding, and perceived vulnerability to a changing environment, has greatly expanded the demand for weather information. Interest has intensified at all levels of society. The AMS must therefore place greater emphasis upon reaching out to the broad spectrum of our public. From schoolchildren through the working public and retirement communities, the public requires information. At the same time, our professions require public financial support for research, education, and new observational and dissemination systems.

     At the same time the proportion of professionals in the private sector has grown to be equal to those in the public sector, the magnitude of federal funding for both operations and research has grown greatly and its influence on all facets of our professions has grown proportionately. The need to justify support of that funding becomes more important to all of us and to our ability to continue to improve services to society. All elements of our profession must work together to develop the resources to accomplish our goals. If any one element stands out in our surveys and discussions, it is that we must pay great attention to having a positive impact on public policy. This implies the AMS should have more activities and outreach directed to decision makers as well as the generation of grassroots public support through education of the public.

Communications and computer technology

Communication technology is affecting, and will at an accelerated pace, heavily impact upon how the AMS interacts with its members and how our meetings are conducted and our publications propagated. Computers have been at the core of almost all recent advances in our sciences and the explosive increase in the power of individual workstations has allowed sophisticated graphical multimedia displays to be delivered to the scientist’s desktop. We already see electronic publications and have a leading-edge model in Earth Interactions. As this technology continues to advance, the ability to deliver scientific information in ways that transcend the limitations of the printed page will advance as well. Further, distributed "live" communication and virtual conferences, only being experimented with on a limited scale at the present time, will become a practical avenue for the type of communication currently carried out through traditional conferences and meetings. This technology has the potential to profoundly affect the way AMS meetings are conducted. Therefore, the AMS should continue to remain at the forefront of the electronic evolution in the full range of Society services, including publications, outreach, and meetings activities.

Finances and development

Crosscutting all of our deliberations is how to provide the financial support for current and any added services the AMS may contemplate. Many of the changes that seem inevitable will require increased expenditures and may not lead to concomitant increases in revenue. This leads to priority setting and increased efforts to raise the level and continuity of fund-raising efforts. Income from endowment has made possible a number of our initiatives in the past.

     We have not attempted to evaluate each and every current AMS activity. This does not imply by not doing so that any activity should be discontinued. However, to the degree that the major thrusts suggest new or enlarged activities, it is clear that it will be necessary to review all activities and priorities set according to what the budget and the energies of staff and membership will permit.

     In the chapters that follow, we attempt to suggest some things we must focus upon and some suggestions of actions that will help our profession to meet the challenges of the next decade and assure public support of our efforts. All to improve our science and its uses by the people of the world for the preservation of life and improving their material well-being.

     The Commission makes recommendations derived to a large degree from interactions with the membership that the Council and membership may want to keep in the front of their minds as we go into the next century and also lists a few specific suggestions as to how those challenges and opportunities might be met.

     Our objectives are unchanged from those stated in Article ii of the Constitution.

     This is a call for evolution — not revolution.



     Chapter 1 — Multidisciplinarity

     Chapter 2 — Inclusiveness

     Chapter 3 — Outreach

     Chapter 4 — Communications and computer technology

     Chapter 5 — Finances and development

     Chapter 6 — Recommendations

CHAPTER 1 — Multidisciplinarity

     Many atmospheric processes cannot be fully analyzed, understood and predicted if treated as isolated components of the earth system. Consequently, while atmospheric science will remain central to the activities of the AMS during the coming decade, the broad quest for understanding, leading to prediction and applications, must be pursued in a multidisciplinary setting. For example, the remarkable advances in predictions of climate anomalies such as El Niño/Southern Oscillation required a multidisciplinary effort. Multidisciplinary topics reflect areas of common interest and goals for a variety of disciplines, which in turn lead to common requirements from technology, and common needs for public and political support.

     Fundamental to this effort will be the identification and emphasis of those multidisciplinary topics that have particularly strong links to the atmospheric sciences. Examples include fluid dynamics; air–sea interaction; hydrometeorology and water resources; analysis and modeling of coupled land–ocean–atmosphere interactions; interactions involving atmospheric chemistry, radiation, and dynamics in the more general context of biogeochemical cycles; upper atmospheric processes; integrated environmental observing systems; human dimensions of weather and climate; and a variety of other climate science and global change issues.

     The AMS has already made significant efforts to address multidisciplinary themes, particularly those that closely link meteorology with hydrology, physical oceanography, and a broad spectrum of climate science. In addition to oceanography and hydrology, areas such as ecology, solar–terrestrial relations, the upper atmosphere, and their chemistry all represent fields of strong interaction. Human health problems related to climate and weather are becoming better understood. In order to better serve a more diverse membership, we believe the AMS must significantly increase and broaden these efforts during the coming decade by (a) expanding the scope of activities that promote and serve atmospherically related multidisciplinary initiatives in research and applications, and, (b) expanding the breadth of professionalism to include all those involved in these activities, regardless of their primary discipline affiliation.

     A comprehensive multidisciplinary initiative will cut across most of the major activities of the Society, for example, organization, scientific and technical communication, professional recognition, and professional outreach. The Scientific and Technical Activities Commission (STAC) can be an important vehicle for entraining the needed scientists. Multidisciplinary topics need to be more strongly reflected in the structure and activities of the committees. This may require the modification of the composition and/or mission statements of some existing committees to reflect changes of focus and activities, as well as establishing mechanisms that foster closer cooperation between committees around particular multidisciplinary topics. The suggestion has been made that STAC could be organized in a few larger groupings with a number of subgroups.

