Session 9A.1 The Research Support Desk (RSD) initiative at Environment Canada: linking severe weather researchers and forecasters in a real-time operational setting

Tuesday, 28 October 2008: 4:30 PM
North & Center Ballroom (Hilton DeSoto)
David Sills, EC, Toronto, ON, Canada; and N. M. Taylor

Presentation PDF (2.8 MB)

National laboratories have been implemented at Environment Canada regional Storm Prediction Centres (SPCs) across Canada with the goal of enhancing technology and knowledge transfer between the operational and research communities. The Research Support Desk (RSD) initiative takes this one step further by facilitating the interaction of forecasters and researchers in a real-time, operational setting during severe weather events. Forecasters are exposed to new techniques, tools and data, while researchers get the chance to apply their severe weather-related work in real time and gain first-hand knowledge of the science gaps facing operational meteorologists. Real-time, interactive sharing of expertise is also an important component of this initiative.

An RSD was first implemented in the operations area of the Ontario SPC (OSPC) for the summer of 2004 and has run each summer thereafter. The scientific focus is on mesoscale analysis and nowcasting of summer severe weather using an object-oriented, prototype nowcasting platform called Aurora. Daily graphical mesoscale prognoses and hourly mesoscale analyses with 1-hr convective trend nowcasts are produced to assist with operational severe weather forecasting and nowcasting. Identifying lake breeze fronts and predicting their movement is an important activity since these low-level boundaries often serve as a lifting mechanism in the Great Lakes region.

Post-season surveys show that forecasters:

• have become increasingly comfortable with a research presence in the operational area,

• perceive significant benefits to the operational severe weather program,

• feel that the RSD creates an enhanced learning environment, and

• have a strong interest in seeing the initiative continued into the future.

Following on the success of the RSD at the OSPC, a second RSD has been run each summer at the Edmonton office of the Prairie and Arctic SPC (PASPC) since 2006 via the Hydrometeorology and Arctic Lab (HAL). The focus at this RSD is on forecasting and nowcasting the initiation of severe convective storms with an emphasis on mesoscale processes important on the Prairies, including advection of boundary-layer moisture and the development of low-level boundaries such as the dryline. A suite of experimental model fields related to convective initiation (CI) is being developed and evaluated. As well, a CI discussion is produced daily as is a graphical CI prognosis product generated using Aurora. Post-season surveys show that the Edmonton RSD is also well received by forecasters.

Lastly, the RSDs have supported lab-related field research programs such as BAQS-Met 2007 in Ontario and UNSTABLE 2008 in Alberta.

Future goals include implementing RSDs at each of the SPCs across Canada.

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