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Establishment of a FGDC Spatial Climate Working Group

Greg Johnson
Applied Climatologist, USDA-NRCS
National Water and Climate Center
Portland Oregon

April 5, 1999

There is a significant need for Federal coordination in the development, production and distribution of spatial climate data. There are numerous needs for spatial climate information within many Federal agencies, as well as outside the Federal government. During the past two years there has been an increase in the number of spatial climate datasets available via the Internet, and elsewhere. However, many of these datasets have not been coordinated for content for metadata standards using established FGDC protocols. In order to provide clear and certified spatial climate information to a wide variety of Federal, state, local and private sector users, establishment of an FGDC Subcommittee on Spatial Climate Data is submitted for your review., sponsored by the FGDC. The purpose of this subcommittee would be to coordinate spatial climate data and information activities among all levels of government, as well as in the private sector.

Responsibilities for the development and distribution of spatial climate datasets presently rest among several Federal agencies within different Federal departments. The agencies involved principally are the U.S. Department of Agriculture's Natural Resources Conservation Service (USDA-NRCS), whose National Water and Climate Center (NWCC) is coordinating a national climate mapping effort, in coordination with Oregon State University (OSU); and the U.S. Department of Commerce's National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (USDC-NOAA), whose National Climatic Data Center (NCDC) is developing a new, electronic national climate atlas, also in cooperation with OSU. There has been significant communication between NWCC, NCDC and OSU on this project, including extensive peer-review and adherence to FGDC standards since inception more than five years ago. Project information can viewed at this web site: There may be other Federal and non-Federal efforts in spatial climate mapping, and this subcommittee could serve as a coordination point for all of these various efforts.

Spatial climate data under the purview of this subcommittee are envisioned to include information about atmospheric elements , surface temperature, dewpoint/humidity, precipitation, snow, wind, radiation, and a host of derived variables; and soil temperature and moisture, and others specified.

The subcommittee would function much like other FGDC subcommittees. Specific purposes could include these three identified by the Spatial Water Data Subcommittee, as well as others: 1) facilitating the exchange of information and the transfer of data; 2) the establishment and implementation of standards for quality, content and transferability; and 3) the coordination of the identification of requirements and the collection of spatial data to minimize duplication of effort where practicable and economical.

Subcommittee membership would be eagerly sought from a variety of Federal agencies with interests in spatial climate data, as well as from other individuals and groups outside the direct Federal government structure who have an interest in spatial climate data and the goals of the subcommittee. The subcommittee will coordinate its activities with other FGDC subcommittees and working groups, and with the FGDC Coordination Group.

For further information, please contact Dr. Greg Johnson at (503)414-3017, fax (503)414-3101, or email at:

Last Updated: Jan 10, 2006 02:40 PM
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