Web Homepage: http://www.fsl.noaa.gov
Sandra J. Aschert, Administrative Officer, 303-497-6803
(The above roster, current when document is published, includes government, cooperative agreement, and commercial affiliate staff.)
Address: NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory Mail Code: FSA
FSL was established in October 1988, and is one of 12 research laboratories under the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research (OAR) of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), within the Department of Commerce. The mission of FSL is to transfer new research findings in atmospheric, oceanic, and hydrologic sciences to the operational elements of NOAA and other domestic and foreign organizations. It conducts programs (involving the following activities ) to integrate, evaluate, and apply developments to information and forecast systems.
The Office of Administration and Research, under the Office of the Director, provides management support, administrative support led by an Administrative Officer, IT support, contract administration, and visitor and information services (Figure 2).
The Information and Technology Services (ITS) is also under the Office of the Director. The FSL Chief Information Officer manages the ITS, responsible for the computers, communications and data networks, and associated peripherals that FSL staff use to accomplish their research and systems development mission. The FSL Central Facility comprises dozens of computers ranging from workstations and servers to a High Performance Technologies, Inc. (HPTi) supercomputer. The facility contains a wide variety of meteorological data-ingest interfaces, storage devices, local- and wide-area networks, communications links to external networks, and display devices. Over 700 Internet Protocol-capable hosts and network devices include Unix hosts, PCs and Macintoshes, and network routers, hubs, and switches. These hardware and associated software enable FSL staff to design, develop, test, evaluate, and transfer to operations advanced weather information systems and new forecasting techniques. Data and products are also provided for research activities at other NOAA Research Laboratories, the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR), and university laboratories.
Six divisions carry out the research and development activities, as follows.
The Demonstration Division evaluates promising atmospheric observing technologies developed by NOAA and other federal agencies and organizations and determines their value in the operational domain. Activities range from the demonstration of scientific and engineering innovations to the management of new systems and technologies. Current activities include the operation, maintenance, and improvement of the NOAA Profiler Network (including three sites in Alaska), which provides data not available elsewhere, and reliable hourly observations of winds from the surface to the lower stratosphere. The Radio Acoustic Sounding System (RASS) technique has been demonstrated and proved beneficial for remote sensing of temperatures at profiler sites. A more recent project, the GPS-Met Demonstration Network, has shown that the addition of ground-based GPS water vapor observations to a numerical weather prediction model improves forecast accuracy, especially under conditions of active weather. Wind and temperature data from Boundary Layer Profilers operated by other organizations are also collected and distributed for research and operational use.
The Systems Development Division works closely with other FSL groups in providing technical expertise on functional specifications for new workstation and interactive display systems. Object-oriented technology is utilized to design and develop systems, such as the Local Data Acquisition and Dissemination (LDAD) system which provides NWS forecasters access to detailed local mesoscale observations that enhance federal observing systems. State and local emergency preparedness agencies benefit from LDAD's gridded weather data, severe weather warnings and advisories, point observations, and radar precipitation data. Other systems include the Quality Control and Monitoring System (QCMS) that provides users and suppliers of hydrometeorological observations with readily available quality control statistics. Two surface assimilation systems, the MAPS Surface Analysis System (MSAS) and the Rapid Update Cycle Surface Assimilation System (RSAS), provide direct measurements of surface conditions and give crucial indicators of potential for severe weather. In addition, the Meteorological Assimilation Data Ingest System (MADIS) provides quality-controlled observations (such as radiosonde, automated aircraft, windprofiler, and surface datasets) and data access software to university and government data assimilation researchers.
The Aviation Division promotes safer skies through improved aviation weather products. In collaboration with the NWS, Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), Department of Defense (DOD), and Department of Transportation (DOT) it provides improved weather forecasting, product visualization, and verification capabilities to civilian and military forecasters, pilots, air traffic controllers, and airline dispatchers. Through research and development of high-performance computing, it also ensures continued improvement of high-resolution numerical weather analysis and prediction systems.
The Modernization Division specifies requirements for advanced meteorological workstations, product and technique development, and new forecast preparation concepts and techniques. It manages the development and fielding of advanced prototype meteorological systems into operational National Weather Service (NWS) forecast offices, and performs objective evaluations of these operational systems. The division plays a major role in development and operational use of AWIPS at over 100 NWS forecast offices. It provides management and direction for research in the latest scientific and technical advances, with special emphasis on their potential application to operational meteorology.
The International Division oversees internal development of systems intended primarily for global or international application. It is involved in several international cooperative technology transfer agreements, such as implementation of a totally updated forecast center at the Central Weather Bureau (CWB) of Taiwan and development of a Forecaster's Analysis System for the Korea Meteorological Administration. The division also supports the successful GLOBE (Global Learning and Observations to Benefit the Environment) program, an international environmental educational and research program that links the efforts of students, teachers, and scientists. More than 10,000 students worldwide monitor various environmental parameters and regularly post their findings on the Internet. GLOBE provides a unique global database of atmospheric, soil, biologic, and hydrologic measurements, which are used by researchers and students for a multitude of experiments. The FX-Net National, a real-time meteorological PC workstation that makes AWIPS products available over the Internet, has been implemented. Development of the FSL WorldWide Workstation (W4) is underway in support of improved information for synoptic and mesoscale weather forecasts and early warnings of severe weather events to international customers.