FSL in Review 2001 - 2002

Cover/Title Page

Organizational Chart

Office of the Director

Office of Administration
and Research

Information and
Technology Services

Forecast Research

Demonstration Division

Systems Development

Aviation Division

Modernization Division

International Division


Acronyms and Terms

Figures Listing

Contact the Editor
Nita Fullerton

Web Design:
Will von Dauster
John Osborn

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FIR 2001 - 2002 AD MastHead
Dr. Michael J. Kraus, Chief
(Supervisory Meteorologist)

Web Homepage: http://www-ad.fsl.noaa.gov/

Cherie L. Adams, Secretary Office Automation, 303-497-6122
Young S. Chun, Research Associate, 303-497-6426
Chris Fischer, Research Associate, 303-497-7451
Jim Frimel, Research Associate, 303-497-7429
Lisa Gifford, Programmer, 303-497-4274
Mark W. Govett, Computer Specialist, 303-497-6278
Joan E. Hart, Research Associate, 303-497-6882
Judy K. Henderson, Computer Scientist, 303-497-6940
Thomas Henderson, Computer Scientist, 303-497-6060
Mike Kay, Associate Scientist II, 303-497-4323
Ward Lemke, Systems Administrator, 303-497-7762
Andrew Loughe, Research Associate, 303-497-6211
Jennifer L. Mahoney, Meteorologist -
Chief, Forecast Verification Branch, 303-497-6514
Chris Masters, Consultant, 479-243-9203
Jacques Middlecoff, Research Associate, 303-497-6034
Douglas Ohlhorst, Systems Administrator, 303-497-6922
Gregory Pratt, Computer Specialist -
Chief, Aviation Systems: Development and Deployment Branch, 303-497-7237
Dennis M. Rodgers, Meteorologist, 303-497-6933
Dan Schaffer, Computer Scientist, 303-497-7252
Dr. Lynn A. Sherretz, Meteorologist -
Chief, Aviation Requirements and Applications Branch, 303-497-5580
Beth Sigren, Research Associate, 303-497-7044
Dr. Christopher E. Steffen, Research Associate, 303-497-6247
Sher M. Wagoner, Senior Systems Analyst, 303-497-7254

(The above roster, current when document is published, includes government, cooperative agreement, and commercial affiliate staff.)

Address: NOAA Forecast Systems Laboratory – Mail Code: FS5
David Skaggs Research Center
325 Broadway
Boulder, Colorado 80305-3328


The Aviation Division collaborates with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA), the National Weather Service (NWS) and the Departments of Defense and Transportation. The product of these collaborations is an improved weather forecasting and visualization capability for use by military and civilian forecasters, air traffic controllers, air traffic managers, airline dispatchers, and general aviation pilots. More opportunities to develop better weather products now exist because of new observing systems, recent advances in understanding the atmosphere, and higher performance computing capabilities.

The division comprises four branches:

Aviation Requirements and Applications Branch – Defines requirements for generating and disseminating aviation weather products; develops the capability to assess the quality of products generated automatically and by aviation weather forecasters, and the "guidance" forecasters use to generate those products.

Aviation Systems: Development and Deployment Branch – Manages enhancement, testing, fielding, and supporting of advanced meteorological workstations for the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC); develops Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) Web products (Figure 57) for use by the aviation community.

Figure 57 - ADDS Screen

Figure 57. An ADDS screen showing the new experimental Forecast Icing Potential (FIP) Webpage, http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/.

Advanced Computing Branch – Assures the continuing improvement of high-resolution numerical weather analysis and prediction systems through research and development in high-performance computing.

Forecast Verification Branch – Develops verification techniques, mainly focusing on aviation weather forecasts, and tools that allow forecasters, researchers, developers, and program leaders to generate and display statistical information in near real time using the Real-Time Verification System (RTVS).

In addition to its own activities, the Aviation Division provides funds for other FSL divisions to assist in achieving these goals.

Aviation Requirements and Applications Branch
Lynn A. Sherretz, Chief


The Aviation Requirements and Applications Branch develops requirements for advanced products and software tools for the aviation community. The software tools include flight planning tools for pilots, air traffic controllers and managers, and airline dispatchers, and product generation and grid interaction tools for aviation weather forecasters.

