These advancements, in turn, lead to advances in our understanding of the system itself. Dealing with the inherent uncertainty of environmental prediction is one of the major issues facing earth system sciences. As a result, society is looking for further significant benefits from the applications of data assimilation. It is therefore essential that the data assimilation community continues to meet to review and plan research and development. Given the importance of this topic across both operations and research, international partnerships across governmental organizations and academia are also required. Since the World Meteorological Organization (WMO
) accepted the challenge of overseeing the development of data assimilation practices, there have been tremendous developments in the relevant areas of science and technology. A series of five symposia, starting in Clermont-Ferrand, (France, 1990), followed by Tokyo (Japan, 1995), Quebec City (Canada, 1999), Prague (Czech Republic, 2005), and Melbourne (Australia, 2009), has been an important part of showcasing these developments and reporting on what fruitful directions research might take in order to meet increasing operational and societal demands. Following this path, the 6th Symposium was organized under the auspices of the WMO
World Weather Research Program (WWRP). Over 300 international participants came together in College Park, MD on 07-11 October 2013. Sponsorship by NASA
, and the University of Maryland made it possible to provide domestic and international travel support to eight early-career scientists.
The Symposium's main goals were to: i) Assess recent progress in atmospheric, oceanographic, and hydrologic data assimilation, in both research and operational environments; and ii) Reach a common understanding of the main challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in data assimilation. The Symposium consisted of nine main themes: Global and Regional Atmospheric Data Assimilation; Convective Scale Data Assimilation; Atmospheric Constituent Data Assimilation; Coupled Data Assimilation; Global and Regional Ocean Data Assimilation; Assimilation of Observations for the Land Surface; Assimilation of Satellite, In Situ, and Radar Observations; Methodology; and Diagnostic Tools. A total of 74 oral and 227 poster presentations were made from a wide range of perspectives representing the cross-disciplinary nature of data assimilation, which led to stimulating discussion and interaction. In the final oral session, the summary and conclusions of each theme were presented to highlight notable advances in recent years, and to identify pressing issues and challenges for the future.
The 6th WMO Symposium website (http://das6.umd.edu) contains all abstracts and most presentations (in both slides and video recording), and provides a valuable resource to the data assimilation community and beyond. A special collection of articles in the American Meteorological Society (AMS) journals highlighting the work presented at the Symposium is being assembled, and will include a brief, online-only summary article.
Despite its coincidental concurrence with the U.S. federal government shutdown, forcing a last minute relocation of the venue from NCWCP to the University of Maryland Riggs Alumni Center, the 6th WMO Symposium on Data Assimilation was a huge success thanks to everyone's contributions, and particularly to those of the local volunteers, whose devoted efforts were essential. The Local Organizing Committee is also grateful for the partnership of the University of Maryland, which made the overhaul possible.
A large turnout for a session of the 6th WMO Symposium on Data Assimilation, held at the University of Maryland Riggs Alumni Center in College Park, MD. (Photo by Michiko Masutani)
Attendees review posters during a break at the 6th WMO Symposium on Data Assimilation. (Photo by Michiko Masutani)