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Report of theNOAA Science Advisory Board (SAB)NCEP Ocean Modeling Review Panel (OMRP)OMRP Members:Mr. D. Blaskovich, IBMDr. A. F. Blumberg, SITDr. A. J. Busalacchi, UMDDr. J. McClean, NPGSDr. C. N. K. Mooers, UMDr. L.J. Pietrafesa, NCSU, Chair Dr. D. P. Rogers, SAICDr. R. H. Weisberg, USF08 March 2004International Business Machines, Stevens Institute of Technology, University of Maryland, Naval Post Graduate School, University of Miami, North Carolina State University, Science Applications International Corporation, University of South Florida (respectively)


Charge to the PanelIn response to a request from the NOAA National Weather Service in July 2003, an Ocean Model Review Panel was commissioned by the NOAA SAB to address the following two part Charge:1. Provide an assessment of the current ocean modeling activities at the National Centers for Environmental Prediction’s(NCEP) Environmental Modeling Center (EMC)including those that support global, regional and coastal applications for Climate, Weather and Marine forecasts. 2. Providea review of, and specific recommendations for, EMC’s future plans for the improvement of Ocean Models used operationally in NOAA, including the proposed approach for the next generation Modeling System based on the multi-agency Earth System Modeling framework.

a note of thanks
A Note of Thanks
  • On behalf of The University Corporation for Atmospheric Research (UCAR), Ms. Meg Austin and Ms. Susan Baltuch facilitated the review process. Ms. Austin and Ms. Baltuch did an absolutely superb job. However, the report still lacks references, an acronym list, and complete editing.
  • The Panel also makes note that NCEP Headquarters was very responsive in providing any and all support material deemed necessary by the Panel to conduct this review. The Panel feels that an important signal about the professionalism of an organization being reviewed is the level of cooperation demonstrated by those being reviewed. NCEP management and personnel receive high marks for this
the process and a note
The Process and a Note
  • The Panel met at NCEP headquarters over 11-13 November 2003 with the NCEP leadership, staff and also toured the Camp Springs, MD facilities
  • The OMRP (entire committee along with UCAR facilitators M. Austin and S. Baltuch and NCEP representatives, Dr. L. Uccellini, Dr. S. Lord and Dr. D. Johnson) met again during the American Meteorological Society annual meeting (13 January 2004) in Seattle, WA
  • Final editing/checks are being done now.
  • It is of note that at this time, the Panel has not been made privy to the findings and recommendations of the long overdue U.S. Ocean Commission Report. The Panel would like to take advantage of perspectives that could be of benefit in the OMRP report
  • At several briefings that members of the ORMP have attended, updates reports have been given which suggest that:
There are comments on the potential impacts to marine systems from long term weather changes due to projected climate variability and change
  • A recommended reconfigured NOAA could include an entity that is a society-serving operational-forecast-provider that society requires to more sustainably live in, utilize and better manage its ocean and coastal zone resources
  • There will be a call for greatly enhanced national in-situ ocean and coastal observing systems
  • There will be a call to double the ocean sciences research budget
  • There will be a call for more attention to be paid to marine transportation safety and homeland security issues

Conclusion: Buried in the details of the recommendations, there may be ocean and coastal zone responsibilities and thus opportunities for NCEP

An Update:On March 10th it was announced thatthe Report is now scheduled for release on April 20th

We will make an effort to incorporate appropriate recommendations

ncep s origin

“The National Center for Environmental

Prediction was named (in 1995) after it

was determined that NOAA required an

operational forecast and products unit

with a name that was ‘extensible’ in

keeping with its mission”

(direct quote of Dr. R. McPherson,

Executive Director of the AMS)

ncep s mission

NCEP delivers national and global weather, water, climate and space weather guidance, forecasts, warnings and analyses to its 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 need for growing environmental information

ncep s 3 part vision
NCEP’s 3-part VISION
  • To be the Nation’s source of 1st alert for all climate, weather and space weather hazards
  • To be the preferred partner in developing numerical model and new weather, water, climate and space weather products and services
  • To becomethe Nation’s 1st choice for global and national climate and weather analyses, forecasts and guidance
NCEP believes its vision will be achieved by:
  • improving its forecasts by employing and exploiting climate-weather-water linkages
  • producing a seamless suite of products through a collaborative approach
  • extending the predictability of weather and climate
  • improving forecasts of extreme events
  • creating a common model infrastructure
  • addressing uncertainty in forecasts

