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Recent Advances at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction. “Where America’s Climate, Weather and Ocean Services Begin”. Louis W. Uccellini Director, NCEP University of Arizona October 21, 2004. Overview. Define NCEP Today’s Model Suite Recent Advancements

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recent advances at the national centers for environmental prediction

Recent Advances at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction

“Where America’s Climate, Weather and Ocean Services Begin”

Louis W. Uccellini

Director, NCEP

University of Arizona

October 21, 2004

  • Define NCEP
  • Today’s Model Suite
  • Recent Advancements
    • Climate Forecast System
    • WRF
    • Wave Watch III
    • Air Quality
  • Future Plans: Models
    • ESMF – Hybrid Approach
    • Ensembles (NAEFS)
ncep mission statement
NCEP Mission Statement

NCEP delivers national and global weather, climate, ocean and water guidance, forecasts, warnings, and analyses to its NWS Partners and External User Communities. These products and services respond to user needs to protect life and property, enhance the nation’s economy, and support the nation’s environmental information database.

NCEP Central Operations Climate Prediction Center Environmental Modeling Center Hydrometeorological Prediction Center Ocean Prediction Center

Aviation Weather Center

Space Environment Center

Tropical Prediction Center

Storm Prediction Center

ncep s future location
NCEP’s Future Location

New Location

NOAA Center for

Weather and Climate Prediction

UMD Research Park, College Park

(Early FY08)

Current Location

NOAA Science Center

World Weather Building

Camp Springs

ncep s future location1
NCEP’s Future Location

NOAA Center for

Weather and Climate Prediction

UMD Research Park, College Park

(Early FY08)


Total FTE: 429*

131 Contractors/24 Visitors

*As of 10/1/04

*54 FTE

what does ncep do
Severe Storm Outlooks

Fire Weather Outlooks

Winter Weather Guidance

Quantitative Precipitation Forecasts to 5 days

Weather Forecasts to Day 7

Day 8-14 Critical Weather Outlooks

Marine Weather Discussions

Model Discussions

Severe Weather Watches

Marine High Seas Forecasts

Hurricane Watches and Warnings

Aviation Warnings (Convective, Turbulence, Icing)

Climate Forecasts (Weekly to Seasonal to Interannual)

Solar Monitoring – geomagnetic storm forecasts

What Does NCEP Do?

Guidance to Support WFO/RFC

National Products

  • Model Development, Implementation and Applications for Global and RRegional Weather, Climate, Oceans and now Space Weather
  • International Partnerships in Ensemble Forecasts
  • Data Assimilation including the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation
  • Super Computer, Workstation and Network Operations
ncep s future is built upon
NCEP’s Future is Built Upon:
  • Climate-Weather-Water-Land-Chemistry Linkages; for example
    • Seasonal Hurricane Outlooks & Extratropical Storm patterns
    • Meteorological-Hydrological forecasts
    • Ocean and atmosphere coupled forecasts
    • Atmosphere-Land Processes coupled forecasts
    • Relationship of solar activity on service provision and climate fluctuations
    • Ozone forecasts by combining air chemistry and operational models
  • “Seamless Suite” of products through a collaborative approach
  • Extension of predictability of Weather and Climate (from snowstorms to ENSO); Improve the forecasts of Extreme Events
  • Community Model Approach – Common Model Infrastructure
  • Addressing forecast uncertainty – Ensemble modeling
  • Test Beds in each Service Center
  • U.S.Weather Research Program THORPEX: International Polar Year – 07/08 GEOSS
student employment programs at noaa
Student Employment Programs at NOAA
  • Student Educational Experience Program (SEEP)
    • Student Career Experience Program (SCEP) - SCEP is a program that provides experience that is directly related to the student’s educational program and career goals. SCEP replaces the Cooperative Education Program (COOP). Agreements are made with an accredited school combined with periods of career-related work in a Federal agency. Students earn federal benefits. Students interested in applying for a SCEP position should contact the Cooperative Education Coordinator at their school.
    • Student Temporary Employment Programs (STEP) - Does not have to be in your career field. The position is not to exceed one year with incremental extensions. It is great for career exploration.
student employment programs at noaa1
Student Employment Programs at NOAA
  • NOAA Faculty and Student Intern Research Program administered by the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE):
    • Ten week faculty and student intern research program. Primary focus to provide work experience to faculty, graduate and undergraduate students under represented in mission-related occupations. FTE neutral.
  • NOAA’s Educational Partnership Program
    • Sponsored by the NOAA Diversity office and funded by Congress. Students are recruited from Minority Serving Institutes. Salary and graduate school tuition are paid for while attending school.
  • Workforce Recruitment Program
    • The WRP is a resource for federal agencies nationwide to provide employment opportunities for qualified students with disabilities. FTE neutral.
  • For more information on all programs
ncep employment situation
NCEP Employment Situation
  • Employment situation – FY04
    • Total of 375 Civil Servants; 146 contractors; 18 visitors
    • Currently have 5 Student Interns (SCEP/STEP)
    • During the last 12 months
      • 32 CS vacancies; 5 SCEPs;
      • Hired 22 contractors & visiting scientists
      • 20 Summer/Student Program Hires (ORISE, GoHFAS, NOAA Educational Partnership Programs)
    • Projected growth through ’08: 50 – 60 (contractors/visiting scientists/postdocs)
computing capability
Computing Capability

