1A.1 The First Holistic Technical Review of the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) Production Suite: Why Now and How?

Monday, 29 June 2015: 8:30 AM
Salon A-2 (Hilton Chicago)
William Lapenta, NOAA/NWS/NCEP, College Park, MD

Numerical earth system prediction capabilities are critical to address evolving societal needs for natural disaster preparedness, ensuring food security for growing planetary population, national security and defense as well as future economic prosperity. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) operational modeling suite at the National Weather Service (NWS) National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP) provides timely information on the future state of weather, land surface, ocean, sea ice, short-term climate, and ecosystems. The modeling suite provides input for the decision-making process for individuals and policy makers, and for sectors ranging from water resources to financial markets. The modeling systems directly support the NWS mission to provide weather, water, and climate data, forecasts and warnings for the protection of life and property and enhancement of the national economy.

The operational modeling capabilities at NCEP have been the focus of many articles and blogs over the years. The U.S. weather community is very passionate about the performance of the systems and has publically expressed opinions regarding their evolution. There are numerous strategic and technical factors that must be taken into account when planning the evolution of the modeling suite. The NWS imperative of a Weather-Ready Nation (WRN) is about building community resiliency in the face of increasing vulnerability to extreme weather. Therefore, the foundational operational numerical guidance system must support the WRN initiative. Global modeling systems are now being run operationally at resolutions approaching 10km. Regional systems are running operationally at 3km and lower and are applied to convective predictability and severe weather. Advanced data assimilation techniques are being applied on global and regional scales. Demands are building for skillful outlooks in the week 3 and 4 time frame that will require coupled atmosphere and ocean global systems executed in ensemble mode.

During the past several years the NOAA modeling enterprise has received national attention. The Disaster Relief Appropriations Act of 2012 provided $50M+ to advance the skill of NOAA operational numerical guidance systems for medium range weather prediction. Specific targeted areas include operational and research high performance computing, scientific development of data assimilation capabilities, model physics, dynamics and ensemble techniques. In FY14, the NWS introduced a new $14.3M initiative called “R2O” to improve the transition of research into NWS operations with an emphasis on operational global modeling and data assimilation. There are other programs within NOAA that have modeling components including the Warn on Forecast (WoF), National Multi-Model Ensemble (NMME), the National Earth System Prediction Capability (ESPC) and the NOAA Climate and Earth System Modeling Strategy.

NOAA has an unprecedented opportunity to advance its end-to-end modeling capability to meet both operational and research requirements. In January 2015, the NOAA administrator has tasked the NOAA Chief Scientist to revise the integrated modeling strategy connecting individual projects and programs across all the NOAA Line Offices with a common thread. The strategy is expected to be revised by the end of 2105.

A component of the NOAA integrated modeling strategy revision is a technical review of the operational modeling systems in the NCEP production suite. Specifically, the standing University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR) Community Advisory Committee for NCEP (UCACN) has formed a Modeling Advisory subcommittee (UMAC) to review the major modeling components of the production suite along with the near and longer term development plans. This will be the first ever holistic technical review and model developers across NOAA will participate to ensure communication takes place across all scales and components. Participants will also include representatives of the stakeholder community from NOAA, federal agencies, public, private and academia. The paper will provide an overview of the process, preliminary findings and associated recommendations.

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