The branch serves as the focal point for coordinating activities with the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP) and the U.S. Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA), organizations which fund the development efforts. Two other functions involve leading the AWRP Product Development Team for Aviation Forecasts and Quality Assessment (AF&QA), and facilitating projects that provide the Air Force with globally relocatable, high-resolution atmospheric analyses (using the Air Force's global datasets).

Flight Planning Tools

In collaboration with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC), we continue to develop the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS). Aviation decision-makers can use this Internet-based system to access text, graphics, grids and images of up-to-the-minute observations, and forecasts of high-resolution aviation impact variables (AIVs) tailored to specific flight routes. The ADDS Website (Figure 58) is available at http://adds.aviationweather.gov.

Figure 58 - ADDS Java Tool

Figure 58. Screen showing a Java tool available at the ADDS Website, http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov/.

Product Generation Tools

The branch is serving as the focal point for developing and evaluating the utility of advanced weather display products for FAA Traffic Management Units (TMUs), which are tasked with managing air traffic in enroute and terminal environments. This effort includes developing and evaluating the utility of software that enables NWS Center Weather Service Unit (CWSU) forecasters to collaborate in real-time to generate products for TMUs.

Program Development and Technology Transfer Project

The goal of the Program Development and Technology Transfer project is to expand FSL's opportunities to develop new collaborative activities with domestic and foreign research and operational groups within government, educational institutions, and the private sector. The project leaders will build on FSL's expertise in numerical weather prediction, data assimilation, high-performance computing, and observing systems. Advances in weather warning support, dissemination, and graphical forecast editing are among the technologies planned for infusion into operational weather services during the coming years.


Flight Planning Tools

During 2001, along with NCAR, the branch continued working on enhancements to ADDS. Examples of tasks undertaken include the implementation of an electronic forum that enables ADDS developers to post news and ADDS users to pose questions, receive and respond to replies, and interact with other ADDS users. A capability was developed for the generation of satellite images at AWC (instead of Boulder), a key step in making ADDS fully operational.

Assistance was also provided to the FAA William J. Hughes Technical Center in preparing for an evaluation of the utility of ADDS as an interactive visual component of weather briefings for General Aviation (GA) pilots provided via telephone by FAA Flight Service Stations.

Product Generation Tools

The branch participated in a joint FAA/NWS working group to define requirements for weather information for FAA TMUs. Assistance was provided the FAA in preparing a detailed research plan for rapid prototyping of weather products for TMUs and methods for collaboratively generating those products. In coordination with the NWS Southern Region, a Test and Evaluation facility was set up at the Fort Worth, Texas, Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC).

In preparation for prototyping advanced products for TMUs at the Fort Worth ARTCC, FX-Connect workstations were implemented and tested at the Fort Worth CWSU and NWS Weather Forecast Office (WFO). Staff also set up these workstations to display map backgrounds relevant to aviation operations, a graphical version of Convective SIGMETs, and the automated National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF) product, which was recently developed by the FAA Product Development Team for Convection and declared operational by the FAA and NWS.

The FX-Connect systems will access AWIPS data from the prototype AWIPS server at the NWS Aviation Weather Center in Kansas City. FX-Connect enables forecasters at various locations and on various computer platforms to view concurrently and in real time basic AWIPS weather displays; invoke basic workstation functions such as animating, zooming, and overlaying; and collaboratively generate (in real time) free-hand and icon-based graphical products. This system can be readily adapted to ingest local data and display output generated by advanced algorithms and forecast models. It is also ideal for rapid prototyping because it resides outside of the AWIPS firewall, thus providing the flexibility to make rapid enhancements.

Program Development and Technology Transfer Project

In keeping with FSL's mission to transfer new technology and research findings to other NOAA offices and other users of environmental information, many new program development activities are underway. A cooperative agreement between FSL and the Colorado State University's Cooperative Institute for Research in the Atmosphere (CIRA) was approved in 2001. The agreement was developed to provide a defined cooperative relationship with scientists at both institutions working on solving operational weather problems. Government collaborators from all agencies now have a unique opportunity for applied research experts to transfer the best of new scientific advances and technologies to their weather observing and forecasting systems.

FSL collaborated with the Air Force Weather Agency (AFWA) and the Global Weather Center (GWC) to provide software systems, meteorological science, and systems integration support for the development of the Weather Research and Forecasting (WRF) community model.

