The World Climate Research Program in its Global Energy and Water Cycle Experiment (GEWEX) has established Continental Scale Experiments to improve scientific understanding and to model on a continental scale the coupling between the atmosphere and the land surface hydrologic processes for climate prediction purposes. The GEWEX Continental-scale International Project (GCIP) was established in the Mississippi River basin, as shown in Figure 1-1, in 1992 to take advantage of the extensive meteorological and hydrological networks including the new Doppler radars, wind profilers, and automatic weather stations (WMO,1992).

1.1 Objectives

The overall goal of GCIP is to demonstrate skill in predicting changes in water resources on time scales up to seasonal and annual, as an integral part of the climate system. Within this overall goal, GCIP has set out the following science objectives:

1) Determine and explain the annual, interannual and spatial variability of the water and energy cycles within the Mississippi River basin.

2) Develop and evaluate coupled hydrologic/atmospheric models at resolutions appropriate to large-scale continental basins.

3) Develop and evaluate atmospheric, land, and coupled data assimilation schemes that incorporate both remote and in-situ observations.

4) Improve the utility of hydrologic predictions for water resources management up to seasonal and interannual time scales.

5) Provide access to comprehensive in-situ, remote sensing and model output data sets for use in GCIP research and as a benchmark for future studies.

1.2 Major Activities Plan

The purpose of the Major Activities Plan is to project a description of GCIP research and associated activities over the next two to three years to preclude the need for frequent revisions to the three volumes of the GCIP Implementation Plan. The initial version of the Major Activities Plan covered the two-year period of 1995 and 1996 with an outlook for 1997 (IGPO, 1994c) and was updated in each of the last two years (IGPO, 1995; IGPO, 1996).

The description of planned activities is based on what should be done in an orderly progression toward the end objectives of GCIP and with a realistic assumption about the resources that will be available to do it. Adjustments are made the following year, as appropriate, to rationalize the plans with the actual resources. The adjustments are used as a starting point for projections in the following year's update.

The most recent update of the Major Activities Plan covers the water years of 1998, 1999 and outlook for 2000 (IGPO,1997). During the past year the plans for the research activities in the LSA-NW have evolved and culminated in the detailed design workshop hosted by the USGS/EROS Data Center in Sioux Falls, SD in October 1998. The purpose of the current document entitled the "GCIP Major Activities Plan for the Large Scale Area -North West" is to provided a consolidated description of the plans for this region during the Enhanced Observing Period from 1 April 1999 through 31 March 2001.

Figure 1-1  The Mississippi River basin, the focus of GCIP activities.