From the aviation, energy, and defense industries, to the government’s operational forecasting entities, RAL builds and maintains strong relationships with decision-makers nationally and internationally. RAL scientists work broadly across disciplines, collaborating with colleagues in the research and operational science communities. Work is conducted in an open and transparent manner with progress and results proactively communicated to the sponsor, the scientific community and the public.
Experience has shown that as a new project is designed in partnership with a sponsor, sometimes neither party has a perfectly clear understanding of the exact nature of the scientific or technological package to be delivered, or, in fact, the problem to be solved. To design a project as effectively as possible, RAL engages the sponsor in a continued dialogue concerning the “art of the possible.” This normally results in a much more detailed understanding of the sponsor’s real needs as compared to perceived needs, and an in-depth understanding of the sponsor’s decision process. Both parties can then shift their thinking to a set of common ideas regarding requirements and deliverables. This iterative process, which has worked well over the past 30 years, will continue to be applied in future projects.
RAL employs an “end-to-end R&D” process that begins with basic research, the foundation of any successful technology transfer effort. Tapping into the scientific expertise at NCAR and UCAR’s university partners, RAL conducts directed research and development focused on tailored solutions to specific weather and climate problems. The end point is the delivery of a new technology that improves safety, efficiency and mobility in the operational (“real”) world.
RAL participates in all phases of this cycle, with careful assessment of the science and its readiness for application, thoughtful discussions with the user community about real needs and the readiness to accept and exploit new capabilities, and focused attention on the necessary human and computational resources (on both the developer and recipient sides) required to test, validate and deliver the technology. In the last step, it is critical that operational stakeholders receive suitable training to use the new technology.
The scientific validation of meteorological forecast products is an essential step in determining their utility and represents an important part of our work. Developing improved techniques for forecast validation is a scientific research topic in its own right, and one in which RAL strives to maintain a strong program. In recent years, major new evaluation tools have been developed by RAL and its collaborators, and have been made available to the community.
From the viewpoint of the end user, the operational evaluation of forecast products is as important as the scientific evaluation. How useful is the capability to the customer? What are the actual efficiency and safety gains attained? What is the anecdotal feedback from the “front lines” regarding whether the product is helpful to their decision process? Such subjective evaluations are often as informative as formal benefit/cost studies, are more readily obtained, and are commonly the primary basis for establishing customer satisfaction. The operational evaluation is critical in that it literally takes the science and technology out of the laboratory and puts it into a societal, operational setting.
I have a very strong feeling that science exists to serve human betterment and improve human welfare. - Walter Orr Roberts