1.2 Background and organization

The NOAA Climate Diagnostics Center was formed in 1993 through a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) between the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) and the Office of Global Programs (OGP), with personnel derived from what had formerly been the Climate Research Division of the Climate Monitoring and Diagnostics Laboratory. The purpose of the OAR-OGP agreement was to establish a unique, focused center of expertise within NOAA to develop and apply diagnostic methods that would (i) aid in understanding the dominant processes influencing climate variability, and (ii) link observational analyses to model testing and evaluation. Under the terms of the MOA, CDC is managed as one of the Research Laboratories in OAR.

CDC is staffed by NOAA personnel and affiliated scientists from the University of Colorado Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), with approximately forty CIRES staff and fourteen federal staff directly affiliated with the CDC. In order to more explicitly recognize this large and focused set of joint activities, a University Center within CIRES, also named the Climate Diagnostics Center, was formed in 1997. This organization integrates and coordinates climate research in NOAA/OAR and CIRES with other existing University research and instructional programs, thereby enhancing prospects for mutually beneficial collaborations among NOAA and University scientists over a broad range of disciplines.

Specific goals of ongoing CDC research include: (i) identifying key processes contributing to extreme short-term climate events, including major droughts and floods; (ii) advancing understanding and predictions of El Niño-Southern Oscillation, other major modes of climate variability and their global and regional impacts; (iii) developing new diagnostic techniques to improve determinations of fundamental atmospheric quantities, such as atmospheric heating; (iv) improving monitoring and descriptions of climate variability; (v) diagnosing general circulation and operational prediction models to identify areas where model improvements are needed; (vi) identifying sources for climate variability on decadal and longer time scales and assessing to what extent they may be predictable; (vii) investigating the role of ocean-atmosphere interactions in modulating longer-term variability; (viii) developing new approaches, including stochastic methods, for climate diagnostics and predictions; and (ix) improving interactions and communications with potential external users in areas such as water, energy, and environmental resources management, in order to increase the value to society of climate analyses and predictions.

CDC also conducts joint climate research with scientists at other universities, NOAA research laboratories and other national laboratories, and with the National Centers for Environmental Prediction on projects aimed at improving medium-range weather forecasts, seasonal-to-interannual climate predictions, and developing new climate products. Strong and growing interactions exist with the Geophysical Fluid Dynamics Laboratory in climate model diagnostics, and with NCEP Climate Prediction Center and Environmental Modeling Center on real-time diagnostics, seasonal climate predictions and the development of experimental medium-range and seasonal climate forecasts. CDC also is one of five Applied Research Centers (ARCs) within the Climate Dynamics and Experimental Prediction Program of the Office of Global Programs. The ARCs serve as a system of linked centers focusing on applied climate research, with a major unifying goal being to improve predictions of climate on time scales ranging from a season to a decade. CDC is one of the central contributors to ARC research, and CDC scientists have developed collaborations across the ARC network. Important objectives of ARC research include supporting the development of improved forecast capabilities and experimental climate products for applications by NCEP, the International Research Institute for Climate Prediction (IRI), and regional assessments projects funded by the NOAA Office of Global Programs. In addition, CDC collaborates extensively with CIRES and other University of Colorado partners in an OGP-supported regional assessment of Water, Climate and Society in the Interior Western United States.

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