Tuesday, April 03, 2012

In which Judith Curry seeks help with the rent

In commenting on the US falling behind in numerical weather forecasting, Judith Curry lets the mask slip

My company CFAN purchases the ECMWF data set, at an annual cost of 168,000 Euros.  That cost is a very big fraction of our annual income, but it is so much better than NCEP’s forecasts that we don’t waste much effort using the NCEP products.  In fairness, their latest version of the Climate Forecast System (CFS) is significantly improved relative to the previous version, and the forthcoming new version of the GFS (15 day) is supposed to be a significant improvement.  But ECMWF and the other models are also making ongoing improvements that will continue to keep them well ahead of NCEP.
NCEP is the National Centers for Environmental Prediction and ECMWF is the European Center for Medium RangeWeather Forecasting, Judith is asking access to better NCEP models at no to low cost to her company.  In economics this is called rent seeking, forcing other people to give her, gratis, the fruits of their investment and labor.  So Eli has a question, assuming NCEP improves so that its models are better than ECMWF, why shouldn't Judy and Peter pay MORE for their models?

There are, of course reasons why NCEP is falling behind, Judith thinks that it because the management is hidebound, Eli has a suspicion that politics has much to do with it as well, with the flak catchers at NCEP being mau-maued by the likes of Rick Santorum not to venture into areas being "served" by private industry, you know, companies like CFAN.


Paul said...

Our own Cliff Mass (Univ. of Washington meteorologist) recently addressed this in his blog. The comments to his post are worth reading too.


Paul Middents

Anonymous said...

Will this scandalous act of rent seeking prod the Loop Lbertarian League into unleashing the Heartland Institute's loopy libertarians on the feckless Curry ?

Stay tuned.

CapitalClimate said...

And from what fossil-fueled sources might that income be currently or potentially derived? No conflict of interest there, the bunnies may be assured.

Anonymous said...

Surely not printing money at the taxpayer's expense. The Pennsylvania State Meteorologist , Doctor Franklin, says 'tis death to counterfeit!

Steve Bloom said...

Jeez, quite the climate science day in Nurture yesterday, with three important articles (inc. one on-line only). Worth a post IMHO.

J Bowers said...

Yep, for example, another nail in the coffin of AGW denial. Bang, bang, wallop.

Jeffrey Davis said...

I've always thought "rent seeking" referred to the activity of the monopolist owner of a property. Curry seems to be -- to use the technical term -- mooching.