FSL's technology has been an important part of the Air Force's re-engineering program. The Range Standardization and Automation (RSA) system will serve the needs of launch weather support, daily operations, range safety, and other activities. The RSA project involves other FSL technology transfer tasks that have been funded by Lockheed-Martin. FSL has developed a version of the AWIPS workstation to be deployed at the launch support sites at Cape Kennedy, Florida; Patrick Air Force Base, Florida; and the Western Launch Range weather support unit at Vandenberg AFB, California.

Additional program development activities were begun with private partners, such as Lockheed Martin, involving the WorldWide Weather Workstation (W4) and FX-Net systems.

Regarding the GPS-IPW program development, a collaboration was established with the GPS Positioning group at Schriever AFB, Colorado, the DOT Federal Highways Administration (FHWA) and their Intelligent Transportation Systems.


Flight Planning Tools

The primary focus during 2002 will be to continue collaboration with NCAR and the Aviation Weather Center (AWC) in the implementation of ADDS operationally at AWC, with complete implementation expected in 2003.

A key task will be to enable ADDS to conform to criteria for reliability, accessibility, security and archiving set forth by the FAA in order to qualify as an approved provider of weather information over the Internet. The criterion for archiving requires reproducing the specific data requested by individual users for at least 15 days following the request. To meet this recommendation, all products will be archived and each product request and ADDS response will be recorded. It will not be feasible for ADDS (also the case for other Internet-based aviation weather systems) to ascertain if users receive or look at the products.

Operational and software documentation will be prepared to assist AWC staff in fully supporting ADDS by familiarizing AWC with ADDS software and hardware. Plans are to implement the same development environment at AWC that NCAR and FSL use, thereby ensuring that any "fixes" that AWC makes have a path to future versions.

Product Generation Tools

Plans are underway to rapidly prototype convective products for FAA TMUs. Initially the prototype convective products will focus on combining the attributes of Convective SIGMETS and the NCWF, which automatically generates a forecast every five minutes, valid for 60 minutes. A later development will enable CWSU forecasters to generate a new prototype product on FX-Connect that complements the Collaborative Convective Forecast Product (CCFP) by identifying convection that is not covered by the CCFP but may impact key jet routes or arrival and departure gates at DFW airport. The CCFP (valid at 2, 4, and 6 hours) is generated every 4 hours by AWC with input from the CWSUs and the airlines.

Prototype products for the Fort Worth TMU will be generated by a Web server at FSL that ingests automated and/or value-added forecasts from the FX-Connect system at the Fort Worth ARTCC, and generates images of prototype forecasts for display on the existing Web browser at the TMU. The images will include the prototype forecasts and "official" Convective SIGMETs or CCFPs, as appropriate.

An FX-Connect workstation will be implemented at the Houston, Texas, CWSU, which will enable FSL to evaluate the utility of real-time collaboration between the Fort Worth and Houston CWSUs.

Finally, the software required to display prototype inflight icing products will be prepared during fall 2002. The initial product will focus on the Current Icing Potential (CIP) and the automated Integrated Icing Forecast Algorithm (IIFA) in context with conventional AIRMETs and SIGMETs for icing.

Program Development and Technology Transfer Project

FSL will actively seek collaborative and/or funded partnerships with:
  • DOD, NOAA's Space Environment Center, and the National Geodetic Survey – to develop an integrated, high accuracy, real-time positioning and navigation model.
  • DOT, Federal Highways Adiminstration, and the Intelligent Transportation Systems program – to integrate their National Differential GPS (NDGPS) network into FSL's existing GPS-IPW network for the purpose of increasing the density of the IPW observing system.
  • NOAA/NWS – to provide GPS-IPW education and additional data to forecasters and Science Operation Officers (SOOs) to increase the use and understanding of the dataset.
  • DOD – to utilize the FSL-developed FX-Net compression techniques for gridded data transmission for DOD operational weather systems, the Integrated Meteorological System (IMETS) and the Global Theater Weather Analysis and Prediction System (GTWAPS).
  • DOD – to utilize the Graphical Forecast Editor (GFE) applications in the DOD forecast workstations.

FSL will increase efforts to create new collaborations with other domestic and international research and operational groups in the private sector, government, and educational institutions that can utilize mature technologies developed at FSL. Other outreach plans in support of program development include finding additional venues for systems demonstrations and technical presentations and developing a Website that highlights collaborative project opportunities at FSL.