     Enhancing the multidisciplinary aspects of scientific communication in the AMS will naturally focus on the scientific and technical publications and meetings of the Society. Scientific communication will undergo fundamental changes during the next decade, and this challenge is addressed in other initiatives of the Society. The move toward a more multidisciplinary flavor in our publications has been on going for some time. The combination of Journal of Atmospheric and Oceanic Technology and Journal of Physical Oceanography is without peer in oceanography. The highly successful Journal of Climate is another example of the response of the AMS to multidisciplinary research. Earth Interactions is a pioneering move in the direction of interdisciplinary electronic publications.

     In some cases a multidisciplinary topic may have matured sufficiently to consider establishing a new journal. An example might be a new Journal of Hydrometeorology in response to the rapid growth and maturation of multidisciplinary scientific hydrology in the AMS. In other cases, the topic might be addressed by changes in the structure and mission statements, as well as the editorial expertise of existing journals. Some topics may be adequately covered by more frequent publication of comprehensive monographs. The AMS Bulletin may be a vehicle for raising the level of visibility for interdisciplinary topics.

     Meetings are central to an effective multidisciplinary initiative. The multidisciplinary themes that now characterize many of the annual meetings is a step in this direction. Joint sponsorship of meetings also provides a natural means of drawing diverse communities together. Coupled with the more general meetings is a need for topical meetings of the Chapman Conference type that are focused on a relatively narrow multidisciplinary issue. Such meetings are an attractive and efficient way to gain information and interact with colleagues sharing a common interest.

     Unlike most scientific organizations, the AMS serves a large operational community. Multidisciplinary activities should clearly include service to and involvement of this community. Meetings and workshops organized around specific topics of common interest, as, for example, a workshop on hydrologic prediction and water resources for hydrologists and meteorologists, can be especially effective in building bridges between operational communities.

     Coupled with the broadened scientific activities must be a broadened perspective on professionalism in the AMS. This includes reevaluation of what constitutes a Member, and how the related sciences should be reflected on the Council and in the structure and composition of the Boards of the Commission on Professional Affairs and the Boards of the Commission on Education and Human Resources.

     Intimately related to this question are issues of scientific recognition and outreach. The AMS strives to recognize the broad community in bestowing fellowships. We believe that there is also a need to encourage movement toward a more multidisciplinary balance in the large number and variety of scientific and service awards presented by the Society. In additional to consideration of new awards, the criteria and/or practices used in choosing the recipients of existing awards might be reevaluated. For example, consideration might be given to broadening the multidisciplinary criteria for some awards, as for example the Walter Orr Roberts Award, and encouraging stronger consideration of hydrologists for the AMS operational awards.

     We also believe that the multidisciplinary initiative should include a broadened outreach to the foreign and university communities. Entraining more non-U.S. scientists involved in related non-meteorology subspecialities would enrich the Society and strengthen our international links. For example, there can be a deliberate outreach to oceanographic institutions and scientists in other countries. This might then result in improved collaboration in international oceanographic projects that require special clearances for U.S. oceanographers to work in other national waters.

     University departments that train graduate and undergraduate students in hydrology, oceanography, and other related disciplines need to be more comprehensively included in our educational interactions and outreach activities. A broadened program of student awards, along the lines of the Macelwane Award and the STAC student scientific awards can be especially effective in fostering diversity if they target young scientists who can be drawn into the multidisciplinary arena of AMS activities early in their careers, and subsequently develop into influential members of the Society.

CHAPTER 2 — Inclusiveness

     Membership statistics show clearly that the private sector, including radio and TV has grown faster than all other sectors of our profession. According to our survey completed in 1996 (see Fig. 4) 33% of our members were employed by the government, including the military; 28% were in the private sector, including broadcasting; and 28% were engaged in academic or research positions at universities, government laboratories, of nonprofit organizations. The remaining 11% were retired or indicated they were in categories other than those listed. Figure 14 shows that professional ads in the Bulletin have gone from 20 in the 1950s to 120 in the 1990s, a sixfold increase. The perceived divergence of interests between theoretical researchers and the operational meteorologist or hydrologist has led to formation of several organizations outside of the AMS to fill the needs of private and operational professionals.

     In addition, advances in our science and its applications have become heavily intertwined with almost every profession. Sometimes science leads technology and often today, the technology leads to new science, new insights, and improvements in our ability to perform traditional analysis and prediction functions. A great number of engineers, technologists, and scientists trained in fields such as physics, chemistry, computer sciences, biology, etc. are playing important roles in meteorology, hydrology, and oceanography and are making their careers as team players in atmospheric and hydrospheric sciences. Atmospheric chemistry has been one of the fastest growing areas of research and is finding its way into global atmospheric modeling. Large numbers of people are engaged in developing observational systems and new databases. In addition, weather enthusiasts in general must be considered as players in our field.

     The AMS should look for opportunities to entrain these individuals into its activities to a greater degree than is happening currently. This can happen through the structure of meetings, publications, and inclusion in our STAC process. The result can be a better level of interchange on a scientific and technical level and stronger recognition of the role of these allied fields.

     Very often in human affairs at all levels, individuals or groups fail to see the interests and goals they have in common and view themselves in a competition, to the detriment of their common interest. We are productive in part because of the value placed upon competition; however, there are limits beyond which actions detrimental to mutual best interests can result. It must be the role of the leadership of a society such as the AMS to present the larger picture in such a way as not to totally eliminate competition but to place the common goals and larger picture in sufficiently plain view as to promote cooperation and collaboration and minimize outright conflicts.

