Terms of Reference

Terms of Reference (TOR)

Forecast Improvement Group (FIG)

Background: Starting in 2012, a broad community of AMS members have come together for the purpose of identifying pathways for significantly and continually improving numerical weather prediction (NWP); this group is known as the Forecast Improvement Group (FIG). FIG membership is open and currently involves more than 190 members. FIG focuses primarily on 0 to 15 day forecast horizons, and does not extend to the seasonal (>90 day) time frame. The FIG, unlike many focused efforts including National Academy Panels and governmental advisory boards, strives to address the weather community as a whole to determine potential paths and opportunities, which will result in significant improvements in NWP.  FIG acknowledges that the combined and coordinated efforts of the public, private, and academic sectors support  critical  needs  of  the  country.  In  addition,  FIG  operates  on  the  following premises:

•    Weather forecasting capabilities in the US could be considerably better than they currently are; the intellectual capacity, innovative ideas and collaborative intentions are not constraints on current forecasting abilities;

•    The  weather  forecasts  provided  by  the  joint  efforts  of  the  public,  private  and academic sectors are critical to public safety, resource, and infrastructure management and the economic success of the country;

•    Weather forecasting is becoming both more important and more complex as the infrastructure of the world, including public health, safety, energy, food, and water needs becomes more complex and interdependent;

•    The individual roles of the public, private and academic sectors are appropriately constrained by legal principles developed over time; and the details of these roles for the public, private, and academic sectors are continually adapting to meet the ever- changing needs of the nation.

Because the FIG addresses critical needs, the FIG is being established as a standing committee under the Commission of the Weather and Climate Enterprise’s (CWCE) Board on Enterprise Communication (BEC) with these Terms of Reference (TOR). The FIG also serves as the prototype for a proposed new AMS mechanism for gathering, documenting, and communicating community perspectives on topics of interest to the enterprise.  This mechanism is intended to fill a gap within existing community advisory mechanisms: a standing neutral forum for open-participation community input, crossing all enterprise sectors, focused on a specific topic.  Formal FIG reports will follow the open community review and Council approval process.

Purpose: The purpose of the FIG is to gather and document community input and consensus, and lack thereof, on potential paths and opportunities, which will result in significant and continual improvements in weather forecasting.  FIG discussions span activities across the public, private and academic sectors.

The  FIG  Executive  Committee  (EC)  is  charged  with  identifying,  organizing  and facilitating activities of the larger FIG. FIG operates on the assumption that open, thoughtful communication can assist in identifying mutually-beneficial relationships among the public, private and academic sectors and assist in developing partnerships and collaborations as appropriate.  Communication of FIG documents, guidance, and vision to the entire AMS community, the broad weather community, and decision- makers is important to help achieve the FIG’s goals of significant and continuing improvements in weather forecasting. The FIG respects the importance and complexity of communicating forecasts and warnings, and therefore will stay coordinated with the social science community, but will not focus or make recommendations with respect to improvements in communicating forecasts.

Goals: The FIG will focus on these specific areas:

•    Improved  communication  and  understanding within  the  community  on  issues  of critical importance to improving forecasting capabilities.

•    Examination of the current and possible roles for the public, private, and academic sectors as a community in weather forecasting with the objective of more effectively

accelerating the implementation of forecast improvements across the enterprise. Discussions will embrace unusual ideas and changes both large and small to the community.

•    Build on the current FIG findings, and identify specific actions to support those findings.

Activities: To achieve its goals, the FIG will conduct the following activities:

•    Foster regular communication across the public, private, and, academic sectors on topics related to NWP.

•    The FIG works to identify large, structural approaches to changes in forecasting, as opposed to specific decisions on forecasting, which are better handled by focused groups  within  other  parts  of  the  AMS  or  agency  advisory  committees.  As  an example, specific instrumentation requirements will not be addressed within the FIG; however,  general  principles  and  roles  for  evaluation  of  instrumentation may  be addressed within the FIG.

•    Contribute to efforts to educate the community and public policy decision-makers on the importance of the public, private, and  academic  sectors within the weather enterprise.  The Policy Program and Communications Office of AMS will be involved for valued coordination.

•    Organize appropriate venues that will serve to bring together the meteorological community to learn about, discuss, and provide input and feedback concerning

forecast improvement issues of interest to the community. Venues may take a wide variety  of  formats,  including  workshops,  web  casts,  special  symposia,  and conference sessions, depending on the nature and time-sensitivity of the topic to be discussed.