New #s: OoD (9/1), CO (75/32), AWC (54/10), CPC (50/30), EMC (47/75), HPC (43/1), OPC (24/0), SEC (51/5), SPC (32/4), TPC (41/2)= 426 FTEs + 160 Cs + Vs => 586 in 8 centers plus the Director’s Office all linked to the Envir. Mod. Cntr. thru Centrl. Ops.

NCEP provides guidance to support the Weather Forecast Offices and River Forecast Centers including: severe storm outlooks, fire weather outlooks, weather forecasts out to Day 7, precipitation and temperature forecasts, marine weather discussions and model output discussions
  • NCEP produces a product line which includes: surface analyses, severe weather watches, hurricane watches and warnings, aviation forecasts and warnings, climate forecasts, marine high sea watches and warnings and space weather watches and warnings
  • NCEP provides underlying development and operational support to global and regional models, data assimilation methodologies, ensemble forecast systems and computer and network operations
NCEP’s does outreach measured, e.g., by its’:
  • Web-site hit-rate in the 10’s of millions per month
  • student program which typically has ~ 20 student interns, many from minority serving institutions of higher education (such as Howard, Clark Atlanta, & Puerto Rico- Mayaquez), in residence
  • forecaster exchange program
  • hosting of workshops and conferences, such as the recent SPC Severe Weather Workshop
  • Hurricane Awareness Tours such as recent Tropical Prediction Cntr. visits to Belize, Costa Rica, Mexico, Honduras, the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico
  • International Desk Program in which training, tools, services are provided on-site in Camp Springs to visitors, several of whom are continually in residence
on the findings of the omrp
On the Findings of the OMRP

The OMRP asked 2 Q’s: 1) Why Bother & 2) What would

the value added be to NCEP’s ability to conduct state of

the science forecasts in the ocean and coastal zones

The Panel findings are organized in four sections in the

report covering:

1. Rationale for why an improved capability for ocean and coastal zone predictions is important

2. State of the Science of Atmosphere, Ocean and Coastal Zone Observation and Prediction

3. State of NCEP’s Predictive Capabilities

4. State of NCEP’s Relation to the Nation’s Ocean Science Community

why bother
Why Bother?
  • Marine commerce contributes $0.75 Trillion in annual revenues to the Nation’s economy
  • 13 million U.S. workers are employed in the Marine Commerce industry
  • More than 60 % of the Nation’s population lives in the coastal zone, (some coastal regions experienced exponential growth/past 100 years)
  • Coastal development will rise by 67% from the present over the next two decades; in fact in some coastal areas the value of housing (adjusted to the Nation’s CPI) has grown exponentially/past 50 years
  • Between 70-75% of all weather related losses over the past two decades have occurred in coastal zones
  • There are many boating deaths and drowning of swimmers that are directly attributable to the lack of accurate coastal zone forecasts of sea state and currents
  • “Rip Currents” are responsible for the 2nd largest number of “weather” related fatalities in the U.S
  • Projected sea level rise may greatly exacerbate future weather related impacts and the economies of coastal areas
  • Coastal communities have expressed great need for integrated oceanic, coastal, and estuary centric products, services and delivery mechanisms
  • But is there justification beyond societal need for more information?
Well, for example:
  • The NWS National Forecast Verification Program of forecast accuracy indicates that weather forecastsover land are far more accurate than are forecasts in coastal zones and over the oceans
  • In 2003 the NWS determined that the addition of several new buoys lead to a dramatic improvement in its significant wave height forecast capability lending credence to the assumption that more data in coastal areas will improve forecasts
  • Coastal, Great Lakes and Estuary, Academia & Industry developed coupled models of storm induced surge and flooding have demonstrated that an advanced systemsmodeling approach, both deterministic and probabilistic, will significantly improve forecast skill