     In the AMS case, we have seen "forecasters" feel alienated from the "scientists," private sector practitioners from government employees. The academics compete for research funds with government laboratories, NCAR, etc. Some of the conflicts are real and others are primarily differences in perception. The concept of a constant or shrinking pie to be divided must be replaced by the reality that working together the pie can grow to a size in accordance with public needs as the public perceives them.

     The public, through taxes to the government and fees to private sectors, supports all of these sectors directly or indirectly primarily in the hope of obtaining predictions and other data useful in decision making.

     Academics teach future meteorologists and initiate research that is usually federally supported. Government and private laboratories advance research and technology at federal expense. In general, the federal government provides public forecasts and severe weather and flood warnings. The private sector provides tailored prediction for specific times, places, and needs, and through radio, TV, Internet, etc. has taken on the major communication role to the general public, whether they disseminate federal forecasts and warnings, products supplied by other private sector entities, or their own particularized products. All of these activities are interdependent and complement one another and in an ideal world all of the entities involved should be boosters for all of the other sectors. Our ever more diverse professional community will need to see clearly its common interests and goals and the interdependence of all facets of our professions.

     There are interfaces where competition exists. It is at these interfaces where the AMS could play a role in mediating and making clear the interdependence. This can be done through discussion groups, personal communication, meetings of concerned parties, etc.

     We recommend that the AMS should sponsor high-level, across the breadth of our disciplines, symposia devoted to discussing the health of the profession, the ways in which the private sector, government services, the universities, and private and public research entities can work together for the benefit of all. Where apparent conflict or competition exists, means of minimizing it should be devised.

     The atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrological sciences are among the most international of science, technology, and practice. There are many challenges common to these professions that embrace all nations, as reflected by the existence of the World Meteorological Organization and the extensive activities in meteorology within ICSU. Within meteorology, especially, there is a long tradition of free and open data exchange and cooperation in research. The AMS should work to maintain this international cooperation in the face of mounting pressures to erode it, and should promote it as a model for other scientific disciplines. This can be accomplished through AMS participation in national and international affairs and through increased collaboration between the AMS and the meteorological societies of other nations.

     Many countries still have very weak meteorological, oceanographic, and hydrological professional societies and operational units. The professions as a whole might be strengthened by collaboration and encouragement of these organizations through closer and stronger affiliation between the AMS and the established societies throughout the world.

     Thus we recommend that joint meetings, special events at AMS annual meetings, and joint publications be continued or initiated to intensify our interaction with the related professional societies of other nations. All of this will advance the goals of the profession to advance the sciences, to promote their professional applications, and to help disseminate knowledge of the atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrological sciences.

     Many AMS members do not operate in an environment where extended travel to distant meetings is possible. Their only interaction on a person-to-person basis may be in their daily work or through local chapter events.

     There are a number of individuals who are professionals (engineers, computer scientists, etc.) in positions that provide key support roles working with the development, application, display, and dissemination of atmospheric, hydrologic, and oceanic information emphasizing the new technology associated with these activities. Where possible, the AMS should seek to provide service to these individuals and include them under the umbrella of the Society. If this is successful, such inclusiveness could raise morale in the various services and public support to a new level. A magazine has been suggested as one avenue to provide service to this group. It could include articles on the latest technology and techniques for providing forecasts or other applications. The inclusion of the latest technology (instruments, workstation/PC, software applications, etc.) and large distribution (potentially a large fraction of the membership) might make this publication attractive for support through advertising.

     Local chapters may be able to increase the participation of these individuals by sponsoring regional meetings on topics of special interest to the region. The advantage would be that travel time and costs are minimized for the members and regional meetings on topics of local interest would likely gain good media coverage in the region thus raising public consciousness of the topic. Examples might be: Great Lakes snowstorms, Gulf coast hurricanes, spring floods in the upper Mississippi basin, ice storms in New England, etc. Local chapters can also foster inclusiveness by the bringing together of researchers, teachers, and operational personnel in both the public and private sectors. The local settings with the likelihood of the development of strong personal relationships could go far to reduce some of the perceived lack of appreciation of one group for another.

CHAPTER 3 — Outreach

     The goal of increasing the Society’s outreach includes a variety if issues and a variety of communities that the AMS can serve through improved communication and education. From increasing the awareness of all segments of the public to the improvements of meteorological and hydrological products and understanding — and the impact these improvements have on their lives — to continuing education programs for professional development within our own professions, the AMS has a responsibility to carry out extensive outreach activities.

     It is clear that while our scientific challenges remain formidable, we have made great progress in observing and understanding atmospheric processes and in our predictive capabilities. Forecasts for five days are now as good or better than those for three days 25 years ago. Watches and warnings are issued farther in advance and false alarm rates have fallen dramatically. An increased understanding of global-scale interactions between the atmosphere and oceans has led to useful predictions of climate anomalies for coming months and even seasons. Landfall for hurricanes is more accurately pinpointed, etc. We know we can do even better. This progress generates demand and engages us more intensively with government and industrial society. Global economic competition demands improved productivity and loss reduction. Our national enterprise requires seeking the advantages achieved through knowledge of the atmosphere and hydrosphere. The push of our progress and the pull of societal needs will have a profound, stimulating impact on our profession. The entire social enterprise is becoming more weather sensitive and the public is more interested and fascinated with our fields.

