ESRL Integrating Research and Technology Themes

Regional and Local-Scale Assimilation and Modeling

  1. Goal and Scope
  2. The goal of regional and local-scale modeling is to improve short-range weather prediction of all types. Regional and local-scale atmospheric modeling is a basic activity that supports many other modeling efforts such as air quality modeling, severe weather prediction, fire weather prediction, transportation, etc.

    Regional and local-scale modeling includes:

    • Regional and local-scale assimilation - Use of diverse set of in situ, satellite, aircraft and surface data to develop the initial state of the atmosphere.
    • Dynamic Core - Development and improvement of model dynamic cores. This is primarily the Weather Research and Forecast community model at the current time.
    • Physics Packages - These are the subsystems used by the model to simulate atmospheric process such as cloud microphysics, radiation, surface fluxes etc.
    • Statistical Post Processing - The conversion of a model prediction into an optimal usable data set for weather service providers (government and private.)
    • Developmental Test Center - The WRF model requires a test center to determine the role its component subsystems (e.g. assimilation, dynamic core, physics packages) can play in the ongoing improvement of the model, with the goal being to accelerate improvements to operational models.

  3. Rationale and Payoffs
  4. Regional and local-scale modeling is a crucial component of NOAA's operational services. This activity directly supports a process of continuous improvement of NOAA's services to the nation. Specifically, it leads to improve severe weather prediction, air quality prediction, transportation weather services etc.

  5. Major Collaborators and Their Research Foci
    1. Earth System Research Laboratory
      • Global Systems Division: Assimilation (determination of the initial atmospheric state using heterogeneous observations), dynamic core development (the formulation of the conservation equations of physics and numerical techniques needed to integrate atmospheric state forward in time), physics packages, and the Developmental Test Center.
      • Physical Sciences Division: Physics packages - these are model components such as radiation, clouds (i.e. microphysics) and boundary layer exchanges that allow the prediction to simulate these affects that are important in the real atmosphere.
      • Chemical Sciences Division: Air quality modeling.
    2. Other NOAA
      • National Severe Storms Lab: Physics packages, statistical post processing (taking the model forecast and using statistical techniques modify the model variables in accordance with past data to improve the prediction) assimilation.
      • Air Resources Lab: Air quality modeling.
      • NWS MDL: Statistical post processing.
      • NWS NCEP: Assimilation, dynamic core development, physics packages.
      • NOS and NMFS: Collaborative studies - assimilations and targeted physical and biological impacts.
    3. Others
      • JCSDA: Assimilation of satellite data
      • NCAR: Core non-hydrostatic modeling capability; model implementation on parallel computers.
      • CIRA: Model physics improvements.
  6. Contributions to NOAA Goals
    • NOAA's Strategic Plan FY 2005-FY 2010. 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. "Community modeling approaches . . . (such as) the Weather Research and Forecast model . . .will accelerate the transfer of new models into operations." (p. 8)
    • Science and Technology Infusion Plan 2004. "Improve and couple models: New WRF model applications including hurricanes, rapid refresh, chemistry." (p.18)
  7. Major Information Products, Customers, and Linkages
  8. The customers for improved regional models are the entire weather community who use these models. The direct customers are the National Centers for Environmental Prediction of the National Weather Service who use the results of model testing and improvement to improve their operational models. NOAA regional and local-scale modeling also serves the NWS field offices (WFOs), River Forecast Centers (RFCs), and NWS regional offices. Other direct customers include the large community of industry, government and international users who will be running ever improving versions of the WRF model.