link to full report
Report Cover
November 28, 2012

"Understanding the Water Cycle" – Final Report Issued from NOAA's Water Cycle Science Challenge Workshop

On 26 November 2012, Dr. F. Martin Ralph, NOAA HMT Program Director, presented the findings from a major interagency workshop conducted to inform NOAA's strategic planning for water cycle science. The presentation was to the NOAA Research Council, a formal group within NOAA that includes representatives from across the agency and that was the overseeing group for this workshop and three others on different science challenges (climate, ecosystems, and social science). The need for this workshop, which included 60 participants (1/3 from universities, 1/3 from across NOAA, and 1/3 from other agencies), emerged from earlier internal NOAA planning.

In August 2010, NOAA completed a report entitled Strengthening NOAA Science, sponsored by Dr. Jane Lubchenco, the Undersecretary for Oceans and Atmospheres. The report (Sandifer and Dole 2010) identified 7 NOAA Science Grand Challenges, including "Improve understanding of the water cycle at global to local scales to improve our ability to forecast weather, climate, water resources and ecosystem health." The topic was then selected by NOAA leadership for further development through engagement of external partners and stakeholders via the "Water Cycle Science Challenge Workshop."

A key purpose of the workshop was to discuss and develop recommendations to NOAA Leadership that can be integrated into the next NOAA 5-Year Research and Development Plan and into other NOAA science planning activities. The NOAA Research Council provided the following guidance for the workshop and is the formal recipient of this report. The workshop should "encompass the current state of understanding, identify gaps that can be addressed over the next five years, identify NOAA's role in filling those gaps in concert with external partners and other institutions over the next 5-years, and outline the expected benefits of filling the gaps."

An interagency program committee was formed. It selected the following overarching focus: "Understanding and predicting conditions associated with either too much or too little water."

HMT's expertise contributed significantly to the technical and programmatic input at the workshop and the need for HMT activities is highlighted in the goals and recommendations, and suggested implementation strategies as seen in the Executive Summary.

The full report is available online at:

The workshop website contains copies of the presentations made at the workshop, as well as the formal final report summary presentation made by Dr. Ralph to the NOAA Research Council on 26 November 2012.

Suggested citation for the report:

NOAA, 2012: "Understanding the Water Cycle" – Interagency Workshop Final Report, 60 pp. (

404 Not Found

404 Not Found