$20M/Year Investment

Commissioned/Operational IBM Supercomputer in Gaithersburg, MD (June 6, 2003)

  • Receives Over 123 Million Global Observations Daily
  • Sustained Computational Speed: 450 Billion Calculations/Sec
  • Generates More Than 5.7 Million Model Fields Each Day
  • Global Models (Weather, Ocean, Climate)
  • Regional Models (Aviation, Severe Weather, Fire Weather)
  • Hazards Models (Hurricane, Volcanic Ash, Dispersion)
  • 2.4x upgrade operational by mid-January, 2005
  • Backup in Fairmont, WV operational by mid-January, 2005
ncep operational models
NCEP Operational Models


12 km, 60 levels, 84 hrs at 0 , 6, 12 and 18Z

Global Forecast System (GFS)

T254 (~55 km) to 3.5 days (84 hrs), 64 levels

T170 (~75 km) to 7.5 days (180 hrs), 42 levels

T126 (~105 km) to 16 days (384 hrs), 28 levels

16 days (384 hrs)/4 times per day


20 km, 50 levels

12 hrs at 0,3,6,9,12,15,18,21Z

3 hrs at 1,2,4,5,7,8,10,11,13,14, 16,17,19,20,22,23Z

Climate Forecast System (CFS)

T62 (~200 km), 64 levels, 10 months/ 1/day at 00Z

40-level GFDL Modular Ocean Model (MOM3)

GFDL Hurricane Model

coupled ocean-atmosphere

Two nests (0.5, 1/6 deg lat/lon)

42 levels

126 hrs at 00, 06, 12 and 18Z

Wave Model

global - 1.25 x 1.0 deg lat/lon

Alaskan Regional - .5 x .25 deg lat/lon

Western North Atlantic - .25 x .25 deg lat/lon

Eastern North Pacific - .25 x .25 deg lat/lon

1 level, 168 hrs/4 times per day

North Atlantic Hurricane (seasonal)

North Pacific Hurricane (seasonal)

.25 x .25 deg lat/lon

1 level

78 hours/4 times per day


global 10 members at 00, 06,12,18Z

T126 (~105 km) to 180 hrs, T62 (210 km) to 384 hrs

28 levels, 16 days (384 hrs)

regional 10 members at 0 and 12Z

32 km, 60 levels, 63 hrs from 9 and 21Z

ncep operational models1
NCEP Operational Models

High Resolution Window (Non-hydrostatic Nest)

