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Research Areas

Research Area 1: Numerical Weather Prediction

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HRRR (High Resolution Rapid Refresh) experimental 9-hour forecast of thunderstorms for April 27, 2011 in the southeast U.S. The Tuscaloosa tornadic storm, indicated by the white circle, was predicted with county-scale accuracy. Source: NOAA ESRL

The Global Systems Division is a world leader in developing storm-scale to global weather prediction models and is well aligned with NOAA’s objectives to build a holistic understanding of the Earth system and an integrated environmental modeling system. Through the research and development of the hourly-updating Rapid Refresh (RAP) and the High Resolution Rapid Refresh (HRRR) models, GSD transformed storm-scale modeling technologies to greatly improve localized severe weather forecasts by operational weather services. GSD will continue to evolve these models to better support timely decision-making, particularly for disaster preparedness, air traffic management and energy development. Working with colleagues from other organizations, GSD researchers are performing in-depth Observing System Simulation Experiments (OSSEs) and Observing System Experiments (OSEs) to quantitatively evaluate the benefits of current and future observing systems for improving weather forecasts from numerical models. GSD scientists are also working to develop the next-generation global hydrostatic and non-hydrostatic atmospheric models to help the National Weather Service build a Weather-Ready Nation. Using its own internal supercomputing facility plus external high performance computing resources, GSD is also testing the current generation of global models, running them at unprecedented resolutions in real-time, to evaluate the model output and compare the different data assimilation techniques. These results will inform model developers how to improve the next generation of global models. GSD will be at the forefront of coupling atmospheric, land surface, ocean and air chemistry models, an effort towards an earth system model which will enhance the scope and accuracy of weather predictions.

Research Area 2: Decision Support

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Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS)-II

Supporting NOAA's goal to improve preparedness, response, and recovery from weather and water events by building a Weather-Ready Nation, GSD continues to develop innovative, leading-edge forecast tools. The tools, usable by human and automated decision-making processes, will improve public safety, transportation safety and efficiency, effective usage of wind and solar energy, and improvements to other economic activities strengthening the resiliency of the Nation’s communities. Since the 1980s beginning with the Advanced Weather Interactive Processing System (AWIPS), GSD has developed and transitioned decision-support tools to the National Weather Service (NWS). Over the next 5-10 years, GSD will build and deploy advanced technologies that revolutionize and streamline operations for NWS and other partners by developing tools for: 1) issuing timely and accurate weather hazard information, 2) monitoring forecasts and providing short-term updates as weather changes, 3) two-way communication for collaboration between forecasters and decision-makers, and 4) the effective use of ensemble forecast information to better convey weather uncertainty to decision-makers and the public. GSD will continue to work with its Federal Aviation Administration partner to develop and transition state-of-the-art technologies used by air traffic planners to identify and mitigate the effects of potential weather impacts resulting from convective storms, low ceiling or visibility, icing, strong winds, or turbulence within the National Airspace System (NAS), thus improving traffic flow efficiency and reducing flight delays.

Research Area 3: Advanced Technologies

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Elementary students are treated to the SOS® display.

GSD is a world leader in advancing technologies that make it possible for: 1) numerical weather and climate prediction to occur on the fastest computer technologies available, 2) the creation of next generation weather and environmental forecast and analysis systems to ingest, manage, analyze, understand and forecast, and 3) bringing this complex information in a form viewable, understandable and seen by millions worldwide. GSD efforts are central to both Scientific and Enterprise Goals established by NOAA in its Next Generation Strategic Plan and are foundational for the creation and use of an Earth Modeling System. The advanced computing efforts in GSD have forged the basis of virtually all High Performance Computing methods used in NOAA operations and research. Through their design and management efforts, GSD researchers are leading the world in reinventing this framework for Massively Parallel Fine Grain (MPFG) systems by providing some key benchmarks in MPFG computing that are being used by industry to create the next generation hardware. GSD is reimagining how users will use and interact with global environmental information with its NOAA Earth Information System (NEIS). NEIS has leveraged the latest in server technology and new gaming paradigms developed in-house to selectively transport vast amounts of information across the Internet to scientific users who will use a visually compelling interface. GSD has been a leader closing data gaps for NOAA Operations and the meteorological community and with GSD’s recent transition of MADIS to Operations a path has been forged for rapid expansion of observation density and quality. Tools have emerged from MADIS related efforts that have led to a better understanding of real-time environmental conditions and are a clear value-added within the NWS and with other decision-making partners. NOAA calls for an educated public with an improved capacity to make scientifically informed environmental decisions. GSD is a clear NOAA leader in pursuit of this goal with its growing worldwide Science On a Sphere® (SOS) program which is actively pursuing the SOS Explorer concept to bring this information to educators and the public via the Internet.