The development of seasonal to inter-annual predictions based on global ocean circulation models coupled with atmospheric models received major emphasis following the 1982/83 El Nino*, and the past 20 years has seen major improvements in forecast capability with data assimilated from the NOAA TAO array and NOAA satellites into diagnostic and prognostic models
  • This capability has enhanced NOAA/NCEP capabilities to make seasonal forecasts and has been of great, documented value to the public across the Nation
  • *Of course the ENSO signalis known to be a strong in both weather and climate events across the Nation while causal conditions in other parts of the ocean or in coastal zones have not been thought to be as influential as are the warm waters (or relative lack thereof) of ENSO
Albeit, published studies (such as Cione,1992, Bosart & Spriggs, 1997, Rotunno & Pietrafesa, 1998, Xie & Pietrafesa, 1998) have revealed strong interactive couplings between continental margin waters and the atmosphere in effecting local to regional to cross-regional weather
  • Recently, Xie (2004, NOAA funded work) demonstrated using NESDIS satellite observations, robust patterns of atmospheric-ocean coupling over cool portions of the oceans where such coupling has been thought to be weak and ineffectual
  • Does this and other findings have implications for the improvement of weather and climate forecasts? “Yes”, says the Panel
  • Also, the literature is rich with evidence which documents that the maturation of ocean and coastal components of numerical modeling has paralleled that of supporting observations
  • Moreover, since modeling and observations are dependent on one another to maximize their joint forecast utility, coordinated programs of observations and models are required regionally and locally
  • Presently there are 77 marine buoy, 56 CMAN and 43 coastal ocean water level ocean, coastal & estuary mooring systems. Is this deemed sufficient?
the panel s short answer is no
The Panel’s short answer is “No”
  • According to NRC, USWRP and BAMS publications and of International Ocean Observing Systems (IOOS), Global Ocean Observing Systems (GOOS) and Coastal GOOS (CGOOS) documents, much more data is needed
  • Observations for initialization, for assimilation and for validation of ocean and coastal zone and estuary models are sub-optimal at best
  • A concern for the lack of NOAA attention to a more ambitious and robust in-situ monitoring program has been brought to the attention of NOAA by the NOAA SAB, but no organized plan has been created to date
  • The Panel finds that NOAA’s ocean, coastal zone and estuary observing networks per se are lacking and undercapitalized as relates to support of ocean and coastal modeling
  • Also, the Panel finds that NCEP links to customers of ocean services and products is weak
  • NCEP is partnering with other agencies to advance data assimilation, via the Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation, leveraging its resources with those of NASA and others to increase the utilization of satellite data in predictions
  • NCEP is working closely with federal partners on an Earth System Modeling Framework (ESMF), which will increase interoperability in weather, climate and ocean models
  • Here, similar approaches would be needed if NCEP were to fully engage the oceanographic research community and other agencies to assist in the development of operational ocean and coastal forecasting
  • Here, NCEP is in a potentially excellent position to engage and provide purpose to the ocean, coastal and Great Lakes observing and modeling communities, some of whom are the same cast of players
  • Strengthening ties would address current deficits in NCEP’s ocean prediction program
  • At selected OAR Labs there is experience in both ocean modeling code development and data assimilation and the expertise to evaluate the relative merits of various ocean codes and with all phases of data collection, processing, and analysis and could contribute to skill assessments of the ocean products
  • NOS has much in-house capabilities in coastal, estuary and Great Lakes modeling and should be entrained as a partner as NOS has developed capabilities and costumers that would be beneficial to NCEP
  • NCEP is beginning to work with the broad community to develop new mechanisms to increase the interaction between operations and research, including the establishment of partnership test-beds focused on the rapid transition of research ideas into operational solutions through the use of operational data streams and models. This approach would work very well in ocean and environmental modeling
  • Here, community-derived numerical predictions of ocean, marine atmospheric, coastal and estuary events could be stored at NCDC and be jointly accessed by NCEP and the model developers to conduct ensemble and probabilistic forecasts
  • NCEP presently has some in-house core competency for the analysis, assessment, evaluation and selection of ocean and coastal zone models
  • NCEP has developed some effective partnerships within the ocean research and modeling community but more partnerships would expand capacity and capability
  • NCEP does not lead in ocean modeling; rather it would most effectively move models from research to the operational environment
  • NCEP has marginal links to ocean observing system efforts (eg. COTS, IOOS and OCEAN.US) and should be expanded
  • Ocean prediction within NCEP is weakly integrated to OAR facilities such as PMEL and AOML which endemically, may be poorly linked also
  • NCEP does not have an ocean forecast support system, as on the atmospheric side, to deliver products
  • There are initiatives within the broader ocean sciences community that suggest this is an opportune time to move models from the research to the operational environment
  • Contrary to NCEP’s goals and objectives for “increasing collaboration with the world’s leading scientists in development of improved products, services and numerical models”, NCEP has no formal means for interacting with the external ocean, coastal zone and estuary modeling communities
The OMRP believes there is a national need for NCEP to become fully integrated into the U.S. national ocean research community, to take advantage of the division of labor to develop and rapidly move new ocean modeling capabilities from research into operations
  • This activity would result in new, cost effective capabilities being deployed at NCEP far more rapidly than if NCEP were to attempt to develop such capabilities in-house
  • With NCEP playing a central role, NOAA needs to develop an across-line office strategy, particularly with NOS, for a total ocean prediction system (i.e., from requirements to observing systems, modeling systems, information products, delivery systems, and performance measures)
  • This should be done in collaboration with the Navy, and Academic and Private Sectors where needed expertise and human resources reside
There is urgency in these matters; for example, the coastal ocean observing system components of IOOS depends upon a partnership between regional observing systems and networks and the “national backbone” to be provided by federal agencies (primarily NOAA)
  • However, the design of the “backbone”, which should accord NCEP a central role, is a missing part of the architecture for IOOS, which includes the concept of a joint operations center involving the Navy and NOAA
  • This would move the coastal observing systems to morph into coastal prediction systems and thus provide the intellectual rationale for a national network of these systems.

