For purposes of this Federal Plan


Interagency Research Programs



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Interagency Research Programs

The United States Weather Research Program (USWRP)


The USWRP is an interagency weather research and transition of research to application program. The member agencies include: NOAA (lead), the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the National Science Foundation (NSF), the Navy, and the Air Force. The NOAA component of USWRP has been quite active although the funding levels have been flat. NOAA’s Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR), through OAR’s Office of Weather and Air Quality, helps plan NOAA USWRP priorities, implements the program, and monitors progress.

The Developmental Test Center (DTC). The DTC (http://www.dtcenter.org/index.php) is a joint operation between NOAA/Earth System Research Laboratory/Global Systems Division and the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, CO, funded by NOAA. It serves as the test bed for the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) community model (http://wrf-model.org/index.php), which is a cooperative venture between NOAA, NSF, the Air Force, and the Navy. In FY 2011, the DTC will continue to develop the Hurricane Weather Research and Forecasting (HWRF) community model.

Collaborative Program on the Societal Impacts and Economic Benefits of Weather Information (Societal Impacts Program or SIP). The USWRP provides most of the support for SIP (http://www.sip.ucar.edu/) and will continue to do so in FY 2011. Its mission is to be a clearing house for socioeconomic information on weather, to increase knowledge among the weather community concerning the human and economic impacts of weather, to better determine the value of weather information, and to improve our ability to communicate weather information to all public and private sectors. In FY 2011, the SIP will continue work to determine the public understanding of forecast uncertainty and to research the communication of hurricane forecast information from the National Hurricane Center, through the various communications outlets, to the public and to emergency managers. They will also be looking at what information the public uses for hurricane evacuation decisions. The SIP also provides the bulk of the U.S. support for the societal and economic research and applications component of THORPEX (see below).

The Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT). The NOAA USWRP provides total support for the JHT (http://www.nhc.noaa.gov/jht/index.shtml) which transitions mature research products from the hurricane research community into operations through improvements in hurricane landfall decision support systems. This project is located at the NWS’s National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Tropical Prediction Center in Miami, FL. The USWRP will continue to fully support the JHT in FY 2011. Recently, the JHT has been emphasizing improving forecasts of hurricane intensity at landfall. In FY 2011, the JHT will be beyond the middle of its fifth cycle of two-year awards. This cycle has 11 awards.

The Hydrometeorological Testbed (HMT). NOAA USWRP has invested in research and transition of research to applications to improve quantitative precipitation forecasts through NOAA’s HMT (http://hmt.noaa.gov/), led by OAR’s Environmental Systems Research Laboratory’s (ESRL) Physical Sciences Division (PSD). The HMT seeks to improve regional precipitation forecasts, particularly for heavy, flooding rains. This support will continue as the HMT moves to set up a field program in the southeast U.S. as it moves from the west coast. This project also collaborates with OAR’s National Severe Storms Laboratory (NSSL).

THORPEX: A Global Atmospheric Research Program


THORPEX is a 10-year international research program under the World Meteorological Organization that focuses on accelerating improvements in one to 14-day global numerical prediction of high impact weather. THORPEX began in 2004. THORPEX is the weather component of the Global Earth Observing Systems of Systems (GEOSS). The U.S. representative to the THORPEX international management committee resides in NOAA and NOAA is the lead U.S. agency for THORPEX, providing the U.S. funding contribution to the THORPEX international management. Key U.S. agencies that are participating in THORPEX, in addition to NOAA, are NSF, NASA, and the Navy. The main thrusts of U.S. THORPEX are:

Understanding global scale atmospheric processes and phenomena.

Improving the science of prediction.

Providing socioeconomic research and applications.


NSF, the Navy, and NASA provide the bulk of support for the first bullet. All agencies support the second bullet, and NOAA USWRP and NCAR support activities within the third bullet. NCEP has developed a North American Ensemble Forecasting system (NAEFS, http://www.emc.ncep.noaa.gov/gmb/ens/NAEFS.html) which is operational as an experimental product and includes the U.S., Canada, and Mexico (as a user). NAEFS is an important component of the THORPEX Interactive Forecast System (GIFS), and a fully implemented GIFS will be available by the end of the THORPEX program period in about 2014. NCEP is one of the ten operational centers contributing to the THORPEX Integrated Grand Global Ensemble (TIGGE) that provides global ensembles to the weather community. The NOAA USWRP-funded SIP provides U.S. support for the socioeconomic component of THORPEX. THORPEX is a key component of ensemble, probabilistic atmospheric modeling in NOAA. It is the program in which key advances are made in ensemble techniques and atmospheric data assimilation with a significant portion of the applied research being done at OAR’s Earth Systems Research Laboratory (ESRL). It also provides the connection on the weather side to climate prediction at the intraseasonal scales that will eventually lead to a seamless weather-climate prediction system.

In FY 2011, progress will be made on the GIFS by continuing international agreements on data access, types of model data to be made available, and how the data will be disseminated. NAEFS may add some members to the ensemble with the US Navy having joined NAEFS in FY 2009. The current internal NOAA awards for THORPEX research will be reviewed and priorities for such research will be adjusted as THORPEX begins to focus partially on shorter term mesoscale and local ensembles.


Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation


Effective environmental prediction requires several elements. One of these is accurate, well-distributed observations of the Earth’s environment and numerical models that embody the physical and chemical laws governing the behavior of the Earth’s land surface, oceans, and atmosphere. Data assimilation is the mortar that binds these elements into successful prediction systems for weather, oceans, climatology, and ecosystems. JCSDA is a partnership between NOAA, NASA, the U.S. Navy, and the U.S. Air Force dedicated to developing and improving our ability to exploit satellite data more effectively in the U.S. JCSDA is a collaborative effort that allows the work required to assimilate the billions of satellite observations available daily to be shared by several agencies. This effort would otherwise be duplicated across the agencies.

The goals of JCSDA are to:

Reduce the average time for operational implementation of new satellite technology from two years to one year.

Increase the use of current satellite data in numerical weather prediction models.



Advance the common numerical models and data assimilation infrastructure.

Assess the impacts of data from advanced satellite sensors on weather and climate predictions.
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