     The challenges of the next decade will take us more deeply into understanding both our science and the human responses and activities influenced by weather, climate, the oceans, and hydrological phenomena. Recent impacts of scientific discovery on public policy such as has occurred with ozone depletion, El Niño, and greenhouse warming demonstrate clearly the trend toward a greater level of engagement with society.

     Increased public awareness of our progress and the utility of our products have whetted the appetite for more and better products and information and, in some cases, public expectations exceed our current abilities. As our enterprises occupy a more prominent role in society, we must speak more clearly and with a louder and more coordinated voice to a much broader audience.

     During the 1990s the Society has expanded somewhat its traditional emphasis on excellent journals and meetings, by undertaking increasing outreach activities related to 1) input to federal policy and budget discussions related to research, monitoring, and operations in the atmospheric–environmental–hydrological fields; 2) public information directed toward youth, weather enthusiasts, and the general, interested public; and 3) education at all levels from K–12 academic resource developments through specialized graduate programs. These activities have successfully expanded the professional impact of the Society, while the core journal and meeting activities of the Society have grown — with high quality maintained. A fourth area of outreach that has been identified for increased AMS activity is fostering increased collaboration between the public and private sectors. Each of these areas is expanded upon below.

1. Input to federal policy

a. AMS policy statements

     The Society has long experience with the development of policy statements on appropriate aspects of atmospheric and environmental issues. The statements address key public questions and have generally been well regarded. However, the statements often take too long to draft, review, and approve; also the target audience for statements needs periodic reconsideration. The AMS should continue to issue statements keeping in mind that we can be most effective in laying out the scientific underpinnings of public issues along with the uncertainties. Key planning questions include 1) re-definition of the purposes and goals of the statements, including the intended target audiences(s); 2) methods to streamline the drafting, review, and final approval of statements; 3) consideration of inclusion of summary statements (targeted at a more general readership) with each statement; and 4) how can the AMS play a positive role in guaranteeing the validity of materials available on the Web in our sciences?

b. Support of federal programs

     Federal budgets have profound effects upon the long-term support for nearly every aspect of the atmospheric and related sciences. The AMS has a unique position and responsibility to speak for its members on the use of public funds and public policy issues affecting the atmospheric and hydrologic sciences, with careful consideration of the need not to exceed the 10% legal limits for lobbying. We would do well to follow the example of the University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) in sending out alerts on pending issues to our members and local chapters along with the names and addresses of legislators or executives who can impact decisions on the topic. Key planning questions to be addressed by the Society include the priorities for AMS information activities related to the following: 1) weather research, 2) weather and climate technology advances (observing platforms, computers, models, trained personnel, and in-service training), 3) observing systems, 4) exploratory research, and 5) undergraduate and graduate education.

c. Influencing public policy related to the atmospheric and related sciences

     The Society may find it useful to assist associations that represent industries whose activities are sensitive to weather and climate in their efforts to enhance programs in the atmospheric and related sciences and the application of these sciences to their needs. The key planning issues to be addressed include the type of involvement by the Society, the avoidance of conflicts of interest, and the issues to be addressed by these mechanisms. The key to avoiding entanglement in political or economic issues is to focus upon the scientific issues on which we can speak objectively.

2. Outreach to weather enthusiasts, professionals in support positions, and the general public

a. Weather enthusiasts

     Future support for the atmospheric and environmental sciences, and future growth of understanding of the need for natural resource protection, depends upon increasing levels of scientific literacy in the student and general populations — in particular among leadership groups. Ten-year planning issues for the AMS include the evaluation of appropriate public information and education programs the Society might undertake, analysis of the effectiveness of existing AMS education programs in enhancing scientific literacy in the broader population, and consideration of possible collaboration between AMS and other scientific (and similar) organizations in pursuing public information activities.

     Local AMS chapters can have a major role in our outreach program. Local chapters can provide an important impetus to our outreach to schools, the general public, other professions, local government, etc. Some have suggested that the AMS undertake the publication of a popular magazine similar to Weatherwise, which is currently a private enterprise effort with no AMS connection.

     One of the consensus items growing out of the Commission activities was the need for AMS to reach out to amateurs, enthusiasts, students, and teachers.

     A specific example

     To show that it is not unreasonable to envision a role for the AMS in this area, consider the following illustrative specific plan for a popular magazine.

      Consider a popular magazine called "Weather, Climate, and Water," for example. The AMS on contract with, or subsidized by, the NWS or NOAA (or possibly by Interior, Corps of Engineers, Agriculture, FEMA) would publish the magazine. The core initial mailing list would be the 11,000 coop observers and the 30,000+ spotters used by the NWS. To this could be added Emergency management workers, agricultural extension offices, water management personnel, etc., plus the millions of other enthusiasts. The nongovernment component could be charged a small fee to cover costs. Possible content could be stories on recent weather events, recent advances in knowledge, items on how budgets affect the quality of services, heroes in emergencies, organizational successes in preventing losses, strategies to minimize losses, climate change, what is happening to the West Antarctic ice sheet, how has abnormal weather affected crops, disease, etc?