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Aviation Systems: Development and Deployment Branch
Greg Pratt, Chief


The Aviation Systems: Development and Deployment Branch is responsible for adding enhancements, testing, fielding, and operationally supporting prototype aviation weather systems for Aviation Division projects. Current branch activities involve the Aviation Digital Data Service (ADDS) project, the Enhanced Traffic Management System (ETMS) project, and the Traffic Management Unit (TMU) project.

Aviation Digital Data Service Project

The ADDS is a Web-based real-time aviation weather dissemination system (http://adds.aviationweather.noaa.gov) with a primary objective to facilitate a safer and more efficient National Airspace System (NAS). To accomplish this goal, the ADDS provides aviation decision-makers (pilots and dispatchers) with easy, inexpensive, real-time access to the latest operational aviation weather observations and forecasts, along with experimental products based on research funded by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP). Users can view and retrieve aviation weather in a variety of formats that they can tailor to fit their individual needs. The user can view and print text products and pregenerated graphics products, or interactively query the ADDS site by running Java applets.

A secondary goal of the ADDS is to rapidly release new and improved aviation weather products to the aviation community. The ADDS meets this goal by involving the user at an early stage in the development cycle. User feedback from the ADDS Advanced User Group, the ADDS Forum, and e-mail determines design decisions and product usability. This means that end-users are involved in the requirements phase and determine whether a product is useful by accessing it during the experimental portion of the development cycle. The end-user determines the needs and when they have been met.

The branch continues to work jointly with the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) and the Aviation Weather Center to add functionality and support the ADDS Website. The ADDS is funded through the Aviation Forecast and Quality Assessment (AF&QA) Product Development Team by the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program.

Enhanced Traffic Management System Project

The ETMS is a real-time aircraft tracking system being used operationally by all FAA air traffic control personnel to direct aircraft flow in the United States NAS. Goals of the ETMS are to maintain save airways, help minimize delays, and conserve energy. Weather plays a key role in all three of these areas. The branch has developed and operationally deployed the Aviation Weather Network, designed to add real-time weather information to the ETMS for display on the Traffic Situation Display and provide automation support for strategic planning of the National Airspace System.

Work continues with the Volpe National Transportation Systems Center (the Volpe Center, funds ETMS) in integrating new aviation-tailored weather products on the Aircraft Situation Display and upgrading the Aviation Weather Network to handle the latest improvements to the Rapid Update Cycle (RUC) gridded datasets. The RUC grids are used to create displays for the Traffic Situation Display and provide automation support for strategic planning of the National Airspace System. The RUC model, developed at FSL, is tailored for the aviation community.

Traffic Management Unit Project

The Traffic Management Unit project is a rapid prototyping effort designed to test and demonstrate the effective employment of developing science, technology, and computer communication interfaces in developing new weather products for decision-makers at the Dallas-Fort Worth Air Route Traffic Control Center (ARTCC). The Traffic Management Unit project will initially develop a wide range of high-resolution forecast products specifically tailored to the ARTCC air traffic environment. These products will be developed in four phases: phase I will focus on convective forecasts, phase II icing, phase III turbulence, and pase IV ceiling and visibility.

The Traffic Management Unit project supports two goals: 1) establish procedures for generating automated guidance products, and 2) share common datasets among operational aviation forecasters at different locales, and demonstrate how the employment of collaborative forecasting methodologies can lead to significant improvements in the accuracy and consistency of NWS-generated aviation forecast products. Accomplishing these objectives will in the end produce a more efficient use of the National Airspace System, greater safety to the airline customer, and cost savings to the aviation community.

The branch continues to work with the Modernization Division and forecasters from the Dallas-Fort Worth Center Weather Service Unit at defining, developing, and deploying automated forecast products to be used by traffic managers at the Dallas-Fort Worth ARTCC. The Traffic Management Unit project is funded through the AF&QA Product Development Team by the FAA Aviation Weather Research Program.


Aviation Digital Data Service Project

This year work involved moving the operational support and maintenance of the ADDS to Aviation Weather Center developers and technicians. A common code base was established among NCAR and FSL developers, and all Java applets are now a part of this code base. The AWIPS/Linux system was modified to handle satellite data ingest/image creation, and this system was added to the ADDS product/process monitor. A new version of the PIREPs (pilot reports) applet was implemented which takes advantage of the common code base and extends the code base by adding functionality to the time slider bar to allow for composite PIREPs data views of up to six hours of data. The ADDS team is working with Aviation Weather Center to move operational support to that center. Pilots and Flight Service Station personnel participated in a demonstration to determine if ADDS could play a part in a preflight pilot weather briefing. At this time, ADDS will not be used by Flight Service Station personnel to give pilot briefings. Work on hand-held device access to ADDS has been redirected to work with the private sector on hand-held access to ADDS. The team is developing a TAF (Terminal Aerodrome Forecast) decoder that will store TAF messages in a relational database (MySql).