•    Gather,  aggregate,  distill,  and  document  community  perspectives  and  vision, including where consensus exists and does not exist on topics and activities that may  lead  to  improved  forecast  skill  and  information  uptake.  Document  these perspectives annually in interim FIG reports, which will be submitted to the BEC Chair, and develop major summary reports every three years. These major reports will be posted on the AMS website for comments for a period not less than one month.  Upon  incorporation  of  comments,  the  final  report  will  be  reviewed  and approved by the CWCE Commissioner and by the AMS Council.

Approach: The following approach is adopted in promoting communication across the entire weather forecasting enterprise. The FIG chair is responsible for coordinating FIG activities with existing activities within the CWCE in coordination with, and with support from, the BEC chair and CWCE Commissioner.

•    Open,  frank,  and  constructive  communication  among  members  will  allow  for effective response to the changing needs of the community;

•    Appropriate  collaboration on  issues  will  allow  for  the  development  of  numerical weather prediction of unparalleled excellence for the nation and the world;

•    Differing opinions on issues are welcome and accepted. Identification of common ground, honesty, and respect will allow for effective co-existence;

•    The FIG will continually strive to work with the broad AMS community to build from efforts already in place;

•    The FIG will strive to look at the weather community as a whole, to assess pathways that will result in continually improving forecasts;

•    The FIG will re-examine the findings every three years, and will take no more than one year to adjust or replace the current findings.

Structure and Organization: The FIG is open to all professionals interested in improving weather forecasting. Continuous opportunities to join FIG are provided via the FIG website and periodically through BAMS, list servers, etc. Members should be willing to engage in constructive communication on making meaningful improvements in weather forecasting. The FIG is led by the chair, the past chair and incoming chair of the FIG. The FIG Executive Committee (EC)  exists to help prioritize and plan activities for the entire FIG. An Advisory Committee exists to offer insights and advice from membership at a very high level in the weather enterprise. The Chair will be nominated by the out-going FIG Chair and approved by the Chair of the BEC with final approval from  the  CWCE Commissioner.  The  FIG Chair  will  serve  for  three  years  and  will continue  to  serve  for  an  additional  three  years  as  the  Past  Chair  of  the  FIG. Membership shall represent the public, private, and academic sectors. Special effort will be made to encourage participation of under-represented groups, including early career professionals, women, minorities, and students. The FIG Chair shall be an ex officio member of the BEC.

 

FIG EC: The FIG EC plans and facilitates the activities and discussions of the larger, diverse FIG. It will be a permanent standing committee reporting to the FIG Chair. The FIG EC plans and facilitates the activities and discussions of the larger, diverse FIG. The FIG EC is composed of members of the weather enterprise. The primary form of communication for the EC will be monthly telecoms; face-to-face meetings will be scheduled  during  the  AMS  Annual  Meeting  and  during  other  CWCE-organized meetings. The Chair of the FIG EC will report on FIG activities to the BEC through quarterly reports and conference calls. To achieve the FIG’s purpose and goals, the FIG Committee will develop, coordinate, and participate in the activities listed above. The Chair of the FIG, in consultation with the BEC Chair and the CWCE Commissioner, may replace/remove members of the FIG EC who are inactive for more than six months, or fail to participate in a constructive manner as described by the FIG Approach listed above.

FIG EC Structure:

•    The FIG EC will consist of 15-30 members led by the FIG Chair.

•    FIG  EC  members  will  serve  for  three  years  with  1/3  generally  rotating  off  the Committee each year. Members will be nominated by the FIG Chair and approved by the Chair of the BEC with final approval from the CWCE Commissioner.

•    At the discretion of the FIG Chair, in consultation with the Chair of the BEC and CWCE Commissioner, membership on the FIG EC may be extended beyond three years.

•    Membership shall represent the public, private, and academic sectors.

•    Special effort will be made to encourage participation of under-represented groups, including, early career professionals, women, minorities, and students.

•    Subcommittees may be established to address specific topics of interest.

 

FIG Advisory Committee: The FIG Advisory Committee (AC) will provide perspective and feedback to the FIG Chair on FIG activities and findings to ensure that FIG is meeting the goals set forth herein; it is composed of public, private and academic leaders from the weather enterprise. The primary form of communication for the FIG Advisory Committee will be telecoms; face-to-face meetings may be scheduled during the AMS Annual Meeting and possibly during other major AMS-organized meetings.

FIG Advisory Committee Structure:

•    FIG AC will consist of approximately 15 members

•    Membership shall represent the public, private, and academic sectors.

•    FIG AC members are nominated by the FIG chair based on advice from the FIG EC, and  approved  by  the  Chair  of  the  BEC  with  final  approval  from  the  CWCE Commissioner. 

•    Appointments are for three years, with 1/3 of the membership changing each year.

•    At the discretion of the FIG Chair, with approval from the Chair of the BEC and final approval  from  the  CWCE  Commissioner,  membership  on  the  FIG  AC  may  be extended beyond three years.