Given NCEP’s demonstrated ability to implement and manage the complexities and resource of operational atmospheric forecasting, it is logical to propose that NCEP, along with a full engagement of NOS, is the suitable agency to adopt the mission of operational ocean and coastal zone forecasting

  • As a corollary to the above, since NCEP does not have an ocean and coastal forecast support system, as in the atmospheric side, to deliver products, the OMRP suggests that
  • The NWS WFOs in place across the Nation, particularly those in coastal zone locales, along with SGOs, could perform the forecast and products & services provider function with retraining of existing line forecasters and/or the hiring of a new breed of ocean and coastal marine forecaster
  • NCEP via the NWS and the American Meteorological Society should work with the Nation’s academic institutions to develop ocean/coastal/marine forecasters
next the 8 sab themes we begin with quality creativity and credibility
Next, the 8 SAB Themes: We begin with:Quality, Creativity, and Credibility
  • The OMRP believes that NCEP demonstrates a deep commitment to improving the quality and credibility of its operational forecasts
  • The request to have this review is a strong indicator of NWS/NCEP’s desire to improve the quality of its forecasts…
  • With more creativity in its delivery of improved forecasts and information
  • And with much greater credibility in its forecasts
timeliness scale and scope
Timeliness, Scale and Scope
  • The Panel believes that NCEP is the NOAA poster child for the theme of timeliness
  • Routine operational forecasting by definition requires timeliness
  • Scale and scope appear to be in continual transformation and the desire for improvement was evident throughout the organization
  • Immediate Feed-Back and Metrics will do that to you
science connected to the formulation application and operational implementation of policy
Science Connected to the Formulation, Application and Operational Implementation of Policy
  • The Panel believes that improved capacity in its capability to deliver interactively coupled, ocean atmospheric based model output will lead to and ensure the linking of sound science to sound decision-making in an operational mode
  • This could be further advanced if NCEP were to be the provider of ocean, coastal zone and estuary forecasts, more broadly defined and authorized
  • Shortcomings in forecasts will drive the need for new science to create new operational forecast tools
capacity building
  • NCEP’s activities are at the core of this theme in that the systems approach that NCEP is taking and should be encouraged and enabled to take to improve its forecasts will necessarily build capacity for
  • NOAA and for the coastal states and coastal communities and marine interests of the Nation
education outreach engagement
Education: Outreach & Engagement
  • The Panel believes that NCEP has done an admiral job of outreach, engagement and education via the engagement of international professionals and students, particularly minorities and women, via internships, and the public through workshops and visitations
  • Additionally, the atmospheric academic enterprise has a rich tradition and history of providing training to the next generation of forecasters and future employees in the weather services industry
  • This is not true for the ocean sciences and affords the Academic Community the opportunity to create a newbrand of forecaster and service provider, to wit,
  • An ocean, coastal zone, marine sciences forecaster
  • Also, the NWS WFOs coupled with the NOAA OAR SGOs in the coastal zones of the U.S. provide significant numbers of potential public information and outreach centers
  • The Panel’s impression is that NCEP is efficiently and effectively run but also believes that
  • NOAA could effectively coordinate and integrate its scientific and technical capabilities to maximize efficiency, minimize redundancy and counter-productive overlap
  • NCEP should couple with NOS
  • To produce one-stop shopping for operational forecasts
social science integration
Social Science Integration
  • This is not yet well implemented in NCEP but in the context of an Earth System Modeling Framework, NCEP could become the core provider of information, products and services via an end to end system that encompasses the physical, biological and human sciences network that embraces and integrates the social and economic sciences in a quantitative way
  • This would be a very powerful advance and capability
  • The OMRP notes the recent work of Kocin & Uccellini (BAMS, 2004) in the creation of a five level NE U.S. snow accumulation scale