Enhanced Traffic Management System Project

The focus of ETMS work centered around obtaining funding to upgrade the Aviation Weather Network to support the 40-km RUC and 1-degree AVN data grids. WSI International supplies the Volpe Center with the operational weather data that feed the Aviation Weather Network system. Currently all of the weather data comes from the Family of Services datasets. In the WSI data stream, the 40-km RUC data have been put into an 80-km Eta model grid, and the AVN model data uses a 1-degree sparse grid. The branch worked with the Volpe Center and WSI to get the 40-km RUC and 1-degree AVN data directly from NCEP. The branch upgraded the Northern Hemisphere Winds Aloft and Jet Stream products to take full advantage of these higher resolution grids. Figure 59 shows the Jet Stream product overlayed on aircraft data in real time.

Figure 59 - Jet Stream Product

Figure 59. A screen from the Jet Stream product overlayed on
aircraft data in real time.

Traffic Management Unit Project

Work on Phase I of the Traffic Management Unit project calls for enhancing the Linux-based AWIPS build 5.2.2 and FX-Collaborate systems to handle aviation map backgrounds and convective forecast products. The following products have been added:
  • Convective SIGMETs
  • Convective Outlooks
  • National Convective Weather Forecast
  • National Convective Detection Product
  • National Convective Detection Motion Vectors and Cloud heights
  • Collaborative Convective Forecast Product
  • VOR (VHF Omnidirectional Range) maps
  • Jet Route maps
  • ZFW TRACON scale and map background
  • ZFW ARTCC scale
  • ZHU TRACON scale and map background
  • ZHU ARTCC scale.

The Linux-based AWIPS 5.2.2 automated image software has been updated to handle sizing of jpeg images, color changes to map backgrounds through the use of the AWIPS configuration files, and zooming. A Website was created for disseminating the real-time data products created for the ARTCC traffic managers at the Dallas-Fort Worth ARTCC, http://tmu.fsl.noaa.gov/.


Aviation Digital Data Service Project

An operational version of the ADDS will be implemented at the Aviation Weather Center, where it will be tested to ensure that the implementation and support of the ADDS system passes FAA's Qualified Internet Communications Provider policy. An ADDS development and support environment will be configured and installed at the Aviation Weather Center, and developers there will be trained on all aspects of the ADDS code. The Flight Path Tool will be enhanced to display jet routes, VOR routes, overlay METAR icons, set vertical limits, and display grids over Alaska.

The Flight Path Tool will be converted into an application for faster user response. New satellite images will be created to cover most of the world. Also, plans are to add radar images, the Collaborative Convective Forecast Product along with convective outlook products, and a new ceiling and visibility page.

Enhanced Traffic Management System Project

The team will work with the Volpe center to move all development efforts to that location.

Traffic Management Unit Project

Plans are to finish adding convective datasets to the Linux AWIPS and FX-Collaborate systems for Dallas-Fort Worth CWSU forecaster use. All of the automated convective traffic manager products will be available for use on the Traffic Management Unit project Website. Automated convective traffic manager products will be enhanced per feedback provided by Dallas-Fort Worth traffic managers and Center Weather Service Unit forecasters. Convective datasets and displays on the Linux AWIPS and FX-Collaborate systems will be enhanced per feedback gathered from the Central Weather Service Unit forecasters. The Icing phase (phase II) of the Traffic Management Unit project will be underway with the ingest and display of aviation icing products.

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Advanced Computing Branch
Thomas B. Henderson, Chief


The mission of the Advanced Computing Branch is to enable new advancements in atmospheric and oceanic sciences by making modern high-performance computers easier to use. Modern parallel supercomputers, typically composed of commodity off-the-shelf components, offer a less costly alternative to traditional vector supercomputers for the fast, efficient production of numerical forecasts. However, they are more difficult to use. The branch has developed software that simplifies the porting of numerical geophysical models from FSL, other NOAA/OAR laboratories, the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP), and other organizations to modern parallel computing architectures. The culmination of this development is the Scalable Modeling System (SMS).