     Clearly most professionals will avail themselves of information via electronic means and the AMS Web site will need to supply this. Some amateur enthusiasts will also, but most volunteer observers and enthusiasts would in our opinion, appreciate a palpable publication. Education, information on the science, news of operations and observations, letters, and pictures from enthusiasts and professionals could produce a lively publication. Some of this is available in diverse publications but not in one handy place. The failure of some early attempts in this direction should not discourage the AMS from doing it better. Up-front subsidies would seem to be a key element.

b. Using broadcast meteorologists to reach the public

     The AMS has a unique communications resource for educational initiatives and other outreach activities — the large number of members in the broadcast sector who have unique, daily access to a significant fraction of the U.S. population. Even recognizing that the commercial broadcast environment does not provide an open platform for communication, there are occasional opportunities to promote public learning of atmospheric and environmental concepts, and to note educational and career opportunities in some cases. A key planning question is the evaluation of these opportunities, and the consideration of the benefits of developing resource materials for use in the broadcast environment.

c. "Good news" stories

     The atmospheric sciences and related fields have witnessed major improvements in observation, forecasting, system modeling, information presentation, and long-term (climate timescale) analysis during the past 10 years. Moreover the future societal needs for even better skills are widely recognized. Often these significant improvements, generally recognized by the public, are not cited where they would enhance various public statements. The AMS should consider making better use of such success stories as elements of future public statements.

     Symposia for science writers on topical subjects were held in the past and should be initiated again.

d. High-profile public information vehicles

     The "Star Date" daily astronomy briefings carried by National Public Radio provide a high level of visibility for developments in astronomy and space science. A planning question for the Society is whether a similar vehicle aimed at atmospheric phenomena would be effective. If so, the questions of AMS involvement (sponsorship, support, or observer) should be addressed.

3. Education activities

a. Outreach to K–12 teachers

     The society has been highly successful in developing instructional materials on the earth–atmosphere system, teacher training, and resource networks of teachers for scholastic systems throughout the United States. This brings two types of benefit: the scientific literacy of the general student population is increased and the higher education and broader career opportunities are introduced to qualified students. Key issues for the next 10 years include 1) AMS resources to be committed to build on the accomplishments to date, 2) roles (and possible limitations) of other sponsors for further growth of these programs, and 3) expansion of coverage to broader environmental and earth science instructional resources (possibly in collaboration with other organizations).

b. Continuing education for professionals

     New horizons have opened for continuing education of professionals using the Internet and course materials available at Web sites. We are in a fast moving field, both with respect to scientific knowledge and operational techniques and applications. The AMS, working with universities, UCAR, and federal agencies, broadcast meteorologists, and the WMO, should identify the need for instructional materials, identify the entity who has or will develop them, and either serve as broker or originator to facilitate their availability to its members.

     There is an opportunity here for international collaboration and exchange on a level never before possible. Many developing countries could benefit from access to educational materials.

     Funding for such efforts should be a part of any U.S. or U.N. aid initiatives for developing countries and the AMS could be the catalyst to bring this about. Special symposia held or parts of meetings could be recorded and made available to anyone interested.

c. Scholarship/fellowship programs

     The AMS has been uniquely successful in developing institutional and individual support for undergraduate scholarship and graduate fellowship programs, aimed at introducing highly qualified students to the atmospheric and related sciences. During the 1990s these activities have grown beyond the highest expectations expressed by members in 1990. Key planning issues include 1) how to sustain the high-level of activity reached in recent years; 2) how to provide for long-term program support, to supplement the program of annual sponsorship commitments; and 3) how to maximize the effectiveness of the program in attracting and retaining key future leaders in our field.

4. Public–private sector collaboration

     Many questions of public and private sector interaction on the development and use of atmospheric and other environmental information and data have arisen in recent years. Recognizing the diversity of the private sector, the Society can serve all of its members, as well as the national interest, by offering its resources to address aspects of these questions in the context of a nongovernment professional organization. Planning questions to be addressed before undertaking such activities include 1) how the Society would serve all of its members in this role, 2) the specific issues to be addressed, and 3) the mechanisms for AMS involvement.

     There is a consensus that many of the professional opportunities in atmospheric and hydrologic sciences will be working closely with weather- and water-sensitive activities. These can be involved in agriculture, transportation, manufacturing, power generation, emergency management, etc. Students must be made aware of these work opportunities.

     The AMS must encourage universities to sensitize their students to the need for in-depth knowledge of the industries or agencies they will serve during their careers and to hone their communication skills to the point where they can be effective. At the same time, the users of our information need to know what our skills and limitations are.

     Toward these ends, the AMS should sponsor symposia bringing together user groups and students and professionals. These symposia could both serve as a means to communicate needs and capabilities and at the same time serve as a "job fair" for employers and potential employees to get together. Such an activity as part of the exhibition at the annual meeting would provide an additional tangible benefit to both exhibitors and potential employees or consultants.

     In addition, symposia with user groups, such as transportation and agriculture, will serve to better transmit to them how we can serve them and to the AMS community what products or knowledge they need. Meetings with large users groups often will reveal needs meteorologists may not have been aware of and which demand new products that can be developed.

     The most crucial role the weather or flood forecaster plays is during times of flood danger, hurricane landfall, tornado, ice storm, or other severe weather occurrences. The forecaster must be absolutely on top of his professional knowledge and also fully aware of the impact and consequences of his pronouncements and in complete communication with emergency management personnel, the media, or local officials. There is no room for imperfect communication. The AMS must work with responsible agencies to assure proper public response to the highest quality information.

     Toward this end the AMS should consider sponsoring, along with appropriate agencies such as NWS, media, FEMA, etc., timely local or regional symposia to enhance the exchange of knowledge. Local chapters can play an important role due to the likelihood that their members are familiar with the people involved.

