18 September 2013. ESPI Report 46 “EUMETSAT-NOAA Collaboration in Meteorology from Space” is conceived as a review of the longstanding trans-Atlantic partnership between NOAA and EUMETSAT. Both meteorological satellite agencies have, over a period of three decades, been able to establish joint activities in three different fields. Currently, their collaboration in geostationary, polar orbiting and ocean altimetry satellite activities form the back-bone of global earth observation capabilities. The study investigates the history, structural changes and benefits produced by this partnership and its implications for both agencies, their funding governments and the user communities of meteorological and earth observation data.
The release of the ESPI study was accompanied by an evening event in the Hofburg Palace in the Viennese city centre. After the welcoming words by EUMETSAT Director General Alain Ratier and an introduction on the study and its context given by ESPI Director Peter Hulsroj, the content and conclusions of the study were unveiled during a half hour presentation by Resident Fellow Arne Lahcen. This was followed by an interesting discussion with the audience and closing remarks by Charles Wooldridge, Deputy Director of the NOAA NESDIS International and Interagency Affairs Division. At the end, the speakers and audience gathered in the Wintergarten for a reception with drinks and refreshments.
About the Study:
In its first part this study chronologically describes the evolution of the record of collaboration between both organisations in their fields of engagement. This collaboration record analysis reveals that the road towards these achievements has been complicated by various internal and external factors. Nevertheless the overall picture reveals that even organisations with different industrial policies, technologies and data policies can establish long term successful collaboration based upon principles of reciprocity, mutual understanding and sense of partnership.
The second part of the study takes a more analytical approach. The partnership assessment in the study analyses how the two meteorological operational agencies work together from a more structural point of view. To this effect a theoretical framework is applied which distinguishes different forms of collaboration based upon their structural characteristics in terms of focus, commitment and resource deployment. This reveals that each field of joint activity displayed in the EUMETSAT-NOAA partnership is distinct and, that the organisations have gradually increased their commitment over time as the joint undertakings turned out to be successful and beneficial for both partners. Over time this has resulted in a full spectrum partnership that is characterised by strong interdependency and mutual levels of trust. A cost-benefit impact assessment in the final chapter of the report analyses the impact of the collaboration on the organisations’ overall costs and performance. It reveals that EUMETSAT and NOAA have been able to get a double win out of their partnership. The agencies have been able to establish state-of-the-art observing system at a lower cost. The user communities benefit from more data, increased accuracy and a better timeliness and robustness of the observing systems. In addition, the benefits of this partnership in terms of cost and performance propagate through the socio-economic value chain. The rare combination of different added values resulting from this partnership raises questions as to how it can be maintained, further optimised and even leveraged to other activities and even other domains in the future.