A Primer


Research to operations (R2O) is a carefully orchestrated prioritization and transition of promising scientific results or research byproducts that are developed in coordination with operational users for the intent of strengthening an organization or community pursuant to its mission. The degree of R2O effort depends on scale, scope, and importance, but an organization or community should continually leverage a R2O cycle to focus its activities.

Points of Emphasis

The Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate of the National Research Council summarized and furthered early concepts of R2O within the weather community in their 2000 report. This report focused on weather satellites and numerical weather prediction, and specifically discussed “crossing the valley of death” in transitioning R2O. In this context, the report listed five points of emphasis (abbreviated here) that underscore mutually beneficial R2O practices:

  • A research program that understands operational requirements;
  • Adequate resources, including continuous development of new observing, technological, and modeling capabilities, and sufficient plans;
  • A sustained interface with users, promoting two-way feedback;
  • Partnerships for international observations and data access; and
  • Continuous assessments of weather prediction systems and components in light of the importance and risks of new and ongoing transitions.

“Skeletons in Death Valley”

Investments in applied research and development that largely fail to achieve operational implementation, or provide appreciable benefits to operational users, are considered transitions that are “skeletons in Death Valley”, according to the National Research Council’s 2000 report.

Further Reading

From Research to Operations in Weather Satellites and Numerical Weather Prediction: Crossing the Valley of Death, Board on Atmospheric Sciences and Climate, National Research Council, 2000, http://www.nap.edu/catalog/9948.html.

A bibliography on the subject of R2O is also available for reference.