Using SMS, parallelism is added to a Fortran program by inserting directives in the form of Fortran comments. SMS then automatically translates this source code into parallel source code, inserting calls to SMS subroutines that perform interprocess communication and other parallel operations as needed. Since the directives are comments, a single source code can be maintained for both serial and parallel machines. Also, automatic source code translation allows complexity to be hidden from users to a greater degree than more traditional subroutine-based approaches.

The SMS subroutines form a software layer between the prediction model's source code and Message Passing Interface (MPI), the industry standard for interprocessor communication. This layered approach provides SMS users with ease of use, minimal impact to their source code, portability, and high performance. Source codes that include SMS directives are fully portable to most high-performance computers, Unix workstations, and symmetric multiprocessors (SMPs). SMS subroutines provide high-performance scalable I/O supporting both native and portable file formats. Also, data ordering in files is independent of the number of processors used. Further, since parallel operations are implemented as a layered set of routines, machine-dependent optimizations have been made inside SMS without impacting the model source code. SMS also supports many user-specified optimizations. For example, the execution of redundant computations to avoid time-consuming interprocessor communication will reduce run times in some cases. SMS also provides tools to assist in testing and debugging of parallel programs.

Several atmospheric and oceanic analysis and prediction models have been parallelized using SMS, including Quasi-nonhydrostatic (FSL), Rapid Update Cycle (FSL), Local Analysis and Prediction System (FSL), Regional Ocean Modeling System (Rutgers University/UCLA, Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory), Global Forecast System (Central Weather Bureau, Taiwan), Typhoon Forecast System (Central Weather Bureau, Taiwan), NALROM (Aeronomy Laboratory), Princeton Ocean Model (Environmental Technology Laboratory), Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model (Los Alamos National Laboratory/University of Miami), and Eta (NCEP). Computer architectures supported by the SMS include the IBM SP2, Cray T3E, SGI Origin 3000, Sun E10000, HP Exemplar, Linux clusters (both Intel and Compaq Alpha), and other Unix workstations and SMPs.


During 2001, SMS was improved in many ways and has attracted new users. The branch continues its collaborative efforts to support the development of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model, and has become involved in related efforts such as the Joint Modeling Testbed.

SMS was used to parallelize 1) an atmospheric chemistry code (NALROM) for the Aeronomy Laboratory, 2) a version of the Princeton Ocean Model for the Environmental Technology Laboratory, and 3) the Hybrid Coordinate Ocean Model for Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The SMS parallel Regional Ocean Modeling System (ROMS) was enhanced to support scientists at the Pacific Marine Environment Laboratory (PMEL). The branch supported users of SMS ROMS at Rutgers University, PMEL, Arctic Region Supercomputing Center, and New Zealand's National Institute for Water and Atmospheric Research.

The branch continued development and enhancement of the functionality and portability of the SMS, and updated documentation with each new release. The most significant newly developed features are additional runtime debugging tools, support for more flexible decompositions, and extended support for Fortran90 syntax. The performance of the SMS interprocess communications was improved; tests using MPI and SMS versions of NCEP's Eta model showed the SMS version performance now exceeding NCEP's hand-coded MPI version. Training on SMS was provided for scientists from NOAA and other organizations.

The branch continued development of the Weather Research and Forecast (WRF) model. In close collaboration with NCAR and others, they worked on the design and implementation of enhancements to the WRF I/O API, and on preliminary designs for a nesting API.

Support continued to be provided, as needed, for the parallel RUC and Quasi-Nonhydrostatic (QNH) models, for users of the High-Performance Computing System at FSL, and for the HPCS management team regarding hardware and software upgrades. Research results were published in conference proceedings of the Ninth European Center for Medium Range Weather Forecasts Workshop on the use of High-Performance Computing in Meteorology.

Collaborations began with NCEP to establish a Joint Modeling Testbed at FSL.

Parallelization of the fully nested version of the Typhoon Forecast System (TFS) for the Taiwan Central Weather Bureau was completed.