8 km, 60 levels, 48 hrs at 0 , 6, 12 and 18Z

AK, HI at 00Z, West US, PR at 06Z,

Cent US, HI at 12Z, East US, PR at 18Z

Fire Wx/IMET Support (Non-hydrostatic Nest)

8 km, 60 levels, 48 hours, up to 4/day

Selectable area from 26, 900 km2 domains

HYSPLIT Dispersion Model

run on demand

using 4 km Non-hydrostatic Mesoscale Model (NMM)

Air Quality Forecast System

12 km, 22 levels, 48 hours, 2/day at 6, 12Z

Downscaled GFS with Eta Extension (DGEX)

12 km, 60 levels (downscaled locally to 5km)

CONUS at 06 and 18Z, AK at 00 and 12Z

84-192 h

4 km terrain



Model Dependencies








Air Quality

NOAH Land Surface Model

model access

Model Access

  • Through the Web
  • While the model is running
  • Fastest access possible

Popularity of NCEP Models Web Page

Access introduced

July 17, 2001

# of graphics

produced per day








recent advancements

Recent Advancements

  • Climate Forecast System
  • WRF
  • Wave Watch III
  • Air Quality
the ncep coupled climate forecast system implemented august 24 2004
The NCEP coupled Climate Forecast System(implemented August 24, 2004)
  • Global Forecast System 2003 (GFS03)
  • T62 in horizontal; 64 layers in vertical
  • Recent upgrades in model physics
      • Solar radiation (Hou, 1996)
      • cumulus convection (Hong and Pan, 1998)
      • gravity wave drag (Kim and Arakawa, 1995)
      • cloud water/ice (Zhao and Carr,1997)

1. Atmospheric component

2. Oceanic component

  • GFDL MOM3 (Pacanowski and Griffies, 1998)
  • 1/3°x1° in tropics; 1°x1° in extratropics; 40 layers
  • Quasi-global domain (74°S to 64°N)
  • Free surface

3. Coupled model

  • Once-a-day coupling
  • Sea ice extent taken as observed climatology

Coupled Model


ENSO SST cycles


2002-2040 (top)





Coupled Model Simulation

SST Interannual Variability


28 Level Atm

64 Level Atm


Most Recent CFS

Latest CPC Forecast:

El Niño conditions have developed in the tropical

Pacific and are expected to last through early 2005.

wrf noaa afwa ncar faa nrl

Explicit Cores

(e.g., Hurricane, Dispersion, Aviation)

  • The next-generation mesoscale NWP modeling system for research and operations
  • Sustained by AF, Navy, NCEP, NCAR
  • Testing underway of all combinations of 2 dynamic cores and 2 physics packages at DoD Major Shared Resource Center (one month from each season)
  • First operational implementation at NCEP September 21, 2004, implementation at AF by Spring, ’05








NCEP Mesoscale Forecast Systems

to be replaced by WRF configurations


NA (Eta) Analysis




NA (Eta Forecast)

implementation schedule
Implementation Schedule
  • HiResWindow: WRF Ensemble Operational Sept. 21, 2004 (2 members) (6 members, FY06)
  • North American Mesoscale WRF: Operational in FY05
  • FireWeather/IMET Support and Homeland Security: WRF-NMM Operational in FY06
  • Hurricane WRF: FY06 - 07
  • Rapid Refresh WRF: Operational in FY07
  • WRF SREF: Operational in FY07

The Flow of Science from Research to

Operations in the WRF Era:

A Plan to Bridge the “Valley of Death”

The research community:


Developmental Test bed Center, Boulder




Air Force





Air Force








24 Hour Accumulated Precipitation Valid 12Z 6 September, 2004, 42 Hour Forecast



CPC RFC 1/8 deg Verification

Tropical Storm


Subjective Comparison

OPS. Eta




24 Hour Accumulated Precipitation Valid 12Z 30 August, 2004, 42 Hour Forecast



CPC RFC 1/8 deg Verification

Tropical Storm


Subjective Comparison

OPS. Eta


new model required


  • New model design with emphasis on transparency, vectorization and parallelization (plug compatible, portable).
  • More general governing transport equation, allowing for later full coupling with ocean models.
  • All models use GFS and ice edge information from NCEP\'s operational ice analysis. A special GFDL driven version of the Western North Atlantic and Eastern North Pacific wave model are run for hurricane wave prediction (72h forecast).

