Monday, 10 February 2003
Revolutionizing Naval Meteorology Training
The U.S. Navy has trained enlisted operational weather forecasters for many years and for the past twenty-five side-by-side with the U.S. Air Force and Marine Corps. The Navy and Marines have embarked on a project to modernize the Aerographer’s Mate (Weather Forecaster) school. This school must take a Sailor/Marine with some weather background, typically as an observer for 3-4 years, and prepare them for duty as a qualified forecaster for year-round worldwide military operations via a 7-month course of instruction. Many of the eventual forecasting environments for the graduates call for highly independent operations. The challenge of this effort was to take an outdated and largely paper-based curriculum and laboratory approach, update it with the latest methods and tools, and deliver in an instructor-led electronic format. With a theme of “scientifically correct, operationally relevant”, a vastly modernized course of instruction has been fielded. Because advanced mathematics cannot be assumed of the students, the curriculum relies heavily on conceptual explanations including state-of-the-art visualizations. The “scientifically correct” requirement has been met with collaborative partnerships with subject-matter experts from the COMET Program, the University of South Alabama and the Naval Research Laboratory. The "operational relevance” has been assured through the involvement of many current Navy and Marine Corps forecasters in both developing and reviewing the actual electronic presentations, laboratory exercises and lesson plans.
The meteorology education community may find many aspects of this effort applicable to their own needs. The conceptual, but still rigorous treatment of meteorology concepts may be particularly useful in undergraduate settings as a supplement to traditional mathematical approaches, and in meeting a subset of continuing educational needs of other operational forecasters.