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Hurricane Research in NOAA. Frank Marks NOAA HFIP Project Lead 62 nd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference. Vision.

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hurricane research in noaa

Hurricane Research in NOAA

Frank Marks

NOAA HFIP Project Lead

62nd Interdepartmental Hurricane Conference

  • Significantly improve forecast guidance with modeling systems capturing range of natural variability in tropical cyclone track, intensity and structure with sufficientfidelity to predict rapid intensity changeswith minimal uncertainty.



62nd IHC

overarching research
Overarching Research
  • What physical processes limit predictability of track, intensity and structure?
    • Large scale wind and moisture structure and variability
    • Convection in vorticity-rich environment (VHT)
    • Air-sea exchange of momentum and enthalpy
    • Vortex dynamics and evolution (resiliency, mixing, VRW)
    • Upper ocean structure and mesoscale variability
    • Aerosols and microphysics
  • What is best way to represent natural variability of processes in model system?
    • Ensembles (multi-model, single model/multiple physics, /initial state, /resolutions, etc.)
    • Representation of physical processes
    • Resolution, domain size, and nesting
  • What is best mix of data for model initialization?

62nd IHC

  • Unified NOAA approach to guide andaccelerate improvements in forecasts, with emphasis onrapid intensity change, and reduction inuncertainty.
  • Improve forecasts and increase confidence to enhance mitigation and preparedness decisions.
  • Responds to input from stakeholders, NSB, OFCM, and HIRWG reports.
  • Embraces strongcollaboration with non-NOAA partners with objective to transition research into operations.

62nd IHC

hfip research thrusts
HFIP Research Thrusts



  • Intensity and structure change, with emphasis on RI: processes that modulate internal storm dynamics and storm interactions with atmosphere and ocean;
  • Track: interactions between tropical cyclone and its environment through optimal use of observations;
  • Forecast Uncertainty: global and regional model ensembles to bound uncertainty and test predictability

62nd IHC

hfip components
HFIP Components
  • Improve HFS/GFS to reduce error in track and intensity forecasts
  • Optimize new and existing observing systems to enhance research and operations capabilities and impacts
  • Expand forecast tools and applications to aid forecasters



62nd IHC

hfip objectives
HFIP Objectives
  • Overlap with Table 5.1 with focus on transition to operations:
  • Guide and accelerate HFS improvements (HFS)
  • Develop observing system strategy analysis capability (OSE)
  • Fully fund transition ofresearch to operations (R2O)
  • Increase high performance computing (res & ops)
  • Coordinate with research community on basic research
    • NOAA cannot meet goals alone!
    • Broaden base of expertise in tropical cyclone research community
    • Work closely with federal, academic, and private sector communities

62nd IHC

ofcm tc research plan
OFCM TC Research Plan

Table 5-1. Research Priorities in Atmospheric and Ocean Science

  • HFIP









62nd IHC

ofcm tc research plan1
OFCM TC Research Plan
  • HFIP


62nd IHC

hfip leadership heob
HFIP Leadership (HEOB)
  • The membership of the HFIP Executive Oversight Board (HEOB) includes:
  • NWS AA, Dr. John L. Hayes (Co-Chair)
  • OAR AA, Dr. Richard Spinrad (Co-Chair)
  • NESDIS AA, Ms. Mary Kicza
  • NOS AA, Mr. John H. Dunnigan
  • NMFS Senior Designee, Ms. Bonnie Ponwith
  • PPI AA, Dr. Paul Doremus (Acting)
  • NMAO, Director or Designee (TBD)
  • Director, NHC/NWS, Dr. Edward Rappaport (Acting)
  • Director, AOML/OAR, Dr. Robert Atlas
  • Director, NCEP/NWS, Dr. Louis Uccellini
  • Director, Office of the Federal Coordinator for Meteorology, Mr. Sam Williamson

62nd IHC

hfip team
  • Dr. Frank Marks and Dr. Ahsha Tribble were selected as the Project Lead and Deputy Project Lead, respectively. They formed a project team including:
  • Program Manager, Environmental Modeling Program: Mr. Fred Toepfer
  • Program Designee, Local Forecasts and Warnings: Mr. Scott Kiser
  • Program Manager, Science and Technology Infusion or designee: Dr. Chris Fairall
  • NESDIS Representative: Dr. Mark DeMaria
  • Hurricane Program Director, Aircraft Operations Center: Dr. Jim McFadden
  • Program Manager, NMAO Aircraft Services: RADM Phil Kenul
  • HWRF Program Manager and EMC Hurricane Lead: Dr. Naomi Surgi
  • OFCM/JAG/TCR representative: Mr. Mark Welshinger
  • ELDP Candidate (NWS): Mr. Mark McInerney
  • Executive Secretariat: NWS/Dr. Daniel Meléndez
  • OAR/Mr. Roger Pierce

62nd IHC

scope of hfip
Scope of HFIP


Impacts on





Modeling and Data Assimilation

Observing Strategies and Observations


Critical mass




Basic Process Research




Rainfall and Inland Flooding



Operational Needs




Climate Interactions

Preparedness and Response


62nd IHC

significance of rapid intensity change
Significance of Rapid Intensity Change
  • Rapid intensity (RI) change (≥30 kt in 24 hours) has a significant impact on preparedness and evacuation actions for emergency managers
    • Greatest forecast challenge for hurricane forecasters
    • Not handled well by current operational models
    • High priority in HIRWG report and the Joint Hurricane Testbed (JHT)
    • 83% of major hurricanes have at least 1 RI event
      • Major hurricanes are responsible for 80% of all hurricane damage
    • Linked to changes in storm structure and storm surge
  • Research and operational efforts necessary to improve forecasts of rapid intensity change will also improve intensity and track forecasts.

62nd IHC

hfip performance metrics
HFIP Performance Metrics
  • Reduce average track error at Days 1 – 5
  • Reduce average intensity error at Days 1 – 5
  • Increase probability of detection (POD) for rapid intensity change for Days 1 – 5
  • Decrease false alarm ratio (FAR) for rapid intensity change for Days 1 – 5
  • Quantify and reduce the uncertainty in the forecast guidance

62nd IHC

short term actions priorities and payoffs
Short Term Actions: Priorities and Payoffs

High Resolution Model and Other Model Enhancements

Technical staff with modeling and software engineering expertise

R&D for HFS/GFS to demonstrate, using DOE HPC system, high resolution and ensemble prediction capability and address data assimilation challenges

HFS/HWRF R&D and upgrades sustained

Storm Surge Testbed

Enhance HPC Capability

NOAA R&D computing to support HFS/GFS development including software engineering

Research to Operations (R20) Enhancements

Increase funding for the JHT (includes staffing)

Increase support for the Developmental Testbed Center (DTC) and Joint Center for Satellite Data Assimilation (JSCDA)

Targeted field programs and operational flights

Broaden expertise and expand interaction with external community

Establish a visiting scientist/Post Doc program

Advisory committees, community workshops

Permanent HFIP Staff and infrastructure


Staffing and computing infrastructure established to evaluate potential model improvements

Targeted high resolution and ensemble model research and development funded

Demonstration completed on the impact of forecast performance using the high resolution model system on DOE system– decision point for NOAA HPC investment

Upgrades to HFS/HWRF implemented operationally, and HFS/HWRF on a path to 4km resolution

Storm surge testbed established

Staff and infrastructure established for enhanced transition of research to operations

Broaden community expertise through visiting scientists

Involvement with external community for modeling R&D and development of forecast tools through JHT, DTC, and JCSDA

62nd IHC