Isabel 18/9/2003, 12 UTC

12h forecast


Intensity and location of forecast waves consistent and confirmed by altimeter and buoy observations. At 48h forecast lower wave heights due to earlier landfall.

24h forecast

48h forecast

wave height 50+ ft (45+ ft)


Isabel at Field Research Facility Duck NC

9/18 14:00 EDT

9/29 14:00 EDT

Maximum observed wave height at the end of the pier 26.6ft, which is roughly the maximum sustainable wave height for the local water depth. Wave height 2 miles offshore reported up to 49 ft.

pictures from US Army Corps Of

Engineers Field Research Facility webcam

air quality prediction at ncep
Air Quality Prediction at NCEP
  • Initial (FY2003 – FY2008):
    • 1-day forecasts of surface ozone (O3) concentration (twice per day) using NOAA/EPA community model for AQ (CMAQ)linked to 12 km Eta
    • Validated in testing over Northeastern USdomain during 03 and 04,
    • Declared operational September 13, 2004
    • Deploy Nationwide within 5 years
  • Intermediate (FY2008 – FY2010):
    • Develop and test capability to forecast particulate matter (PM) concentration
  • Longer range (by FY2013):
    • Extend air quality forecast range to 48-72 hours
    • Include broader range of significant pollutants
objective verification



Objective Verification

7/22/04 8 hour Peak Ozone

BIAS in max 1-hr ozone





Daily Upper Air Observation Count


Count (Millions)

joint center for satellite data assimilation created july 2 2001
Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilationcreated July 2, 2001

Accelerate use of research and operational satellite data in operational numerical prediction models

  • Increase uses of current satellite data in NWP models
  • Develop the hardware/software systems needed to assimilate data from the advanced satellite sensors
  • Advance the common NWP models and data assimilation infrastructure
  • Develop common fast radiative transfer system
  • Assess the impacts of data from advanced satellite sensors on weather and climate predictions
  • Reduce the average time for operational implementations of new satellite technology from two years to one






Modeling Center


Office of Weather and

Air Quality


Global Modeling &

Assimilation Office

US Navy


Oceanographer of the Navy,

Office of Naval Research (NRL)