Diversity information across NCEP

  • The ratio of male to female is ~ 4/1
  • The ethnicity of the permanent employee pool is: White, 82.4%; African American 5.5%; 3.3 % Hispanic; 8.5% Asian and Pacific Islander Americans; and 0.03% Native America
  • NCEP is engaging underrepresented groups, minorities and women, in its student engagement and outreach programs
  • NCEP should hire FTEs from under-represented groups thereby ensuring the future viability of its workforce
The OMRP makes the following three recommendations:
  • In-situ and remote observations and models of atmospheric-ocean-coastal-lake interactions over a broad range of time and space scales enable and substantiate the need for coupling ocean and coastal models to atmospheric models to enhance the forecast capabilities for the atmosphere, the ocean, coastal areas and for the environment in the context of a whole earth system model framework. Thus ocean and coastal modeling must be fully integrated into operational weather, climate, hydrologic and earth system forecasts.

OR: Two fluid, interactively coupled models driven by data assimilation will improve forecasts of the weather and climate of the atmosphere in particular and other state variables in general

NCEP is presently the most credible and premier provider of atmospheric forecast products and services in the United States. To maintain this preeminence, particularly given the nation’s growing needs in the oceanic and coastal regions, NCEP must work with internal (NOS) and external (Academia) toward implementing two-way, interactively coupled ocean-coastal-atmosphere models for its operational forecasts.

Or: NCEP can remain preeminent in Operational Forecasting in the U.S. by partnering and by conducting 2-way coupled fluid modeling

To move forward aggressively, and to most efficiently and effectively make accurate and comprehensive weather, climate, water and marine forecast forecasts and warnings, NCEP (and more broadly, its parent agency NOAA) must develop a comprehensive strategy with the ocean community, including academia, private industry, and all appropriate federal entities, to capitalize on existing and developing ocean and coastal observations and models. Further, given the capital and intellectual investment NOAA has made in NCEP and in keeping with NOAA’s environmental operational forecasting aspirations, NCEP should lead in a cross-line- office NOAA strategy for the future evolution of ocean models, and merging of models and data via data assimilation, and in the applications which ensue.

Or:NCEP should be the cross-cut lead within NOAA and should capitalize on advances internal (NOS) and external (ACADEMIA) to the agency by partnering broadly with the ocean sciences and related communities, to optimize the success of future Operational, Environmental Forecasts.