ESRL Integrating Research and Technology Themes

Observing System Design, Simulation, and Demonstration

  1. Goal and Scope
  2. The goal of NOAA's observing system is to support the entire spectrum of its mission of observing, analyzing and predicting of the earth's oceans and atmosphere. NOAA's observing systems include local, regional and global components. The local observing system is dominated by the radar, and is not included in this topic. The regional observing system includes continental scale observations such as profilers, radiosondes, aircraft (especially ascent/descent profiles), surface observing stations, and satellites (especially geostationary). The global system includes the observations above, but has a special emphasis on the observing needed over the oceans and polar regions where satellite and new in situ systems are being designed. The polar orbiting satellites are particularly important for global observing.

    This topic includes:

    • Observing system simulation and tests - Determining the optimum mix of observing systems needed for regional and medium range weather prediction through OSSEs and OSTs.
    • Design of new observing systems - Develop concepts for components of the regional or global observing system that support NOAA's mission in ecosystems, weather, climate and transportation.
    • Demonstration of observing systems - Lead demonstration efforts for new observing systems such as profilers and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles.

  3. Rationale and Payoffs
  4. NOAA's mission is critically dependent on its observing systems. More than half of the NOAA budget goes to the development and operation of its observing systems. This activity brings a systematic approach to the future development of observing systems. If these systems are not adequately designed and tested, they can lead to very large costs and shortfalls in needed capability. The payoff is that NOAA's largest investment, particularly in its satellite and radar observing systems, can be optimized to deliver maximum capability at minimum cost. A large number of the requirements for improved knowledge and services discussed in NOAA's Strategic Plan could be better met with improved observing systems.

  5. Major Collaborators and Their Research Foci
    1. Earth System Research Laboratory
      • Global Systems Division: Experience and expertise in the system aspects of observing systems. For example, it has designed, implemented and operated a network of 35 profilers over the central U.S. It has also been developing concepts of the use of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles for use in regional and global observing.
      • Physical Sciences Division: Experience and expertise in the design, test and development of remote sensing instruments.
      • Chemical Sciences Division: Expertise in advanced instrumentation from various platforms, including ships and aircraft. Also has expertise in advanced chemistry and aerosol observing.
      • Global Monitoring Division: Extensive experience with the observing systems required for monitoring of atmospheric forcing such as gases and aerosols.
    2. Other NOAA
      • NESDIS NGDC: NPOESS Sensor Data Records and Environmental Data Records on clouds, atmospheric parameters, earth radiation budget, ocean, land, snow and ice.
      • NCEP EMC: Extensive experience in the contribution of global observing systems to operational NWP models, and they have been a leader in the Observing System Simulations.
      • Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation: The JCSDA will be doing a number of observing system simulations to test the effect of components of the global observing system on the medium range (1 to 14 day) predictions.
      • Air Resources Laboratory: ARL has developed many of the transport and diffusion models that will be used for the homeland security applications discussed at the NOAA Observing Systems Council and NOAA Research Council.
      • Climate Program: The observing system studies needed for climate will be done in cooperation with the NOAA Climate Program.
      • NOS and NMFS: Design and application of observing systems to marine systems.
    3. Other
      • NASA: Extensive experience with observing platforms, such as the various types of satellites. Has mission for development of new platforms, such as UAVs.
      • DOE: DOE has responsibility for the transport and diffusion models to be used for homeland security applications.
  6. Contributions to NOAA Goals
    • NOAA's Strategic Plan FY 2005-FY2010. Performance objective: Increase lead time and accuracy for weather and water warnings and forecasts. Outcome: Reduced loss of life, injury and damage to the economy. (p. 9)
    • Research in NOAA - A Five-Year Plan: Fiscal Years 2005 - 2009 - Research Activities: Develop a Scientific Data Stewardship and Observing System Integration and Optimization process that will enable NOAA to identify and implement the most cost-effective observations and improved observing systems. Conduct research in satellite data assimilation. (p. 21)
    • Science and Technology Infusion Plan 2004: Objective 1. Increase the temporal, spatial, sensitivity and energy spectrum resolution of observations. Objective 2. Obtain observations of new environmental elements to improve existing and enable new warning and forecast products.
  7. Major Information Products, Customers, and Linkages
  8. The direct customer for observing system research, development and demonstration are the operational observing components of NOAA, including NWS, NESDIS, NOS and NMFS. The ultimate customers of improved observing systems are the users of NOAA's observing and prediction services.