     The AMS should sponsor symposia on responding to global and local climate variability. No matter what role anthropogenic impacts play in climate variability and long-term change, climate and weather are naturally highly variable on all scales. Through improved adaptability of the infrastructure (transportation, water transfer, energy distribution, avoiding construction in flood zones and vulnerable coastal areas, etc.) the society can help to minimize or avoid many of the losses of life, property, or productivity, as well as reducing inconvenience and improving the general condition.

     The AMS should become a participant in raising awareness of natural hazards and work with other relevant experts as appropriate in advocating changes in land use, community planning, and construction codes. In addition we should raise awareness of climatic fluctuations and uncertainties, natural or human related, and aid in the decision process as to how the infrastructure can be designed to minimize regional impacts of drought, floods, high tides, etc.

     Just-in-time manufacturing and transport procedures render the entire society vulnerable to local weather anomalies at the point of origin of products and anomalies anywhere along the transportation system. The global economy results in increased probability of these disruptions because product origins are now dispersed over the whole world. The probability of a disruption is increased.

     The meteorological, hydrological, and oceanographic communities can on the one hand respond to this by providing better forecasts as well as assessments of probabilities of disruptive events. On the other hand, we have a responsibility to remind the world of these vulnerabilities and interact with planners to assure appropriate responses.

CHAPTER 4 - Communications and Computer Technology

     The primary areas of AMS activities expected to be influenced the most by the advances in electronic communications technology are (a) meetings, (b) publications, (c) membership services (recognizing that this essentially encompasses the full breadth of AMS support and service activities to the membership), and (d) support for outreach (public policy).

     There appear to be two reasonable assumptions that should influence AMS activities designed to take advantage and integrate advances in electronic communications technology over the next 10 years:

  1. )     New communications technologies will not necessarily totally replace, but certainly enhance and modify, the current mode of operation.
  2. )     Many future benefits (i.e., cost effective with improved service implementation) cannot be accurately predicted and flexible "pilot" project type of implementation will be required.

     There are clear advantages to moving ahead on a fast track to incorporate new communication technologies (keeping within cost-effective bounds); however, some significant disadvantages require careful consideration before full implementation. The following outlines just a few of the advantages and disadvantages that encompass meetings, publications, and membership activities.


     •     Greater two-way access to the international, interdisciplinary, educational, student, and senior level communities of interested scientists

     •     Increased flexibility in providing support services

     •     More timely dissemination of information

     •     Delivery of visualizations and other multimedia presentations, data, and computer code in ways that remove the limitations of the printed page


     •     Loss of "face to face" and "off-line" scientific interactions (e.g., loss of ability to explain complex situations, problems, issues for both logistic service as well as scientific issues)

     •     Loss of focused interactions (i.e., off-site, out of office attention, or "retreat scenario" can be lost)

     •     Need for access to a workstation to view materials, thus impeding the traditional method of reading journals and carrying out reviews on planes and other "off-line" locations

1. Computational power

     It is the significant increase in computational power in recent years that has resulted in the major changes in the way scientific information is distributed. While the increased speed of supercomputers has dramatically affected both research and operational sectors of our science, it is the phenomenal increase in power of desktop computers and workstations that has allowed electronic communication to blossom. The scientist is now able to display at his or her desktop complex multimedia presentations of observations or model output, perhaps delivered in near-real time from thousands of miles away, that would have required mainframe support just a few years ago. Despite the advances to date, substantial additional improvement will be needed before workstations are sufficiently powerful, the display technology has sufficient resolution, and the communications lines have sufficient bandwidth to completely replicate the resolution, readability, and ease of use available with the printed pages. Additional increases in computational speed and communications technology will be needed before true interactivity can be achieved in "virtual conferences." Still, it is clear these advances are rapidly on the way and the Society should be laying the groundwork to be ready to exploit them as they become a reality.

2. Meetings

     Significant enhancement of AMS meeting support is expected from implementation activities in the following categories (some are expansion of activities already begun). Since the advantages and cost–benefit of some of these are unknown, pilot projects (e.g., one session at a selected meeting, keynote or invited speakers, etc.) are expected to precede full implementation of any of the new concepts.

     Base logistical enhancements:

     •     Online Web registration, abstract/agenda development, badging, etc.

     Meeting conference/session enhancements:

     •     Large 3D and 4D displays of new techniques

•     Electronic posters

•     Electronic workshops (intercomparisons/simulations on site)

•     One-way video sessions via the Internet to individuals and groups

•     Two-way video sessions via the Internet

•     Full interactive conferencing

3. Publications

     Clearly the AMS is doing well and even leading the scientific community in many areas of the electronic revolution/evolution in publishing. Therefore these following activities are expected to continue and expand:

     •     CD-ROM access with full search

     •     Online access with full search and referral

     •     Electronic publications (i.e., Earth Interactions) designed for optimum use of electronic capabilities.

     Printed content will remain an important cornerstone of journal publications. At the same time, because of the nature of our science together with continuing advances in technology, including material in electronic form offers a great potential to enhance the scientific content of journals as well as the communication of this content to the readership. It will become necessary for the AMS journals to develop the capacity for significant electronic content as an integral part of scientific articles.

     By its nature, material in electronic form cannot be represented in the traditional print medium; thus, moving in this direction requires a fundamental change in the concept of what constitutes the complete journal. The permanent archive becomes an electronic file and the material included in the printed volume may be only a partial representation of the complete work.

     Including electronic material that is considered an integral part of the journal article is a significant step since it requires that the permanent journal archive become the electronic file rather than the printed page. This step must be taken at some point if we are to accommodate significant amounts of electronic material in the future.