Plans for 2002 include:
  • Use SMS to parallelize a coupled POM-ice model for NASA's Goddard Space Flight Center.
  • Use SMS to parallelize other atmospheric and oceanic models as needed.
  • Continue to develop and enhance SMS and to port it to new computer architectures.
  • Continue to support users of SMS and of FSL's High-Performance Computing System.
  • Provide SMS user training.
  • Continue to participate in the design and implementation of the WRF model.
  • Continue collaboration with NCEP to establish a Joint Modeling Testbed at FSL.
  • Publish results in conference proceedings and journals.
  • Support acceptance testing and integration of the HPCS final upgrade.
  • Support procurement activities for acquisition of FSL's next HPCS.

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Forecast Verification Branch
Jennifer Luppens Mahoney, Chief


Verification is the key to providing information for improving weather forecasts. As part of FSL's involvement with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Aviation Weather Research Program (AWRP), the Forecast Verification Branch develops verification techniques, mainly focusing on aviation weather forecasts, and tools that allow forecasters, researchers, developers and program leaders to generate and display statistical information in near real time using the Real-Time Verification System (RTVS).

As part of the FSL strategic plan, the branch strives to maintain a strong verification program by working closely with other agencies, such as the National Center for Atmospheric Research (NCAR) Research Applications Program, National Weather Service (NWS), and the National Centers for Environmental Prediction (NCEP). The technology developed through these close interactions can benefit all agencies by building and strengthening the verification programs.

Real-Time Verification System (RTVS)

Scientists at FSL are developing RTVS, in collaboration with scientists at NCAR and the NWS Aviation Weather Center (AWC), as a tool for assessing the quality of weather forecasts. RTVS has been designed to provide a statistical baseline for weather forecasts and model-based guidance products, support real-time forecast operations, model-based algorithm development, and case study assessments. To this end, RTVS was designed to ingest weather forecasts and observations in near real time and store the relevant information in a relational database management system (RDBMS). A flexible easy-to-use Web-based graphical user interface allows users quick and easy access to the data stored in the RDBMS. Users can compare various forecast lengths and issue times, over a user-defined time period and geographical area, for a variety of forecast models and algorithms.

The RTVS has become an integral part of the Federal Aviation Administration Aviation Weather Research Program by providing a mechanism for monitoring and tracking the improvements of AWRP-sponsored forecast products. RTVS runs operationally at the AWC providing feedback directly to forecasters and managers in near real time.

Verification Methods

The branch is an active participant, in collaboration with NCAR, in developing and testing state-of-the-art verification methods, with an emphasis mainly on aviation and precipitation forecast problems. New techniques have been developed for convection, icing, turbulence, ceiling and visibility, and precipitation. Many of these techniques are applied to aviation forecasts that have been deemed "unverifiable." Nevertheless, the development and implementation of these verification methods are leading to a better understanding and improvement in the aviation forecasts.


During 2001, an end-to-end RTVS was delivered to the AWC. Three modules were implemented at AWC, including real-time processing of the AWC icing and turbulence forecast/observation pairs using AWC decoded data, storage, and access of the data through the RDBMS and display through a newly developed Web-based graphical user interface.

Extensive verification activities supporting the transition of the National Convective Weather Forecast (NCWF) and the Integrated Icing Diagnosis Algorithm (IIDA) were completed. The results were used in the FAA/NWS decision process regarding whether to transfer the algorithm from an experimental phase to a fully operational weather product that would be supported by NWS.

The RTVS was modified and statistics were generated for three real-time objective intercomparison exercises, including turbulence, convection, and icing. The turbulence exercise was held from 8 February–31 March 2001, during which 14 algorithms over 5 domains at 2 different altitude bands were compared to the operational turbulence forecast (that is, AIRMETs). More information is available at the main RTVS Webpage, http://www-ad.fsl.noaa.gov/fvb/rtvs/index.html (Figure 60).

Figure 60 - RTVS Web Screen

Figure 60. Screen from the main RTVS Webpage.


The Forecast Verification Branch will continue with real-time objective intercomparison exercises for turbulence, convection, and ceiling and visibility. The RTVS will support the Convective Weather Demonstration and the International H20 (IHOP 2002) project. Extensive evaluation of the Integrated Turbulence Forecast Algorithm (ITFA) will be completed and provided to the FAA/NWS Aviation Weather Technology Transfer Board for its consideration to operational status within the NWS. The RTVS will be enhanced to include advanced diagnostic verification techniques that will allow users the ability to partition the forecasting errors. New verification tools will be developed allowing forecasters the ability to investigate and interrogate the raw forecasts and observations.

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