Preface

The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation sponsored a workshop on "The Known, the Unknown and the Unknowable in Weather Predictability."  This workshop was organized by Professors David Straus, J. Shukla and Ben Kirtman of George Mason University and the Center for Ocean-Land-Atmosphere Studies.

The participants, including many of the most respected experts in weather predictability, met and engaged in both detailed and broad discussion of our vision of weather prediction and predictability in the present and future. Even nature attempted to attend the workshop: a snowstorm of record-breaking proportions shut down the Washington DC area before and during the workshop, disrupting travel plans and forcing the use of remote speaker-phone / e-mailed Power Point presentations!

Jesse Ausubel, representing the Sloan Foundation, opened the workshop by noting that it is very helpful in many fields to review what is known and what is unknown. In the natural sciences in particular, some things are just too large to know (e.g. require too much data or too much computation), while others are truly unknowable. Understanding what we know and donít know, how to move that boundary, and what component of what is unknown is in fact knowable are all very helpful activities to both scientists and to society at large.

The Workshop Prospectus and Background are given in Section 1, while a summary of the discussion of the Workshop is given in Section 2. The list of participants and the Agenda are given in the Appendix.

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