Office of Research &

AF Director of Weather

AF Weather Agency


US Air Force

JCSDA Partners

jcsda fy03 05 major projects
JCSDA FY03-05 Major Projects
  • JCSDA is funding 18 extramural research projects to develop the state of-the-art satellite data assimilation system (e.g. uses of cloudy radiances from advanced satellite instruments, uses of satellite snow and vegetation products)
  • Preparation for uses of advanced satellite data such as METOP (IASI/AMSU/HSB), DMSP (SSM/IS) and EOS (Aqua AIRS, AMSR-E)
  • NCEP global data assimilation system implemented into NASA Global Modeling and Assimilation Office (GMAO) forecast system
  • JCSDA community-based radiative transfer model
  • Snow and sea ice emissivity models for improving uses of satellite microwave sounding data over high latitudes
  • Impact studies of POES AMSU, EOS AIRS, DMSP SSMIS, MODIS, GPS Occultation on NWP through EMC parallel experiments
jcsda accomplishments
JCSDA Accomplishments
  • Land emissivity model tested in NCEP operational models
    • Positive impacts with AMSU data over land (May,2002)
    • Operational implementation (October, 2002)
      • Enabled use of microwave radiances over land
    • Adoption of NCEP Data Assimilation by GFSC
  • New Data used in NCEP operational models
    • SSM/I, TRMM microwave imager precipitation estimates; AMSU cloud liquid water
    • GOES -10-12 IR radiances
    • QuikSCAT data ( ~ 5 to 15% improvement in 10 m winds)
  • AIRS Assessment
    • Full resolution tests indicate positive impact, focused on 254 channels out of 2378
    • Full data assimilation implementation scheduled for 1st Quarter FY05
    • MODIS winds implementation scheduled for !st Quarter FY05
ongoing activities cont jcsda announcement of opportunity
Ongoing Activities (cont)JCSDA Announcement of Opportunity
  • Improve radiative transfer model
    • UCLA – Advanced Radiative Transfer
    • UMBC – Including Aerosols in OPTRAN
    • NOAA/ETL – Fast microwave radiance assimilation studies
  • Prepare for advanced instruments
    • U. Wisconsin – Polar winds assimilation
    • NASA/GSFC – AIRS and GPS assimilation
  • Advance techniques for assimilating cloud and precipitation information
    • U. Wisconsin – Passive microwave assimilation of cloud and precipitation
  • Improve emissivity models and surface products
    • Boston U. - Time varying Land & Vegetation
    • U. Arizona – Satellite obs for Snow Data Assimilation
    • Colo. State U. – Surface emissivity error analysis
    • NESDIS/ORA – Retrievals of real-time vegetation properties
  • Improve use of satellite data in ocean data assimilation
    • U. Md – Ocean data assimilation bias correction
    • Columbia U. – Use of altimeter data
    • NRL (Monterey) – Aerosol contamination in SST Retrievals
earth system modeling framework
Earth System Modeling Framework
  • ESMF definition
    • Global common model infrastructure
    • Basis for next generation global data assimilation and forecast system
    • Generalized model to include hybrid coordinate
      • Common model and data assimilation superstructure
      • Potential unified global and regional system
  • ESMF Status
    • Have successfully coupled NCEP global analysis with NCAR-NASA fvCAM using ESMF
    • Will couple GFS with GFDL MOM4 ocean model using ESMF by end of 2004
north american ensemble forecast system
North American Ensemble Forecast System

Focus on THORPEX-related Items

  • Effort to leverage international resources to increase number of ensemble members
  • Canada and U.S. to share global ensemble runs
  • IOC in September ’04 to consist of 40 NCEP runs (10 runs x 4/day) and 16 Canadian runs (eventually will expand to 32) for a total of 56
  • First step in a 3 year effort
  • Will include output from the UK Met Office within 18-24 months
  • NCEP is positioned to deal with important strategic issues
    • Climate-weather-water linkage
    • Expand into “environmental” prediction
    • Extend predictive capabilities into week 2
    • Extend consistent predictive capabilities for extreme events out to Day 7
summary cont
Summary (cont)
  • Based on Partnership with larger research community
    • Community model approach (global and regional)
    • Active participation in field programs
      • North American Monsoon Experiment
      • THORPEX
    • Test Beds:
      • Developmental Test bed Center (EMC)
      • Climate Test Bed (EMC, CPC)
      • USWRP/Joint Hurricane Test Bed (TPC)
      • Hazardous Weather Forecast Test Bed (SPC)
      • Aviation Test Bed (AWC)
      • USWRP/Hydrometeorological Test Bed (HPC) (in progress)
    • Data Assimilation efforts through JCSDA

Hurricane Michelle

October 29 - November 5, 2001





5-day forecast

Hurricane Isabel









Preliminary 48 hour track error – 62 nm (42 fcst)

Preliminary 120 hour track error – 116 nm

Preliminary 48 hour track error – 88 nm (13 forecasts)






Preliminary 48 hour track error – 97 nm (47 fcst)

fire weather imet support
Fire Weather IMET Support

12 km Eta

8 km NMM

8 km NMM captures CA coastal winds

Green – model winds

Red – observed winds