     There is no evidence that the volume of text material in the scientific literature will decrease. All indications are it will greatly increase (see Fig. 9). Consideration should be given to devices to reduce verbiage and increase the efficiency of scientific communication.

4. Membership support and servicing

     While it will be of special importance to keep an ability to directly contact AMS Headquarters staff personnel, full automation capabilities of services (dues, address changes, chapter support, submissions for employment, newsletters/BAMS, etc.,) will all move to an expanded Web access system.

     Planning meetings for headquarters support activities with individuals and groups are expected to become more electronic based.

     Educational and continuing education activities are expected to expand greatly in the use of focused educational materials with enhanced library, reference material, and interactive university supporting activities.

5. Support for outreach to the public

     It is a primary responsibility of the AMS to promote our science and its applications to the broadest reaches of the public and educational outreach through all forms of media will continue to be a well-accepted approach to meeting this responsibility. This places the revolution in communications technology at the forefront of AMS interests and gives the World Wide Web of the Internet a prominent (but certainly not exclusive) role in helping the AMS to meet our educational responsibilities. Please note that this educational responsibility interacts with and supports the public policy outreach activities in that one of the most important groups to educate is our elected representative body and its supporting staff structure.

     Since implementing a major broad-scale educational activity via the Web can be time consuming and expensive for the AMS, the full resources of the Society and its membership (individual, university, corporate, etc.) should be enlisted to assist the Headquarters staff. The following specific example illustrates the concepts that must be considered.

(a) Scope: AMS educational coverage for the Web

An online glossary will cover definitions, but major topic areas will need to be covered in more of popular encyclopedic manner (Popular Science and USA Today format leading to a Scientific American format). Since there is a wealth of material already online, a major activity may be in reviewing existing material, selecting appropriate links and filling gaps with original material, and most importantly maintaining a systematic update cycle of review to ensure currency and relevance. The final material would be essentially AMS "selected" for being an "appropriate" explanation of the topic. By covering a broad range of topics from explanations of various phenomenon, to instruments, to how predictions are made, to how our private–public partnership of meteorological support system works — we can provide both a pull and push Web system for educational outreach that can form the basis for a wide variety of Society activities from K–12 support to public policy issues.

     (b) Resources: Implementation methods

With a dedicated coordination position at AMS Headquarters, supported by an advisory committee of members, it is proposed that the major components of the AMS Outreach Web Site be supported by a combination of member, university, and corporate sponsorship. This means that individual topics would be assigned to or requested by a group or individual who would become responsible for formation, maintenance, and upkeep of this component under a general format design and under the coordination or supervision of the AMS. For example, one university department might take on "weather radar and its applications," another "meteorological satellites and their applications," a corporation might take on "meteorological instruments, and their applications," an individual might consider handling "rainbows, sun dogs and other optical phenomena" as a topic of interest beyond simple definitions, and a government organization might help with "hurricane forecasting — how our system works." Such a service would be useful to TV and Radio Sealholders.

     Another example on the use of the Web to inform society could be the incorporation of an interactive forum on a broad range of subjects in the meteorological, oceanographic, hydrologic, and related sciences. This forum would allow for timely interaction on recent events in the subject area as well as be a place where anyone can go to get a question answered or request feedback on issues of interest. Proctors for the various subject areas could be editors of AMS journals or their designated representatives, chairs of AMS committees, or committee members.

CHAPTER 5 — Finances and Development

     The AMS enters the twenty-first century in a sound financial position. Headquarters staff and the Investment Committee have done an excellent job in managing our resources. Currently the policy set by the Council is that, averaged over a few years, the meetings/exhibits program and sales of books will break even and the journals will produce a sufficient level of income to compensate for losses in the Bulletin and other services activities. After applying a part of the interest on reserves to compensate for inflation and preserve the value of the reserves, the remaining income is used for special initiatives such as K–12, development activities, student travel, local chapter staff support, support for the Glossary, electronic publications, etc. In 1996, about $350,000 was available for use from interest on reserves. In 1997 and 1998, the unusually large return on investments increased the amount available substantially.

     In 1996, the income and expenses in the four major program areas of the AMS were as follows:

  Income Expenses (in millions of dollars)
Bulletin/other Services 1.07 1.42
Meetings/exhibits 1.63 1.59
Journals 4.07 3.78
Books 0.20 0.20
Total 6.97 6.99

     The income and expenses in each area follows very closely the policy set by the Council. It is obvious that the only funds available for the expanded and new activities outlined in the four areas are from the use of income and interest on the reserves.

     The activities suggested in the four areas — multidisciplinary, inclusiveness, outreach, and communications and computer technology — are quite extensive. Priorities will have to be developed by the Council and implementation phased in over the coming decade. The Commission has made only rough estimates of the funds that would be required in each area. Some of the activities, such as the area of outreach, will require funds on a continuing basis. Others, such as the areas of communications and computer technology and inclusiveness, will require funds for pilot projects or to subsidize activities until they produce adequate revenue themselves. For example, the Society is subsidizing the online journals over the next three years until subscriptions for the online services match the cost.

     The Commission estimates that the cost of the initiatives discussed here represent about 10% of the $7 million operational budget of the Society. For most of the coming decade, applying technology to improve journals, meetings, and services such as the AMS Web site, as outlined in this report, will probably require annual expenditures of about $300,000 per year. The pilot projects in the multidisciplinary and inclusiveness areas will require $100,000–$200,000 per year, and outreach will require about $300,000 each year, unless commercial advertising or other subsidies can be found if the Council decides to publish a popular magazine.

     The Commission recognizes the difficulty and unpopularity of increasing the prices for services — dues, registration at meetings, subscription rates for journals and page charges — to members. It is clear that the increases in these areas would have to be quite aggressive if not dramatic to meet the first-guess estimate for the initiatives, even taking into account the redirection of some of the interest on reserves. For example, increasing dues by $10 per member per year only provides about a $100,000 increase in revenue; raising registration by $30 per participant only increases revenue by $100,000, and increasing the journal subscription rate by 33% results in about $100,000 additional revenue.

     The dues have been unchanged for 15 years, and the cost of the Bulletin has increased substantially. Other member services will continue to increase in cost and must be made up by increased charges elsewhere. We do not believe that this is the way the Society should continue to operate. The Commission recommends that the Council consider increasing the dues in steps to compensate for inflation over the last 15 years and then be tied to inflation thereafter.

     The AMS should immediately consider increasing staff support to work on development, which could help provide funds for the proposed initiatives. The charge should be fund-raising from members, corporations, and friends as well as seeking grants and contracts in support of new publications, scholarships, fellowships, lectureships, special projects, monographs, symposia on special interdisciplinary topics or on teaching meteorology, hydrology, and oceanography, etc.

     In summary, it is clear that priority setting and phasing in of both ongoing and new or expanded activity will necessarily be an important aspect of the response of Council to the initiatives suggested in this study, and that even with extensive use of interest income on reserves and an expanded development program, some additional funding will be required.

CHAPTER 6 — Recommendations

     A number of suggested activities were mentioned in the body of this report. The following particular recommendations for the consideration of Council and the membership are presented here. They are not prioritized. Although grouped by objective, many of these recommendations would further several of the principal objectives.


1)     The STAC and Professional Affairs Commission should be examined to assure their relevance and perhaps be aggregated in a way to assure cross-disciplinary activities and emphasis. The structure should reflect the diversity of the private sector.

2)     Publications should constantly be reviewed to assure that multidisciplinary activities have outlets for their work. The AMS Bulletin should be considered as an outlet for interdisciplinary work. In some cases, a multidisciplinary topic may have matured to the point where a new journal should be considered.

3)     AMS awards, scholarships, and fellowships should be examined to assure that criteria include interdisciplinary activities. Educational activities such as teaching, mentoring, and pedagogical innovations should be recognized through the award process.

4)     Membership criteria should be examined to ensure that professionals in other fields or allied fields working in atmospheric or hydrologic sciences or fields such as atmospheric chemistry are encouraged to become members.


1)     Local chapters should sponsor regional and topical meetings. Enhancement of the role of local chapters should be an important component of our outreach program.

2)     Close association with professional organizations in other nations should be fostered through joint meetings, symposia, and special events at the annual meeting.

3)     Continuing education and distance learning as well as special talks at meetings and conferences should be geared to the interest of the private sector.

4)     Symposia, meetings, workshops, and special sessions at the annual meeting should focus on multidisciplinary areas, interactions with journalists, and increasing our members awareness of the interdependence and mutual interests of the many facets of meteorology, hydrology, and ocean sciences.


1)     Popular publications for amateurs and weather enthusiasts and for professionals working with the development, application, display, and dissemination of atmospheric, hydrologic, or oceanic information should be explored for adding to AMS publications.

2)     A session should be considered at the annual meeting where exhibitors could interact with students to describe where they see the field growing and what job opportunities will be available.

3)     The AMS should seek effective means of influencing public policy with respect to the atmospheric and related sciences. Alliances with other interested organizations offer one possibility; participating in the establishment of an "association of weather information users" is another; development and encouragement of support from weather enthusiasts is a third. The sum total of our outreach efforts should provide strong grass-roots support for influencing public policy and provide guidance for new products and services for the wide range of users of weather and climate information.

4)     As part of the national effort to improve basic education and our outreach efforts, the K–12 program should be continued and enhanced as resources become available.

Communications and Computer Technology

1)     All AMS activities, publications, meetings, public interfaces, communications with members, educational efforts, membership support, etc. must be examined annually to assure that we are taking full advantage of advances in communications and computer processing. We should encourage experimentation and prototyping of electronic meetings.

2)     Appropriate guidelines and procedures should be established to encourage the submission of papers in printed form but which may contain electronic materials that are an integral part of the printed work.

3)     The AMS should continue to archive journal contents on CD-ROM with online access.

4)     The AMS should continue to remain at the forefront of electronic publication working with universities, UCAR, federal agencies, the WMO, and societies in other countries. At the same time, we should have as a primary goal, an increase in the efficiency and brevity of scientific publications.

5)     The AMS should coordinate the availability of course materials, symposia, etc., through the Internet both domestically and internationally.

6)     Electronic communications should be continuously explored as a means of encouraging broad participation in, and enrichment of, meetings and experimentation with electronic meetings should be encouraged.

7)     The AMS should, through its Web site, serve as a resource and/or depository and referral point for those seeking information on pedagogical aids, special topics, visual illustrative materials, etc. The AMS can use universities, government sources, and individuals as sources. Interactive electronic methods are encouraged. A dedicated coordination position should be established for this purpose.

Finances and Development

1)     AMS headquarters should establish a dedicated development office. Fund-raising, contract negotiations to achieve objectives related in this report, and making estimates of costs and revenues associated with old and new initiatives would be primary duties.

2)     Dues should be increased in several steps to compensate for the past 15 years of inflation and should be tied to inflation thereafter.

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